Northeast Indiana Birding Opportunities - Mississinewa Lake

Mississinewa Lake is a flood-control reservoir in north-central Indiana.

Mississinewa Lake sign on indiana birding trail


The 3,210-acre lake is surrounded by 14,386 acres of forests, prairies, and farmland which provide great habitat for bird watchers. Mississinewa Lake is made up of several state recreation areas including Miami SRA, Red Bridge SRA, Frances Slocum SRA, and Pearson Mill SRA and thousands of acres in designated resource management units. The open water of the lake provides a stopover site for white pelicans, various gulls, and several waterfowl species. The forests surrounding the lake provide excellent habitat for warblers, thrushes, and orioles. During the winter months, the area surrounding the lake is frequented by Bald Eagles and a site downstream from the dam on private land but visible from a public road hosts one of the largest Bald Eagle roosts in the Midwest.

Start birding Mississinewa Lake by traveling over the dam. Check the tailwaters for eagles and gulls. Hike the Lost Sister Trail in the Frances Slocum SRA for a moderate hike through forests and along the shoreline to view thrushes, orioles, woodpeckers, and warblers in the spring and fall. Miami SRA offers a fishing pond with excellent habitat for waterfowl including nesting Wood Ducks along with Belted Kingfishers and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Check the beach area (in the off-season) for wintering eagles and shorebirds. Follow the Blue Heron Trail in the spring for great views of waterfowl on the lake. Keep your eyes open for American Woodcock along the trail. Red Bridge SRA yields a bird’s eye view of the lake. Use a scope to look for waterfowl on the open waters and for white pelicans passing through during migration. The upper reaches of the lake east of the S.R. 13 bridge are good places to watch for herons and egrets at lake access points.

While most of Mississinewa Lake is free to visit, the SRAs have an entrance fee during the main recreation season, generally from March-November. (should be April through October though) Pay attention to hunting zones during hunting season. One can easily spend an entire day birding the property, but most of the area can be birded by car in a few hours.

eBird Hotspot Link:

Total Birding Time:
2-4 hours, but full day birding the entire lake by car is possible.

Best Times to Bird: 
While the lake can be birded all year long, the best birding occurs during the off season and winter months when the lake isn't overrun with boats and people. Visit during the winter months to see the large numbers of Bald Eagles that move south to find open water.


4673 S. 625 E
Peru, IN 46970.
This address leads to the Miami SRA. Most visitors come from S.R. 124 or S.R. 19 east and south from Peru respectively.
Hours: The lake and nearby roads are open 24 hours, however Miami SRA hours are 7am-11pm.

Ownership: Owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; leased and operated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks (except for the immediate vicinity around the dam and the tailwaters.)
Admission: Indiana State Park entrance fees apply at Miami SRA. $7 in-state vehicles, $9 out of state vehicles. No gate fees in certain off-season weekdays.
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. A summary of property rules can be found at Pay attention to hunting zones during hunting season.
Parking: Variety of paved parking lots throughout property.
Nearby Amenities: Vault toilets are in each SRA. Campground located at Miami SRA offers 400+ camp sites and cabins. Four boat ramps and a marina are offered on the lake. Hotels located in the nearby cities of Peru and Marion.
Accessibility: Paved parking lots offer close parking and views of the lake.
Phone Number: (765) 473-6528

Written by: April Raver
Photo by: 
April Raver