The paved wildlife drive at the Grassy Island refuge unit, including the walking trail and viewing tower, are accessible in winter and year-round. Between 100 to 200 eagles typically spend the winter here. The refuge and surrounding lake are major wintering, migration and production areas for waterfowl in the southeast. Ducks, primarily mallards, gadwall, American wigeon and ring-necked ducks, begin arriving in October.
In recent years, the mallard population reached 400,000 in midwinter. There can be as many as 100,000 Canada geese in January. The refuge’s bird checklist includes more than 230 other species.
Visitors may borrow birder backpacks any day of the week from the visitor center. They must be returned by 3 p.m. Backpacks come with an array of bird guides and a pair of binoculars to help identify and view the wide variety of wildlife at Reelfoot Lake.