Having lived in Tennessee most of my life, I take great pride in our state parks system. It consists of 56 properties, all free to access. The state’s newest park is Seven Islands State Birding Park. As the name implies, it was created as a place to go birding.
The park had been a farm for most of the 20th century, and in 2002 it became a wildlife refuge through a collaboration between the Seven Islands Foundation, a nonprofit land conservancy, and the Knox County Parks and Recreation Department. It opened as a state park in July 2014.
The best way to enjoy the park is by walking one of its four main trails. They range in round-trip length from 1.6 miles (the Upland Trail Inner Loop) to 3.4 miles (the Seclusion Bend Trail).
More than 200 species have been recorded here, including waterfowl, waders, raptors, shorebirds, owls, and songbirds. On a visit this spring, another birder and I saw common species like Cedar Waxwing, Brown Thrasher, Carolina Wren, Blue Jay, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Field Sparrow, and best of all a Harris’s Sparrow, which is rare for Tennessee.