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Wilbur Lake

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

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Site Description and Habitats

Wilbur Lake is a very small reservoir on the Watauga River, just below Watauga Dam. Beginning at Wilbur Dam, there are several parking lots. Just before crossing the bridge over the lake is a short road on the right that leads up to a small church. After crossing the bridge, the road forks. The right fork continues beside Wilbur Lake, ending at a seasonal campground. Wilbur Lake is easily scanned from many spots along this short route. The left fork of the road goes up over Iron Mountain ending at the overlook and visitor center (restrooms available) for Watauga Dam. The Appalachian Trail runs along the crest of Iron Mountain, crossing the road.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Bay-breasted, Tennessee, Blackpoll (spring only), Gray-cheeked Thrush, Double-crested Cormorant, Bonaparte's Gulls should be present off and on, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, among other passerine migrants.

Summer: Osprey, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Hooded and Black-throated Green Warbler, Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated Warbler,Baltimore Oriole

Winter: Waterfowl vary in abundance, but many species possible including Canvasback,Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Gadwall, and Green-winged Teal. White-winged and Surf Scoter, and Common Merganser are rare but possible. Ring-billed and Herring Gull, Common Loon, Pine Siskin, White-throated and Swamp, Hermit Thrush, and Purple Finch.

Year-Round: Wild Turkey, Bald Eagle, Black Vulture, Common Raven, Northern Mockingbird,

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Wilbur Lake
From Hwy 19E in Elizabethton, go north on Hwy 91. At 1.2 mile you will pass Great Lakes Pond on the right. Continuing on for 1.8 mile, turn right onto Blue Springs Road (at the traffic light). In 1.0 mile turn right on Steele Bridge Road, cross the bridge over the Watauga River, and continue straight following the river (the road becomes Wilbur Dam Road). Soon you will come to Wilbur Dam Rd. There's a parking area on the south side of the lake, just east of the dam where you can scan the lake. Look for other areas to pull off and scan.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Parking area above the dam, south side: 36.339969,-82.12452

Fees and Hours
Open year round, daylight hours. No fees associated with daily use.

There are restroom facilities at the parking area on Wilbur Dam Rd (portojohn).

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site