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Brainerd Levee

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

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Site Description and Habitats

The Brainerd levee and retention area were built in the 1970's to prevent flood waters from South Chickamauga Creek from damaging the neighborhoods in Brainerd. This storm water control structure has created a freshwater marsh and seasonal mudflats. Habitats include a cattail marsh, seasonal mudflats, wet fields, wet woods, shallow ponds, fields with shrub and shrubby edges, and riparian woods. Access is via a paved trail atop the 2.6 miles long levee. Late afternoon viewing is best as the sun drops below the horizon.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers can be common in the wooded areas, including Wilson's, Cape May, Blackpoll (spring only) and Black-and-white, plus Common Yellowthroat and American Redstart. Willow and Alder Flycatchers are possible, plus Lincoln's and Vesper Sparrow. Shorebirds are the main attraction with a wide variety of species recorded here including Baird's, White-rumped, Stilt, Western, Least, and Semipalmated Sandpipers, American Golden Plover and Semipalmated Plover, and both yellowlegs. Virginia Rail and Sora are possible, but rare.

Summer: Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireo, Wood Duck, Common Nighthawk (summer and into fall), Eastern Wood-pewee, Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak.

Winter: Sandhill Crane (possible flyover in late fall through winter), waterfowl including Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, both scaup, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, and Northern Pintail, plus species like Rusty Blackbird, Hermit Thrush and Winter Wren.

Year-Round: Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Mallard, Canada Goose, Killdeer, and Brown-headed Nuthatch.

Rarities Seen at this Site: Red Phalarope (in FEBRUARY!), Common Gallinule, Mississippi Kite, Black-bellied Plover, Henslow's Sparrow, Leconte's Sparrow.

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Brainerd Levee
Take I-75 N to exit 4, Highway 153. Go north on Highway 153 to Shallowford Road exit, turn left (west) on Shallowford Road then two miles to intersection of Shallowford and North Moore Road. Parking lot is at the corner. Walk the paved path on the levee upwards of a couple miles and scan the flooded fields and wet areas, tall grass and woodlands. Just about anything can show up here.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Parking area: 35.043516,-85.218685

Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas.

There are no restroom facilities.

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site