The Brainerd levee and retention area were built in the 1970s 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. Access is via a paved trail atop the 2.6 miles long levee.
Marsh birds are the highlight of this location. Great blue heron, great egret, Virginia rail, sora, and American bittern are the special bids of this site, in season. Over 23 species of shorebirds have been documented. Marsh and sedge wrens are found here as well, both uncommon to rare birds in Tennessee. Palm warbler is a rare, but regular wintering bird. Common yellowthroat and orchard orioles breed here and waterfowl can be abundant in winter.
Take I-75 N to exit 4, Highway 153. Go north on Highway 153 to Shallowford Road exit, turn left (west) on Shallowford Road then two miles to intersection of Shallowford and North Moore Road. Parking lot is at the corner.
Best Months and Seasons for Viewing
Spring and fall are the best times to see marsh birds at the levee.
Best Time for Viewing
Although early mornings are best for bird activity, late afternoon viewing is best as the sun drops below the horizon.