As a Class II Natural Area, Radnor Lake is built around preserving and protecting natural resources and providing opportunities to view them. One such opportunity is bird watching or ‘birding’. Radnor is one of the best places in and around Nashville to do such a thing. According to eBird.org, a real-time online checklist database for birders and researchers around the world, Radnor has played host to 204 species of birds. That is second only to Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park (210 species) for the entire Nashville area.
There are two main types of birds at Radnor Lake, residents and migratory. Resident birds are seen all year long in the Natural Area and do not leave the area. These include birds like Carolina Wren, Downy Woodpecker, and Great Blue Heron. Migratory birds can be further broken down into summer migrants, winter migrants and spring/fall migrants.
Summer migrants mainly consist of Neotropical birds that primarily eat insects and travel to Central and South America in the winter. These birds can be seen as early as March and as late as October. Some species include Summer Tanager, Green Heron, and Great-crested Flycatcher.
Winter migrants usually spend the summer in the far north and venture south when the harsh winter arrives. Many of Radnor’s winter migrants are waterfowl that nest in the prairie pothole region (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa) and Canada, then move south in search of food. Some of our winter migrants include the Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, and White-throated Sparrow.
The spring/fall migrants are transient and may individuals only visit the park for a couple of days to a week twice a year. Radnor is basically a rest stop along the ‘interstate’ for these species: a safe place to rest, eat, sleep for the night and move on. Peak times for these birds are April-May and September-October. Most of our warbler species spotted in the park fall into this category, as well as birds like the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Philadelphia Vireo.
Due to our high concentration of birds, rangers periodically set up spotting scopes along Otter Creek Rd. and on the observation decks, especially during winter months to view migratory waterfowl on the lake. During peak migration times the Nashville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society (NTOS) conducts spring and fall walks in April-May and September-October on Wednesday mornings.
For a list of common species spotted at Radnor Lake, check out the Birding link above or visit:
For more info on Tennessee’s birds, birding, or birds in general, visit