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White Lake Refuge

Birding Seasons:
Spring A+
Summer A
Fall A
Winter A

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Site Description and Habitats

The area contains 938 acres of farmland, shrub swamp, cypress swamp, bottomland hardwood forest, open water, moist soil management areas, and impoundments. Part of the area is under a water level management program. In summer, much of the area is dry and farmed for winter waterfowl use. Upon entering the WMA, there is a small parking lot on the right about 100m from the Great River Rd. This parking lot is a trailhead for a 1/2 mile trail to a boardwalk through cypress bottoms and some mudflats, depending on water levels. Additional public roads provide access to different parks of the refuge, farm fields, and early successional habitat including grasslands.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: American Redstart, Eastern Kingbird, various flycatchers, and Northern Parula. Shorebirds can be abundant, including yellowlegs, Least and Semipalmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, among others. Wading birds including Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Little Blue Herons are common.

Summer: Sparrows and other grassland species. Wading birds including Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Little Blue Herons are common.

Winter: Abundant waterfowl, sparrows, Horned Lark, American Pipits, and Northern Harrier

Year-Round: Bald Eagle, Loggerhead Shrike

Rarities Seen at this Site: Black Terns, Golden Eagle, Tricolored Heron

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Other wildlife viewing opportunities
White-tailed deer, Bobcat, River Otter, Beaver, Coyote

Detailed directions for birding White Lake Refuge
From Dyersburg, take I-155 west to the intersection of highway 181 (about 12 miles). Exit on 181 and go north about 2 miles to milepost 17 (181 is the Great River Road). Look for a sign directing you east from highway 181 down a gravel road that leads into the refuge. Milepost 17 on Tennessee Hwy 181. The main entrance is the third right turn when on the Great River Rd.

The main part of the refuge is gated during high water and in winter. Another area of White Lake to explore, especially if the gate is closed, is to head back south on the Great River Rd to Boothspoint Rd and head east. There are warm season grass fields on the refuge that are great for Common Yellowthroat, Field Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak and Dickcissel in summer and for winter sparrows and Northern Harrier in winter. Loggerhead Shrike can occur anywhere. Drive down Boothspoint Rd and explore all the fields and flooded areas. The road eventually dead ends, but there are good fields to check out and an oxbow lake. At an intersection with another gravel road (Yarbro Rd), turn right and drive under I-155 to more farm fields and additional public land managed for waterfowl and early successional habitat. This area is part of Thorny Cypress WMA and Yarbro Rd dead ends at Hwy 104.

White Lake WMA map

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
White Lake Refuge main entrance: 36.117857, -89.569841
Boothspoint Rd: 36.104422, -89.576386
Boothspoint Rd and Yarbro Rd: 36.1004, -89.567588

Fees and Hours
Year round access is available via the Observation Trail. Refuge roads open all year except 15 November through last day of February and there are no fees for access.

For tips for safely watching wildlife during hunting seasons and year round please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates.

There are no restroom facilities or designated birding observation areas.

TWRA Region I office
200 Lowell Thomas Drive, Jackson, TN 38301
800-372-3928; 731-423-5725

Info for other sites
Tennessee’s Watchable Wildlife web site