Black Bayou Refuge
Site Directions: From Tiptonville, travel north on Hwy 78 for approximately 5 miles to signs for Black Bayou Refuge on the right. The major gravel road entrance is the main entrance to the site.
Lat-Long: 36.44587, -89.39641°W
Hours: daylight hours
Seasonality: Open year round, including designated observation areas that are open through the winter; however the refuge is closed to all other forms of trespass from Nov 15 through the last day of February.
Site Description: Black Bayou Refuge is a 1,350 acre management area adjacent to Reelfoot Lake in Lake County, TN. The area is comprised of mature forest, willow thickets, sloughs and open water (when water is retained and area is flooded). Crops are planted in ponds for wintering waterfowl use. A large Observation Tower, built with funds from the Watchable Wildlife Endowment Fund, can be good for wildlife viewing; however the tower overlooks corn fields and rarely offers habitat and wildlife to view.
Burnt Woods Rd (36.444278,-89.385667) is a road/trail through bottomland hardwood forests. Drive past the observation tower and in two-thirds of a mile the road bends to the left and on the right is a small road that leads to a parking area. Walking this road in winter can be very productive with all the resident woodpeckers present, fox sparrows, hermit thrushes, both kinglets, etc. Woodland birding here is excellent. In summer, if you are willing to walk far enough and put up with the mosquitoes, you can find Swainson's Warblers in the cane thickets.
Upon driving further up the main gravel road you pass an old pumping station and eventually come out of the woods along ag fields. Some of these fields retain water and may produce shorebirds. Some years these fields are planted in rice and can be excellent rail habitat if you know when they are harvesting in September.
Observation platform built with Watchable Wildlife funds.
Wildlife to Watch: Waterfowl are abundant in winter. Shorebirds may be common in spring and fall if habitat is managed properly. Flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds may frequent the area in late summer. In winter, look for gatherings of Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks. Uncommon finds in winter may include Short-eared Owl, Rough-legged Hawk, and LeConte's Sparrow. In summer 2010, a willow flycatcher was found singing in the thickets just past the main entrance off Hwy 78.
NOTE: Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates. Access dates vary by site.
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Be sure to check out our Safety Tips page for important information regarding viewing wildlife in these areas.