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Prentice Cooper State Forest and WMA
Site Description and Habitats
Prentice Cooper State Forest is located in southeastern Tennessee, in Marion County. The forest is approximately 10 miles west of Chattanooga. It is situated on the scenic Tennessee River Gorge. Approximately 6,939 acres are designated as unregulated scenic zones that protect this view shed and other scenic areas of the forest. Hicks Gap Natural Area (350 acres) also occurs in the forest and was developed to protect the federally endangered Large-flowered Skullcap. The forest also includes several in-holdings owned by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and 3 cemeteries. Management activities of the forest focus primarily on sustainable timber management, forest management demonstration and wildlife habitat improvement while maintaining recreational opportunities for the public.
There are 35 miles of hiking trails, including the south end of the Cumberland Trail State Park. There also are two designated camping areas. Hunting has been a traditional use of the forest. Other recreational activities include OHV use in designated areas, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, bird watching, and camping.
Bird species of interest
Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers, vireos, and thrushes are often common across the area. Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Nashville, Cape May, Cerulean and Blackpoll (spring only) Warbler, American Redstart, Swainson's Thrush, and Blue-headed Vireo can be common. Eastern Whip-poor-wills can be very abundant (mostly heard only) in spring and early summer at dusk and especially on nights with a full moon.Summer: Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireo, Worm-eating Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Eastern Wood-pewee.
Winter: Woodland birding can be slow, but look for Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglet, and sparrows may occur along forest edges. Golden Eagles are possible in winter as GPS tracked birds have passed by this area.
Year-Round: Barred and Eastern Screech-Owl are regular, resident species including Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, among other residents are common.
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Detailed directions for birding Prentice Cooper State Forest and WMA
The main road through the WMA is several miles long. Near the very end of the road is a pull off and a very short walk to a overlook of the gorge (definitely check this out!). Bird along the main road and check out trails. There's no specific spot to look for birds, but drive slow with your windows down and stop often.
Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
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