Banner Marsh State Fish & Wildlife Area is located approximately 25 miles southwest of Peoria on U.S. Route 24 along the Illinois River. Habitats in this 4,300-acre wildlife area include scattered deep water lakes, floodplain forests, levees, shallow marshes and extensive grasslands.
Once a strip mine, Banner Marsh is now managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to provide homes for various plants and animals including myriad migratory waterfowl and American White Pelican as well as breeding wetland and grassland birds such as Least Bittern, Pied-billed Grebe, Hooded Merganser, Orchard Oriole, Bell?s Vireo, Henslow?s Sparrow, Bobolink and Sedge Wren. The grasslands here also serve as important wintering habitat for Rough-legged Hawk and Short-eared Owl.
Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area serves as an important stopover site for many species of fall and spring migratory shorebirds and waterfowl including Mallard and Blue-winged Teal; shorebirds; and terns. Waterfowl often remain well into winter until the water freezes over. Bald Eagles use the property in fall and winter, remaining, like the ducks, until conditions make it difficult to feed. This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for Shorebirds.
The American White-Pelican also congregates in fairly large numbers during spring migration at the state wildlife area.
Banner Marsh also supports breeding populations of wetland and grassland birds including Sora, Virginia Rail, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Least Bittern, Henslow's Sparrow and Bobolink.
Nesting platforms for Osprey, a very rare breeder in Illinois, have been erected at Banner Marsh. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has identified four active Osprey nests at Banner Marsh within the last several years.
Extensive grasslands serve as hunting grounds in winter for Short-eared Owl, Rough-legged Hawk and Northern Harrier.
The diversity of wintering, breeding and migratory species including waterfowl and shorebirds at Banner Marsh makes it an important site for bird populations in Illinois.
In the past, strip mining of the existing marsh was a large threat. Today, woody succession of grasslands and marshes and the spread of exotic species are the main concerns.
Banner Marsh includes scattered deep water lakes, floodplain forests, levees, shallow marshes and extensive grasslands. The wetlands are dominated by spike rushes and sedges.