Ranger’s Corner

Nate Housley
Hello All, my name is Nathaniel Housley, and I am a Ranger here at Harrison Bay State Park. I have been a Park Ranger with Tennessee State Parks since 2012. Thanks for visiting the Ranger Corner where you’ll find some useful facts and information you can use to enhance your outdoor experience. I hope you enjoy our topic this month discussing winter birding and how these tips can make your next outing more enjoyable. Thanks for reading and be sure to check us out next month for next new Ranger Corner topic.


bald eagle cardinalflickerbluebird  mallard

January 2014

Well the New Year is upon us, the holidays are behind us, and we may find ourselves looking for ways to get out and enjoy some of the free time we now have. One great way to use that free time is to go out and do some winter birding. Winter birding gives many unique opportunities to enjoy seeing many different types of birds that will migrate down from the north. Spotting many songbirds this time of year is much easier with the lack of leaves and cover for them to take shelter. Many different species of songbirds will flock together offering them more protection and making it easier to find food, this gives us a chance to see many types of birds at one time. Lakes and large bodies of water are a great place to be for winter bird viewing. Many song birds will be visible along open fields and wood lines, while water fowl like ducks and geese that feed on aquatic plants will be found around bays and streams. Open fields are great areas for looking for birds of prey like red tail hawks, which will perch along the edge to hunt the open land.

Harrison Bay is a great place to come bird watch with many great bird viewing areas. In the short time after the holidays I have personally had five eagle sightings and seen many woodpeckers like red heads and flickers. Songbirds like blue birds, cardinals, and chickadees are common just about anywhere in the park. Waterfowl viewing can be done from just about anywhere in the park with our nearly 40 miles of shoreline along the Chickamauga Lake.


What You’ll Need

You will want to pack light and warm for this time of year. A good set of binoculars and a pocket bird guide are a must have. For clothing it is best to wear layers of clothing made of water resistant fabrics with warm sock and shoes that are insulated and waterproof. Some type of warm hat and gloves are items you will want to bring as well. It is important to bring water with you to stay hydrated; even though it is cold you can still get dehydrated real quickly. A nutritious snack is also important to replace the calories you’ll burn and keep your energy level up.

Look through past posts:


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rangers corner

Hello, I am Matthew Vawter I have been a park ranger with Tennessee State Parks since 2009. This “Ranger’s Corner” section of the page will be our way of keeping you up to date on what is happening at Harrison Bay from a ranger’s perspective. Please check in regularly to stay current with what we are doing and to give us feedback on what you would like to see at the park.

December 2013

This time of year most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, and we are moving into the cold grip of winter. Most people are not as excited about getting outdoors when it is bellow freezing, but there are still some interesting things we can enjoy even in the cold.

Mistletoe growing in a tree.             

When all the leaves are down it is the perfect time to see mistletoe, a holiday favorite. This evergreen plant stands in contrast to the bare trees that host it. Mistletoe is a partial parasite, meaning that it actually gains some of its nutrients from the tree it grows on, and some from the sun like other plants. If you go out to search for this wintertime wonder you may wonder how it got so high up in the tree it is in. The answer is in its fruit. Mistletoe has very sticky berries that birds wipe off onto the bark of trees when they adhere to their beaks. This allows the mistletoe to get a nice high up perch in the tree right from the time it breaks out of its seed.

While you are in the park admiring the romantic mistletoe take a look over at the old park office to see the outline of where we plan to put  our raptor enclosure. When it is completed it will be on display year round for all of the public to enjoy learning about these fascinating birds. We will be keeping birds that have been too severely impacted by humans to be released back into the wild. They will get a second chance to live, and we will get a chance to educate the public about how to interact with these interesting creatures.