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Oak Ridge Reservation

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Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park

Advocates For the ORR

Birds of the ORR

Birds Sighted at Freels Bend

Clinch River
Photo by R. K. McConathy

The Clinch River borders the Oak Ridge Reservation and provides habitat for many plant and animal species.

Location: Oak Ridge, including the Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area, the Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Management Refuge Area, and the Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement (BORCE), in the counties of Anderson and Roane, Tennessee.
Physiographic Province:  PIF 13 (Southern Ridge and Valley); BCR 28 (Appalachian Mountains)
Tennessee Site Map - Oak Ridge Reservation
Geographical Coordinates: 
    Oak Ridge--Lat. 360037N  Long. 0841611W
    Freels Bend--Lat. 355710N  Long. 841321W
Elevation Range:  800' - 1200'
    850' Oak Ridge
    938' Freels Bend
Size:  33,750 acres

USGS 7.5’ quads:  Lovell, Windrock, others

Description:  The Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) borders on Melton Hill Lake and the Clinch River and is traversed by the East Fork Poplar Creek and Bear Creek. Land cover consists of the following:  Urban [Department of Energy (DOE) facilities and roads] 3,550 acres (10%); Transitional lands--old fields, pastures, utility ROWs, roadsides 6,750 acres (20%); and Forested lands 23,600 acres (70%), consisting of the following types--a) Mature upland deciduous forest, principally oak-hickory 9,850 acres (29%); b) Mixed pine-deciduous forest, principally shortleaf pine-oak hickory 8,500 acres (25%); c) Beetle-killed pine forests, now successional scrub 3,250 acres (10%); d) Pine forests and plantations, Loblolly Pine and Virginia Pine 2,000 acres (6%); and e) Barrens 47 acres (<1%) (Washington-Allen et al. 1995).

IBA Criteria:  3, 4f

Osprey on nest.
Photo by R. K. McConathy

Osprey on its nest in the Clinch River.

Ornithological Importance:  The Oak Ridge Reservation has large expanses of mature hardwood forest, unbroken by development or farmland; brushy corridors and cutover forest; abandoned pastures; grasslands; cedar glades and barrens; and wetlands. These habitats makes the ORR attractive to a large and diverse number of species.  Nearly 200 species have been documented. In Need of Management species observed include:
        Bald Eagle: A few birds are seen in winter, but there are no nesting records.
        Sharp-shinned Hawk:
Seen regularly crossing the roads on the bi-monthly and monthly goose observation surveys. No number is available and no nest has been documented but birds are present during the breeding season (James Evans, Kelly Roy).
        Olive-sided Flycatcher: A few are seen mainly during fall migration.
        Golden-winged Warbler: A few are seen the spring and fall migration periods.
       Cerulean Warbler: Recent sightings are June 5 (1) and July 18 (1), 1999; June 1, 2000 (1); and May 27 into July (1 male), 2002.
        Henslow's Sparrow: Has been observed only occasionally during the fall.
It is too recent from the planting of native warm season grasses to attract this expanding species (in the south), but the possibility exists for them in the future (James Evans).
    Note 1. 
Forested areas present significant sites for migrating and breeding woodland neotropicals. Out of 27 species determined to be of top conservation priority in the region by Partners in Flight, 23 species are present on the reservation during the breeding season. These and other neo-tropicals breeding include Yellow-billed Cuckoo (860), Chuck-will's-widow (25), Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher (320), Yellow-throated Vireo (90), Brown-headed Nuthatch (10?), Wood Thrush (1250), Yellow-throated Warbler (115), Prothonotary Warbler (20), Worm-eating Warbler (85), Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler (115), and Summer Tanager.
    The brushy areas, and cedar glades and barrens on the reservation have become limited elsewhere because of the replacement of native warm-season grasses, such as Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Broomsedge, with non-native pasture grasses such as fescue. Cedar glades and barrens are becoming rare habitats, but on the ORR they are relatively abundant on exposed limestone in small, drought-prone forest openings. Of special note is the Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Refuge designated to preserve some of the reservation's unique habitats and wildlife. This 3,000-acre area with three peninsulas (20 miles of Melton Hill Lake shoreline) is being managed and protected through a cooperative arrangement between the Department Of Energy and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Also, the Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement (BORCE), a 3,000-acre tract on the ORR that the Department of Energy has set aside for wildlife conservation under an agreement with the State of Tennessee. Some species associated with these habitats include Willow Flycatcher (19), Prairie Warbler (700), Yellow-breasted Chat (980), and Field Sparrow (450). Numbers based on 6-8 years of breeding bird point counts taken along 10-point count routes covering 159 points along 30 miles crisscrossing reservation.  Calculations of numbers of breeding birds assumes each counted bird represents a pair of birds per 21.8 acres (circle with radius of 0.20 miles [1,100 feet between points] = 21.8 acres).  Numbers based on average numbers counted during period and assumption that point count routes represent the 90% of 33,750 acres that are covered by forests or transitional lands.

Site Criteria



Avg. No Season

Max. No. Season

Years of Data


3, 4fHabitat: Natural and Species Assemblages (See Note 1 above.B  1995-20024, 6, 7a, 7b
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--Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area 5-Refuge Counts
6-Personal observations (John Devereux Joslin and associates)7-Other (a-The Migrant 1997-2003, b-Mann et al).

Ownership:  U. S. Department of Energy
   Contact:  Gerald Boyd, Manager, Oak Ridge Operations, Federal Building, P. O. Box 2001, Oak Ridge, TN 37830. James Evans, Manager, Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, P. O. Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37131-6038, 865-574-8204, 865-873-7108 (pager), jim.evans@state.tn.us. Pat Parr, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Area Manager, 865-576-8123, parrpd@ornl.gov . Kelly Roy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 865-574-7422, roywk@ornl.gov .

Conservation Concerns:
  Major concerns include introduced plants and animals, succession, fragmentation, and parasitism by cowbirds. Potential concerns include natural pests/disease, commercial development, residential development, recreational development/overuse, deforestation, and forestation.

Management Program:  There is a wildlife management plan for the Oak Ridge Reservation, the Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Refuge
, and the Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement (BORCE) that birds are mentioned generally and specially (James Evans). There is also a native grassland community management plan.

Submitted by:  John Devereux Joslin, Jr., Apdo. 104-5655, Santa Elena de Montervered, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, 011-506-645-7043,
devjoslin@hotmail.com .

Additional Contributors:  James Evans; Marti Salk, Environmental Sciences Division, ORNL; Kelly Roy.

The Migrant 1997-2003. Records in seasonal accounts for Ridge and Valley Region in The Migrant over the period 1997-2003.
Mann, L. K., J. M. Mitchell, J. W. Evans, J. D. Joslin, and M. D. Roedel. 1997. Birds of the Oak Ridge Reservations, Migrant:68:76-93.
Roy, W. K., J. W. Evans, and M. G. Ryon. 2001. The Red-headed Woodpecker and Brown-headed Nuthatch on the Oak Ridge Reservation: Relationship to recent landscape changes. Migrant 72:1-12.
Washington-Allen et al. 1995. Terrestrial mapping of the Oak Ridge Reservation, Phase I. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN. ES/ER/TM-152.  Modified and updated by information from Pat Parr, 2004, personal communication.

Approved as an IBA site:  December 2005--Yes 7  No 0

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