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Norris Dam Reservation

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

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Site Description and Habitats

Norris Dam is a good year-round birding location about 20 miles north of Knoxville. It was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the early 1930s and was the first of the many large and small dams built by TVA. Over the years since then, TVA, Tennessee State Parks, and the City of Norris have developed many recreational facilities near Norris Dam. The area now offers a variety of habitats including Norris Lake, the river, riparian forests, mature woodlands, old fields and hedgerows, and a woodland stream.

Songbird Trail is an excellent, flat, graveled path that loops along the river and around woods and fields. It's very easy to spend a couple hours here and not get very far down the trail!

Riverbluff Trail is a 3.3-mile trail through old growth forest on the west bank of the Clinch River below Norris Dam and passes below moist limestone bluffs before climbing away from the river and returning along the ridgetop. The Riverbluff Trail has one of the most spectacular early spring wildflower displays in East Tennessee. The trail difficulty is moderate; allow plenty of time to enjoy the wildflowers and birds.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Osprey, Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrush, Hooded, Blackpoll(spring only), Blue-winged, Golden-winged, Tennessee, Nashville, Black-and-white, and Orange-crowned Warbler among many others, Least and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

Summer: Osprey, Yellow-throated Vireo, Chipping Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Wood-pewee

Winter: Swamp, White-throated, White-crowned, Fox, Field, and Savannah Sparrow, Purple Finch, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, among other residents

Year-Round: Barred Owl, Carolina Wren, American Goldfinch, American Robin, American Crow, Blue Jay, and Red-tailed Hawk

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Songbird Trail

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Norris Dam East Overlook

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - River Bluff Trail

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Norris Dam Reservation

From I-75 north of Knoxville, take exit 122 (Norris/Clinton). After exiting, turn east on TN 61 (right turn if exiting from I-75 N, left if exiting from I-75S). Turn left onto US 441N after 1.4 miles and after passing the Museum of Appalachia. After driving 6.3 miles on US 441N you will arrive at the dam (coordinates 36.2244, -84.0922). Alternatively, if traveling on I-75 south from Kentucky, take exit 128 (Lake City) and then US 441S for 4.5 miles to the dam.

On the way to the dam, there is a left hand split about 1/3 mi before the dam, turn left here to access the Songbird Trail. Park at the north end and walk the loop or do an out and back along the river.

From the west side of the dam, turn onto River Bluff Trail and drive the road or park safely and walk the road and bird.

Tennessee Ornithological Society details on birding the area

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Dam: 36.2244, -84.0922
Songbird Trail parking: 36.219548,-84.08848
River Bluff Trail: 36.2202, -84.0947

Fees and Hours
Open year round, daylight hours no fees.

There are restroom facilities at the dam overlook.

Nearby Norris Dam State Park - cabins, camping, etc.

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site