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TENNESSEE WILDLIFE VIEWING TRAIL » East Tennessee
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Seven Islands State Birding Park

Site Directions: From I-40, take Exit 402 - Midway Rd. Turn south onto Midway Rd. This is a right turn if coming from Knoxville, left if coming from points east. Continue on Midway for 2 miles where you will turn left onto Maples Rd. (note: at the one mile point, Midway bears left). Watch for the green refuge signs. At the end of Maples (~ 1 mile), turn right onto Kodak Rd. After about a quarter mile, turn left onto Kelly Lane, which takes you right to the parking area. Just before the parking lot is a left turn to a boat launch area. This is also a part of the refuge, but the area is rarely birded.
Lat-Long: 35.95418, -83.68771
Hours: daylight hours
Seasonality: year round
Fees: none

Site Description: Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is a 360 acre State Park about 8.5 miles east of Knoxville. The refuge, on former farmland, includes the Kelly Bend peninsula along the French Broad River. Habitats include wooded hills, an intermittent stream, and several fields being restored to native warm-season grasses. A paved road extends over a mile into the property creating a prime birding route.

Upon arriving at the parking area, start listening for bird song. The most popular, and effective, route for birding here is simply to walk along the paved road from the parking lot towards the river. This road is mostly level, with a fairly short, gradual drop in elevation near the halfway point (possibly just a bit too steep for people in wheelchairs). There are about 6 miles of unpaved trails to explore.

There is a portojohn near the parking lot, but no other facilities on site.

Wildlife to Watch:
During the breeding season, nesting birds are quite a highlight here. Easily heard singing well into the summer are Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting. Orchard Orioles nest here too, but leave a bit earlier than the others. Purple Martins nest in a box and gourds erected by the Knoxville Chapter of TOS and Tree Swallows are also present.

In winter, hundreds of sparrows can be found, especially Field, Savannah, Song, Swamp, White-throated and White-crowned, with little effort. It is possibly the most reliable Knox County location to find White-crowned Sparrows. A Loggerhead Shrike may also be present. A Northern Harrier regularly cruises the hilly fields, and Short-eared Owls could occur as the grass fields become established.


For more information:

Seven Islands State Birding Park

Tennessee Ornithological Society site description

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Audubon Important Bird Areas site description

Seven Islands Bird List

Submit your data to eBird and help us add to the list of birds seen at this site


Be sure to check out our Safety Tips page for important information regarding viewing wildlife in these areas.