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Eagle Lake Refuge

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Shelby Co.

Note: The Eagle Lake Refuge is part of the IBA site, Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Tennessee.

Location:  Memphis, bound on the north by Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, on the east by a bluff, on the south by private lands, and on the west by the Mississippi River, Shelby County, Tennessee.
Physiographic Province:  PIF 05 (Mississippi Alluvial Valley); BCR 26 (Mississippi Alluvial Valley)
Tennessee IBA Site Map - Eagle Lake Refuge.bmp (80006 bytes)
Geographical Coordinates: 

    Eagle Lake--Lat. 3517449N  Long. 0900448W 
Elevation Range:  215' - 225'
    217' Eagle Lake
Size:  2,818 acres
USGS 7.5’ quad:  Locke

Description:  Acquired by TWRA in 1992, the site is a converted cotton farm. Originally the area was bottomland forest. However, in the mid-1970's the area was cleared and farmed. The purpose of the wildlife management area is "to provide wintering waterfowl and fall shorebird migration habitat. Approximately 21,383 feet of low-lying terraces were constructed, providing 13 shallow water control units encompassing 500 acres. Two wet water wells were established providing a combined capacity of 2,000 gallons per minute for flooding of these units. A 7,200-foot canal, with water control structures, was constructed to effectively distribute the water from the wells to the cells. Some 310 acres were reforested with bottomland oaks. Approximately five miles of roads were constructed to provide access to the various control structures, wells, and distribution canal (Dan Fuqua)." The area is 80% forested, .2% agricultural, and 18% open water. Bottomland forest species include oak, beech, hickory, elm, gum, and tupelo. There is an observation tower.

IBA Criteria:  2, 4a

Ornithological Importance:  The flooded fields in winter provide resting and forging for waterfowl, and food and staging for migrating shorebirds.  Rails use the marshy areas on the edge of the wetlands. The bottomland forest provides food and nesting habitat for neotropical migrants. Wading Birds use the refuge. Numbers include: Great Blue Heron--June 8, 2003 (30) and June 20, 2004 (57); Great Egret--June 8, 2003 (45) and September 6, 2004 (31); and Cattle Egret--August 17, 2002 (100). Shorebirds during spring and fall migration periods can number a thousand or more, but habitat is limited. Soil is porous and pumped water is held only when the river is high. There is a shorebird management plan but it has not been implemented (TWRA 2000). Species counts include: April 24, 2004 (15 species). High numbers include: Killdeer--August 9, 20204 (450), Black-necked Stilt--August 7, 2004 (30), Greater Yellowlegs--April 2, 2005 (74), Lesser Yellowlegs--September 6, 2004 (24), and Least Sandpiper--September 6, 2004 (64).
    Note 1. Anhinga, a Tennessee In Need of Management species, occurs on the refuge during the breeding season. Records include: May 18, 2002 (1 male) displaying over rookery north of refuge, July 13-19, 2002 (1, adult male) possibly same birds as May 18, 2002, June 14-August 9, 2004 (1 male), and May 7, 2005 (1, male). A nest was found in the adjoining Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, May 27, 1999 (1 pair + nest).
    Note 2. Three pairs of Mississippi Kites, a Tennessee In Need of Management species, bred, 1996-1998 (Memphis Chapter TOS Weekly Survey). In addition, significant numbers of kites use the refuge--June 8, 2003 (28), June 20, 2004 (22), and July 24, 2005 (44, flock); forging flocks number in the 100's (Dick Preston, Van Harris, Virginia Reynolds).
    Note 3. The five-year waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) average from the "Tennessee Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey," 2001-2005, is 4,568 birds. The total annual number of waterfowl during that survey period is 107 (2001), 8,500 (2002), 2,351 (2003), 5,149 (2004), and 6,734 (2005). The five-year average for the major wintering duck species is Mallard (3,266), Gadwall (550 [two years none]), Green-winged Teal (220 [two years none]), and American Wigeon (161 [two years none]). Canada Goose is virtually absent during the survey period. Numbers of both waterfowl and geese can be much higher during the migration periods.

Site Criteria



Avg. No Season

Max. No. Season

Years of Data


2Anhinga (NOM) (See Note 1 above.)B<1 1999-20056, 7
2Mississippi Kite (NOM) (See Note 2 above).B  1996-20056, 7


Waterfowl (See Note 3 above.)






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 (Martha Waldron)
7-Other (Memphis Chapter TOS weekly survey)

Ownership:  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
    Contact:  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, 200 Lowell Thomas, Jackson, TN 38301, 800-372-3928

Conservation Concerns:  Potential concern is introduced plants.

Management Program:  See references.

Submitted by:  Martha Waldron, 1014 Murray Hill Lane, Memphis, TN 38120, 901-761-0895, Martha.Waldron@stlouis.cdom.org

Additional Contributors:

Fuqua, D. Wildlife Management Plan/Eagle Lake Refuge. TWRA.
TWRA, 2000. Shorebird Habitat Management Plan, Eagle Lake Refuge.

Approved under the umbrella IBA site Mississippi Alluvial Valley:  February 2006--Yes 7  No 0

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