Eagle Bend Fish Hatchery


The Eagle Bend Fish Hatchery is a short distance from I-75 in Clinton and about 20 miles from Knoxville. It is operated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for rearing cool water fish. It is also a productive place for shorebirds, wading birds, and waterfowl.

Hatchery Ponds

From I-75 north of Knoxville, take Exit 122, TN 61, Norris-Clinton. Turn west (left if from I-75 North) onto TN 61 towards Clinton. Go about 3.8 miles and take the first left after crossing the large bridge over the Clinch River. This road is not well marked - watch for the TWRA Hatchery and Wildlife Observation Area signs. If you go through a stoplight after crossing the river, you have gone too far. Shortly after turning off of TN 61, you will arrive at the hatchery gate on the right (coordinates N 36.1210°, W 84.1153°).

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The hatchery is open for birding during normal operating hours of 8 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. The hatchery may be open at other hours by special arrangement for events such as organized field trips. Although not required, checking in at the hatchery office (on the left immediately after entering the hatchery site) is recommended. Hatchery personnel are often aware of unusual birds.

Bird the area by slowly driving the gravel roads on the dikes around the ponds. The dikes without gravel roads can be slippery, so please avoid driving on them. By staying in your car, you can sometimes often shorebirds and other birds at close range. At other times, it may be necessary to get out of the car to view birds.

Several of the ponds have plastic liners, which reduces their attractiveness to shorebirds. The best shorebird ponds are often the unlined ponds at the back of the hatchery. The large, uppermost pond on the west side of the hatchery is frequently best for waterfowl.

One of the unlined hatchery ponds.
Northern Rough-winged Swallows nest in the white plastic drain pipes (on the left of the concrete structure).

Hatchery Pond

Regularly observed shorebirds include Killdeer, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary, Spotted, Semipalmated, Least, White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers, and dowitchers. Less frequently observed shorebirds include Black-necked Stilt (1 record), American Avocet, Willet, Sanderling, and Baird's, Stilt and Buff-breasted Sandpipers.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover.

Great Blue Herons nest in the large trees along the adjacent Clinch River, and are present year round. Other herons and egrets occur regularly from spring through fall. Ospreys also occur regularly from spring through fall, as do a large variety of swallows. Bobolinks occasionally occur in the grassy areas during late spring, and Grasshopper Sparrows have nested on the grassy hillside at the back corner of the hatchery.

From fall through spring, Savannah Sparrows often occur in the short grass along the roadsides. Wilson's Snipe and, depending on how thick the cattails and other vegetation is, may lurk in the drainage ditches. It is, therefore, often productive to walk along these ditches.

Canada Geese and Mallards are numerous throughout the year and Wood Ducks are present during the late summer and early fall. Blue-winged Teal are usually present in late spring and early fall. From fall through spring, other regularly observed ducks include American Wigeon, American Black Ducks, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, and Lesser Scaup. Several other ducks occur less frequently.

During spring and summer, check the underside of the TN 61 bridge over the Clinch River for nesting Cliff Swallows. These can be viewed from the boat lauching ramp on the northeast side of the bridge (across the river from the hatchery). They are also easily viewed from the hatchery side by going straight towards the river, past the hatchery entrance, on the road turning off of TN 61. Prothonotary Warblers nest in the trees along the river near the bridge and downstream adjacent to the hatchery.

Heron Nests

Great Blue Heron nests in trees along the Clinch River. Prothonotary Warblers also nest in this area.

Photos by Charles P. Nicholson

Tennessee Watchable Wildlife account.

DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer Page 59, Grid D-6.

Wildlife Observation Area

Prepared by Charles P. Nicholson, November 2004.

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