Peoria County - Tazewell County

Peoria Lake

Peoria Lake is the large body of water formed by the broadening of the Illinois River between Peoria and East Peoria. It may also be referred to as Lower Peoria Lake to be distinguished from Upper Peoria Lake to the north. It’s deceptively large (approximately 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide) and you can often be looking across as much as 2 miles of open water. Fortunately there are several publicly accessible locations from which to view it. Peoria Lake is a natural migratory corridor which thousands of ducks and other waterbirds use. It is especially productive for diving ducks from November through March. Large numbers of Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck, and Canvasback rest and feed here during migration. It’s also good for Bufflehead, Redhead and Ring-necked Duck. Common Goldeneye and Common Merganser are regular winter residents. It’s a one of the best places in the area to look for scoters and other uncommon diving ducks. It’s good for loons and grebes as well.

The strip of woods between Cooper Park South which starts behind Jonah’s Seafood House and extends north of the Carl Spindler Campground to the McCluggage bridge can be very good for migrant landbirds. There is a nice trail system and boardwalks through the area.

East Port Marina is a good area to check for gulls. They like to congregate and loaf on the piers. Jonah’s often throws out old dinner rolls which attracts Ring-billed Gulls and occasionally bigger gulls will come in as well. Herring Gull is common here and Glaucous Gull has been a rare but regular visitor in recent winters. Lesser Black-backed, Thayer’s, Iceland, California, Franklin’s, and Bonaparte’s have all been found here. I’ve seen reports of Sabine’s Gull on Peoria Lake as well, but have never seen or heard of one roosting at East Port Marina.

Here is map of Peoria Lake with some of the better birding spots.

View Peoria Lake in a larger map





  • Evan Carlson

    FYI on Waterworks Park (the northernmost marker): It’s Peoria’s gay hookup spot. I’ve never had any problem beyond people pulling their car next to mine when I park, but it’s something to be aware of.

    • Matthew Winks

      Thanks for the insight, Evan. I’ve noticed guys backed in there before
      and figured as much. I learned early on that it’s best not to back into a
      parking spot if you don’t want to be bothered. How’s the map and
      locations look? Do you think there’s anything I should add or omit?