Duck River Unit has been merged as part of the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge IBA.
The Duck River Unit of the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge primarily consists of highly dissected uplands that are largely forested, the adjacent waters and seasonal mudflats of Kentucky Lake, and the intensively managed bottomlands of the Duck River Bottoms.. Most of the active management occurs within the Duck River Bottoms. There are 14 impoundments totaling approximately 4,000 surface acres of water. Managed habitats in this area include 1,500 acres of agriculture, 1,300 acres of moist-soil wetlands, and 1,200 acres of open water and woody habitats. The agriculture lands are managed for waterfowl using a cooperative farming program where local farmers plant the fields in row crops and the rent is a portion of the crop that is left standing in the fields. The crops left for waterfowl usually are corn, millet, and winter wheat. Moist-soil management consists of lowering the water in some impoundments to allow annual plants to germinate naturally and gradually flooding to provide wetland habitat.
The upland forested areas provide habitat for many species of forest interior birds and currently support nesting Bald Eagles. The mudflats, particularly those at the mouth of the Duck River, are important fall migration habitat for shorebirds, and wintering habitat for waterfowl and wading birds. In addition to the waterfowl habitats, moist-soil areas provide excellent shorebird habitat during spring migration and rail habitat during fall migration. Sora is common in fall migration. Though numbers do not warrant criteria status, the following Tennessee Endangered/Threatened species are of note: Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagle.
Five pairs of Bald Eagles nest on the unit with up to four additional nesting pairs between the units. King Rail is found only in the Lower Duck River Bottoms of the unit and contains one of the highest concentrations of this species known in Tennessee. Number of individuals and locations from 2001-2005 are: 2001 (6 birds, 4 different locations), 2002 (3 birds, 3 different locations), 2003 (1 bird, 1 location), 2004 (2 birds, 1 location, 2005 (5 birds, 4 different locations).
The five-year waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) average from the "Tennessee Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey," 2001-2005, is 136,202 birds (29% of the statewide wintering total). The total annual number of waterfowl during that survey period is 240,413 (2001), 144,195 (2002), 116,062 (2003), 49,911 (2004), and 130,428 (2005). The five-year average for the major wintering duck species is Mallard (88,058 [31% of the statewide wintering total]), Gadwall (11,256 [33% of the statewide wintering total]), Northern Pintail (9,457 [64% of the statewide wintering total]), American Wigeon (6,153 [52% of the statewide wintering total]), American Black Duck (5,687 [54% of the statewide wintering total]), Green-winged Teal (5,545 [57% of the statewide wintering total]), and Ring-necked Duck (3,037 [25% of the statewide wintering total]).