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Paddling With The Pelicans

Tucked away in the upper northwest corner of our state, Reelfoot Lake is 15 thousand acres of largely unspoiled nature. Created by a series of earthquakes in the early 1800’s, Reelfoot is a shallow lake, averaging only 5-6 feet deep. But what it lacks in depth it makes up for in diversity, as a home for a dazzling array of wildlife, including more than 56 species of fish and 240 species of birds. Reelfoot Lake State Park is a major stopping point for migrating waterfowl and American Bald Eagles come there by the hundreds to nest in the winter. But recently another bird has been showing up at the lake in large numbers too. Wild Side Guide Ken Tucker takes us out on the water in search of a bird you might not expect to find in Tennessee…the American White Pelican.

The pelicans start showing up at Reelfoot some time in September and can usually be found there until early November. They’ve become so popular that every October the park hosts a pelican festival to celebrate their visit. While the Pelican Festival happens every year in late fall, it’s not the only time to see the birds at Reelfoot. Since the birds stop off in the fall on their way south, that means they return again in the spring heading back north, giving you a second opportunity to see them in person.

Reelfoot Lake State Park offers a variety of birding canoe floats and boat tours throughout the year. For more information or to make a reservation call the visitor center at 731-253-9652.

From show 2904