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Brainerd Levee

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Brainerd Levee

Photo by Kevin Calhoon

View of one of the ponds at Brainerd Levee.

Location:  Chattanooga, Brainerd area, north of Lovell Field (Chattanooga Municipal Airport), at the intersection of Shallowford Road and North Moore Road, Hamilton County, Tennessee.
Physiographic Area:  PIF 13 (Southern Ridge and Valley); BCR 28 (Appalachian Mountains)
Tennessee IBA Site Map - Brainerd Levee.bmp (80006 bytes)
Geographical Coordinates: 
     Brainerd--Lat. 350112N  Long. 0851425W
Elevation Range:  660'
     712' Brainerd
Size:  >500 acres
USGS 7.5’ quad:  East Chattanooga

Description:  The Brainerd levee and retention area were built in the 1970's to prevent flood waters from South Chickamauga Creek from damaging the neighborhoods in Brainerd. This stormwater control structure has created a freshwater marsh and seasonal mudflats. Habitats include a cattail marsh, seasonal mudflats, wet fields, wet woods, shallow ponds, fields with shrub and shrubby edges, and riparian woods.

IBA Criteria:  3

Ornithological Importance:  An assemblage of wetland species makes this a significant site for this area of Tennessee due to the lack of habitat.  
     Note 1. This area regularly attracts a complement of wetland species in small numbers. Comments on species and numbers are mainly in the period 2000-2005.
        Waterfowl (Ducks, Geese, and Swans). Mainly surface feeding ducks are present during the winter, mostly notably Gadwall and Green-winged Teal, each occurring in the range of 20-50 individuals. Resident Canada Goose are not eligible to be included. High waterfowl totals include: February 9, 1998 (470), April 10, 2000 (216), March 14, 2005 (129), and January 26, 2004 (105). Blue-winged Teal is present in passage spring and fall in flocks on average of 10-30 birds with notable numbers including--April 5, 1998 (250+) and April 10, 2000 (180+).
        Herons and Egrets. American Bittern
occurs consistently in April with 1-3 the norm, high--April 28, 2000 (4). Great Blue Heron is the most regular heron occurring throughout the year in numbers on average up to 10 individuals. Great Egret is a consistent spring and fall occurrence with 1-3 individuals, high--September 2, 2003 (7). Tricolored Heron has been detected once--September 19, 2004 (1).
Rails. Virginia Rail has been recorded twice--October 27, 2000 (1) and October 26, 2002 (1). Sora was present April and October with 1-4 birds being seen, highs--April 28, 2000 (6) and October 21, 2003 (4).
        Shorebirds. At least 23 species of shorebirds have been observed with the most common being Wilson's Snipe, Killdeer, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Least Sandpiper in that order with daily totals for all shorebirds generally under 50 birds. Common Snipe frequently occur 10-30 individuals with periods of over 100 present. Highs include--March 26-28, 2002 (150+) and April 4, 2004 (106).
        Marsh Wrens. Most records of Sedge Wrens are in April and September into early winter of 1-3 individuals, highs--October 27, 2000 (10) and April 23, 2001 (6). Winter record--December 16, 2000 (1). Marsh Wren is present regularly in April and October of 1-4 birds, high--October 27, 2000 (5).
        American Pipit. Generally appears in the spring in March into May. High counts--March 31, 2005 (20), and March 20-April 9, 2001 (2-10).
        Palm Warbler.  Occurs sporadically but annually in fall, winter, and/or spring of 1-4 individuals. High counts--April 2, 2000 (12), October 9, 2000 (10+), October 26, 2002 (8), and October 16, 2004 (8). Winter records--December 16, 2000 (2), January 13, 2003 (7), January 2, 2001 (6), and January 17, 2001 (2).

Site Criteria



Avg. No Season

Max. No. Season

Years of Data


3Habitat: Wetland (See Note 1 above.)W, SM, FM  2000-20056
Season1   B = Breeding, W = Wintering, SM = Spring Migration, FM = Fall Migration
Source 2  1-Atlas Breeding Birds of Tennessee 2-Breeding Bird Surveys 3-Christmas Bird Counts
4-Point Counts 5-Refuge Counts 6-Personal observations (Kevin Calhoon) 7-Other (specify)

Ownership:  City of Chattanooga

Conservation Concerns:  Serious concerns are disturbance to birds, drainage, and channelization. Major concerns include introduced plants and animals, and succession.

Management Program:  None.

Submitted by:  Doug Fritz, 423-757-0013.

Additional Contributors:  Kevin Calhoon, kac@tennis.org

Approved as an IBA site:  January 2006--Yes 6  No 1

This page was last updated on 02/19/06.