Wallace Coffey birding
US 11E bridge over
South Fork Holston River (Boone Lake)
Sullivan County, TN
23 June 2015
This afternoon, an estimated 1,000+ Cliff Swallow nests
were observed under the two massive spans of the
Charlie Worley Bridge.
They are best viewed from beneath the spans at Lakeview Drive
west of Bluff City Hwy. This location is downstream from
the main business area of the community.
Most of the nests appear to be active and many adults
are flying to nests, which each appear to have two or three
young with heads poked out expecting food.
Counting adults and young in the nest, there may be as
many as three to four thousand Cliff Swallows present.
The nests are packed in so tight on the most downstream
side of the span, that there is really no way to count the
A survey of nest there in June 2011 found about 400
nests but there seems to be little doubt the colony
has doubled or tripled.
More than forty years ago three nests were found
under DeVault Bridge over Boone Lake along the
South Fork Holston River arm of the lake in May 1971.
They were at the only known nesting site in Northeast
Tennessee at that time. It had been almost 25 years
since nests had been found near Elizabethton in 1947.