Seasons of Wildlife

Spring is the season of re-growth.  The bare, frosted trees of winter transform into lush green forests booming with life.  In March, nesting opsrey return from South America.  Resident wood ducks return and begin nesting activity.  Large numbers of northern shovelers and blue-winged teal arrive on their northward migration home.  Closed portions of the refuge open on March 16th for the public to visit and enjoy.  

The turkey quota hunt is conducted in April.  Spring wildflowers are blooming.  Shorebirds and ducks are abundant in our moist soil units.  April and May are great months for hiking and canoeing/kayaking.

In May, Bluegill fishing is at its peak!  Songbirds, specifically warblers, are abundant this month.  Mississippi kites can be seen, as well as whitetail deer and turkey.  Due to the warmer days, May is a great month for frog listening, especially for spring peepers and green tree frogs.  

Even though the summer months are hot and humid at Reelfoot Lake, there is still plenty to enjoy.  Reelfoot NWR's annual Youth Fishing Rodeo is conducted in June.  During June and July, herons, egrets, cormorants are observed in abundance at Reelfoot Lake.  Deer fawns are also visible this month.  Emergent and floating aquatic vegetation is blooming.  This is a great time to view the American Lotus blooming on the refuge!

Squirrel season begins on the fourth Saturday of August. 

Autumn introduces cooler weather and bright yellow, orange and red foliage.  Northern harriers are observed near refuge headquarters in September.  Fall fishing for "stripes", crappie, and bass begin.

October has great hiking and canoeing/kayaking weather.  Paddle down our canoe trails for great opportunities to see a variety of wildlife!  Large numbers of gadwall and American widgeon arrive this month.  Raccoon and archery deer seasons begin. 

Bald eagles begin arriving in November.  Portions of the refuge close on November 15th to ensure a safe and undisturbed place for the wintering waterfowl.  All hiking trails and viewing towers are still open, as well as the Grassy Island Wildlife Viewing Road, which is open 365 days a year.  Drive the Grassy Island Wildlife Viewing Road for excellent opportunities to view deer, turkey, waterfowl and songbirds.   

Winter brings about the season the refuge has prepared for throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Crisp mornings, cold weather, and shorter days tell waterfowl it's time to migrate! 

December offers excellent opportunities to observe ducks, geese, and eagles at our Long Point unit.  Free eagle & waterfowl tours are offered during January and February.  For reservations for tours, please call the Reelfoot NWR Visitors Center at 731-538-2481, or email Refuge Ranger, Tara Dowdy.  

Waterfowl concentrations of up to 150,000 ducks and 50,000 geese can be observed in January.  

The end of January to the beginning of February is the peak time for eagle watching.  Cold weather crappie fishing is going strong.  The Grassy Island unit is open for fishing on the first of February.