5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Tennessee

By Alli Hill

5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Tennessee

Birdwatching takes serious concentration, planning, and effort if you want to catch a glimpse of your favorite bird species. Seasoned birdwatchers know that time and place is everything. If you aren’t in the right area at the right time of year, you’ll never know what amazing bird species you’ll have a chance to spot. Given Tennessee’s vast mountain regions and varied terrain, the entire state is a prime viewing ground for hundreds of bird species of all sorts—if you know where to look. Take a trip to these five best birdwatching spots in Tennessee and enjoy the views.

1. Seven Islands State Birding Park, Kodak, TN

The name gives its away—this is Tennessee’s premier birdwatching spot. The park is situated directly in the migratory path of its many visiting feathered friends. It’s also a prime breeding ground where visitors can find many nesting species. Purple martins and tree swallows are among the most commonly-sighted birds, but barn owls, sparrows, and singing birds are also quite popular. If possible, plan your visit for early morning or late afternoon for the best viewing opportunities.

2. Radnor Lake State Park, Nashville, TN

Aside from the Aviary Education Center, this park also features plenty of birding excitement. November through April offers glimpses of wintering waterfowl, including ring-necked and canvasback duck. During the fall and spring, head through the forest along Otter Creek Road and Lake Trail for migratory birdwatching. 

3. Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tiptonville, TN

Known for its eagle sightings (there’s even an Eagle Festival!), this park also plays home to migratory birds during the fall. White pelicans, cormorants, wood ducks, warblers, and wading birds are among the most popular denizens here. The park features a variety of habitats to attract a diverse bird population, including a lake and wooded areas. You can catch glimpses of birdlife from the visitor center, but Keystone Trail offers some of the best views. 

Summer at Reelfoot. .eagles

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4. Frozen Head State Park, Wartburg, TN

Dubbed an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Audubon Society, this area is essential for migrating neotropical birds. Flycatchers, gnatcatchers, warblers, and waterthrush are commonly sighted in the spring and summer months. A number of warbler species can be seen if you climb to the higher elevations of the park. In total, over 130 species of birds have been spotted in the park over the course of a year. Use the park’s variety of hiking trails to enjoy your bird spotting adventure.

I hope I never lose my awe of nature.

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5. Audubon Acres, Chattanooga, TN

Due to its mix of open flatlands and wooded acreage, this site is a true sanctuary for the feathered variety. Migrating species are commonly spotted here, including thrushes, flycatchers, warblers, and tanagers. Visitors have largely reported great horned owl and barred owl sightings, along with red-shouldered hawks that nest in the spring. Year-round you might see wild turkeys, bluebirds, woodpeckers, kingfishers, and nuthatches, while a variety of other species appear on a seasonal basis. 

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