The Reelfoot area has been designated by the U.S. Department of Interior as a National Natural Landmark. At least 14 rare bird species may be seen including Bald and Golden Eagle, Swainson’s Warbler, Peregrine Falcon, and Mississippi Kite. Over 200 species of birds may be seen during the course of a year. Up to 200 Bald Eagles winter at Reelfoot along with thousands of Mallards and other waterfowl.

Bird watching is one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreational activity in the country. Each year millions of people discover for the first time, the joys of bird watching. You can watch birds just about everywhere in the national parks, wildlife refuges, or right in your own back yard. More than 65 million Americans of all ages watch, feed, and landscape for birds. All it takes to get their attention is food, water, shelter, and a place to raise their young.

  • 8,000 Herons & Egrets roost at Reelfoot Lake
  • Hundreds of White Pelicans in cooler temperatures: Length: 62″, Wingspan: 108″, Weight: 16.4 lbs.
  •  40 pairs of American Bald Eagles make Reelfoot Lake their home all year
  • Butterflies and Dragonflies are in abundance here in the summer
  • 127 different species counted at the Christmas Bird CountReelfoot Lake offers 12,500 acres of water and 17,500 acres of land to explore, a total of 30,000 acres of beauty! Bird watching is very popular on Reelfoot Lake because of the abundance of species that can be observed throughout the year, since we are located on the Mississippi Fly Way.  There are over 240 plus species in the Reelfoot Lake area. They include shorebirds, warblers, songbirds, herons, egrets, rails, bittern, osprey and many others.  The huge white pelicans have made a home at Reelfoot Lake and return in the spring and fall migration by the thousands. And, of course, American Bald Eagles winter at Reelfoot Lake some making Reelfoot Lake their home. The Reelfoot Lake State Park (731-253-9652) conducts Eagle Tours in January & February for a donation of $14 & the USFW Refuge (731-538-2481) offers free Eagle Tours.

Many gathered at Reelfoot Lake in June for a Butterfly Count. Pipevine Swallowtail 3, Zebra Sw. 19, E. Tiger Sw. 23, Spicebush Sw. 4, Cabbage White 11, Clouded Sulphur 1, Orange Su. 7, Cloudless Su. 9, 1Bronze Copper 2, E. Tailed-Blue 9, ‘Summer’ Spring Azure 20, Am. Snout 28, Gr. Spangled Fritillary 3, Phaon Crescent 3, Pearl Cr. 16, Question Mark 4, E. Comma 4, Am. Lady 1, Red Admiral 6, Com. Buckeye 9, Red-spotted Purple 3, Viceroy 14, Hackberry Emperor 3, Tawny Em. 1, Monarch 3, Silver-spotted Skipper 12, Horace’s Duskywing 1, Com. Sootywing 1, Least Sk. 16, Little Glassywing 1, 2Yehl Sk. 11, Broad-winged Sk. 17, Dun Sk. 8. Unidentified: Dark Swallowtail sp. 6, Brushfoot sp. 5. Total 33 species, 284 individuals. Field Notes: Dragonfly numbers were extremely high and predation seemed to have substantially impacted butterfly numbers. Almost all open areas, even with good nectar sources, were nearly devoid of butterflies, but dragonflies were thick and patrolling the areas. We noted several occasions when we flushed a butterfly for it only to be captured by a dragonfly.1Rare in TN. 5th consecutive year seen. 2High number of this uncommon species in TN.

INTERESTING FACTS: To the right is the Bobolink, spotted on the Levee Rd., Tiptonville in May

  • Each fall, they gather in large numbers in southern rice fields, where their habit of eating grain has earned them the name “ricebird.” They are collected as food in Jamaica, where they are called “butter birds”–a commentary on how fat they are as they pass through on migration.
  • The Bobolink is the only American bird that is black underneath and white on the back. This coloring makes the male stand out while he is performing his displays. After breeding he changes into a drab, camouflaged plumage to spend the rest of the year.
  • They are one of the few songbirds that undergo two complete molts each year, completely changing its feathers on both the breeding and wintering grounds.
  • A group of bobolinks are collectively known as a “chain” of bobolinks

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Bird watching on Reelfoot Lake

Bird watching on Reelfoot Lake

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