Southwest Birders
Read about our adventures and thoughts on birding in Arizona, California, and other locales. Check back weekly for updates!

December 2023
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Yuma County Birding
Filed under: Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 5:23 pm

On Saturday (Mar 16) Rick Romea, Al, Mike, Brock, Lowell, and I spent a great day roaming Yuma County in search of birds and came up with 112 species.
(FOS = First of Season)

We started out at the Yuma West Wetlands with

North and west of Yuma the BURROWING OWLS were out in force, and we had 13 of them.
Along the Yuma Main Drain we had 6 HOODED MERGANSERS, and along another drain farther along we had a COMMON MERGANSER.

We spent an hour south of County Ave 19 and had the following raptor count:

In the Wellton area we had:

At Imperial NWR and Martinez Lake were:
6+ LUCY’S WARBLERS (heard and seen)

Finally, on the east side of the Yuma West Wetlands we had a VERY large western diamond-backed rattlesnake.

This past Thursday and Friday (14-15 Mar) Al and Helga have had a ZONE-TAILED HAWK fly over their place in south-central Yuma.

On Thursday (14 Mar) Brock had a GRAY VIREO in the King Valley on Kofa NWR.

Good hunting!

Bird List, 16 Mar 2013
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Eared Grebe
3 Western Grebe
4 Clark’s Grebe
5 Neotropic Cormorant
6 Double-crested Cormorant
7 Great Blue Heron
8 Great Egret
9 Snowy Egret
10 Cattle Egret
11 Green Heron
12 Black-crowned Night Heron
13 White-faced Ibis
14 Greater White-fronted Goose
15 Canada Goose
16 Gadwall
17 Blue-winged Teal
18 Mallard
19 Cinnamon Teal
20 Northern Shoveler
21 Green-winged Teal
22 Redhead
23 Ring-necked Duck
24 Greater Scaup
25 Bufflehead
26 Common Goldeneye
27 Hooded Merganser
28 Common Merganser
29 Red-breasted Merganser
30 Ruddy Duck
31 Osprey
32 Northern Harrier
33 Cooper’s Hawk
34 Swainson’s Hawk
35 Red-tailed Hawk
36 Ferruginous Hawk
37 American Kestrel
38 Ring-necked Pheasant
39 Gambel’s Quail
40 Clapper Rail
41 Sora
42 Common Moorhen
43 American Coot
44 Killdeer
45 Black-necked Stilt
46 Greater Yellowlegs
47 Spotted Sandpiper
48 Long-billed Curlew
49 Western Sandpiper
50 Least Sandpiper
51 Long-billed Dowitcher
52 Wilson’s Snipe
53 Turkey Vulture
54 Rock Pigeon
55 Mourning Dove
56 Inca Dove
57 Common Ground-Dove
58 Eurasian Collared Dove
59 Greater Roadrunner
60 Great Horned Owl
61 Burrowing Owl
62 Black-chinned Hummingbird
63 Anna’s Hummingbird
64 Costa’s Hummingbird
65 Belted Kingfisher
66 Gila Woodpecker
67 Red-naped Sapsucker
68 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
69 Northern Flicker
70 Black Phoebe
71 Say’s Phoebe
72 Vermilion Flycatcher
73 Ash-throated Flycatcher
74 Western Kingbird
75 Loggerhead Shrike
76 Warbling Vireo
77 Common Raven
78 Horned Lark
79 Tree Swallow
80 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
81 Cliff Swallow
82 Verdin
83 House Wren
84 Marsh Wren
85 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
86 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
87 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
88 Northern Mockingbird
89 Crissal Thrasher
90 European Starling
91 Phainopepla
92 Wilson’s Warbler
93 Orange-crowned Warbler
94 Yellow-rumped Warbler
95 Common Yellowthroat
96 Abert’s Towhee
97 Chipping Sparrow
98 Brewer’s Sparrow
99 Savannah Sparrow
100 Song Sparrow
101 Lincoln’s Sparrow
102 White-crowned Sparrow
103 Red-winged Blackbird
104 Western Meadowlark
105 Yellow-headed Blackbird
106 Brewer’s Blackbird
107 Great-tailed Grackle
108 Brown-headed Cowbird
109 Bullock’s Oriole
110 House Finch
111 Lesser Goldfinch
112 House Sparrow

Bird Festivals Coming Up!
Filed under: California, Arizona
Posted by: Bob @ 11:47 am

Hi all,

It is birding festival time again and two of the best in the southwest are coming up fast! I will be leading multiple trips for each of these festivals.

The San Diego Bird Festival is one of the largest and most popular in the west and it also attracts all of the major optics vendors so this is a great opportunity to get your hands and face on a lot of optics to see what best suits you and or your budget!!

The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival takes place in Cottonwood Arizona, at the Deadhorse Ranch State Park, about halfway between Phoenix and Flagstaff. It is a smaller festival and one of my favorites!

Clicking on the title of the festival will open the webpage for that festival in a new window.

2013 San Diego Bird Festival
February 28-March 3

John Fitzpatrick and Bill Thompson will be the main speakers in 2013. They will also be co-leading bird trips and conducting workshops.

John Fitzpatrick is the director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. His current research focuses on the ecology, conservation biology, and population genetics of the endangered Florida Scrub Jay. His book, Florida Scrub Jay: Demography of a Cooperative-breeding Bird earned him a William Brewster Award, the highest research award given by the American Ornithologists’ Union.

Bill Thompson is the editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest. He is the author of many books including The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America. He leads birding trips across North America and has birded in more than 25 countries.

Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival
April 25-28, 2013

Cottonwood, Arizona
Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Keynote speaker will be
David Mizejewski

We are proud to bring David to the Verde River Valley for this special occasion. Join us for an evening of entertainment, delicious desserts and the opportunity to learn how you can make your backyard space a place to relax and enjoy the birds. David Mizejewski is a lifelong naturalist, animal lover and self-professed “nature geek.” As National Wildlife Federation’s Media Spokesperson and Naturalist, Dave focuses on teaching the American public how to help wildlife and connect with nature in their own backyard. He was host and co-producer of the Animal Planet’s TV series “Backyard Habitat”, and has made appearances on gardening TV and radio shows including NBC’s “The Today Show” and the “Martha Stewart Show”.

Dave is author of Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife and NWF’s Wildlife and Weather newsletter. He uses his knowledge and enthusiasm to get people excited about protecting wildlife and connecting with nature.

See ya at the sea………..or one of the festivals!

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Yuma & Imperial Counties - Raptors & Mergansers
Filed under: California, Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 12:55 pm

Al, Brock, Dave, and I did a raptor count south of Yuma on Saturday the 12th. It was pretty chilly for Yuma, but the birds didn’t seem to mind!  We covered some fields east of San Luis, the fields sw of County 19th Street & Ave B, and many of the fields se of County 19th Street & Ave 2E.

Ferruginous Hawk, south of Yuma, AZ, 12 Jan 2013

The Northern Harrier numbers have increased dramatically since our two previous counts.  We were also happy to see 3 dark-phase Ferruginous Hawks, which tied the number from 28 Dec 2012.

During 3.5 hours we identified the following:
Red-tailed Hawk: 96
Ferruginous Hawk:  58
American Kestrel: 11
Northern Harrier: 46
Peregrine Falcon: 2

Then, on Sunday the 13th, Ed Kandl and I stopped over at Cocopah RV Park and counted a flock of 22 Hooded Mergansers.  Some of the males put on a great show, rising partially out of the water, making a fast “clattering” call, and fully displaying their crests, competing with each other for the attentions of the many females in their midst.

Other birds in the pond with the mergansers were:  1 Canvasback, 2 Blue-winged Teal, 6 Ring-necked Ducks, American Coots, and Pied-billed Grebes.

We drove on to the Imperial Valley after that.  Our main focus was the new geothermal bubbling mud pots south of Mullet Island, but we also scored with four species of falcons, including this fine Merlin.

Good birding!

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New Year’s in Yuma County
Filed under: General, Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 9:53 pm

Greetings Birders,

Meandered about Yuma County from sunup to sundown on New Year’s Day, and wound up with 95 species.  The complete list is below.

Yuma County Sunrise, 1 Jan 2013

Started off with a gorgeous sunrise at the Yuma West Wetlands. The usuals were all present, and a Common Merganser flying along the river was a treat.

At Cocopah RV Resort 22 Hooded Mergansers swimming in one of the golf course ponds was a sight to see.  A Herring Gull at the sewage treatment pond was the first “rare” bird of the year.

Hooded Merganser, 1 Jan 2013

South of Co 19th Street I put in 1.5 hours counting raptors, and saw the following:
- Red-tailed Hawk: 51
- Ferruginous Hawk:  37
- American Kestrel: 6
- Northern Harrier: 13
In addition, I re-located 4 Mountain Plover in the same field as Al and I saw on Saturday.

Mountain Plover, 1 Jan 2013

The Wellton area was quiet in the “heat” of the day except for the sleeping Barn Owl at Green Acres RV Resort.

In the cottonwood stand at Quigley was a male Red-naped Sapsucker, and a couple miles east of there a single Le Conte’s Thasher popped up when I called to him. 

8 Sandhill Cranes were on Co 2nd Street close to 50th Ave, and a mile beyond that I had a Swamp Sparrow at Growler Pond.  This was an especially nice surprise, since the pond is drying out and the only ducks were Green-winged Teal.

The final new birds for the year were at Coyote Wash, across the interstate from Wellton.  The White-fronted Goose found by Paul Lehman several years ago continues in the company of domestic brethren, a Canada Goose, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeons, Gadwalls, and hordes of coots.

Happy New Year & Good birding!

Yuma County - Jan 1, 2013
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Double-crested Cormorant
3 Great Blue Heron
4 Great Egret
5 Snowy Egret
6 Cattle Egret
7 Green Heron
8 Black-crowned Night Heron
9 Sandhill Crane
10 Greater White-fronted Goose
11 Canada Goose
12 Gadwall
13 American Wigeon
14 Blue-winged Teal
15 Cinnamon Teal
16 Northern Shoveler
17 Green-winged Teal
18 Ring-necked Duck
19 Common Merganser
20 Ruddy Duck
21 Osprey
22 Northern Harrier
23 Cooper’s Hawk
24 Red-tailed Hawk
25 Ferruginous Hawk
26 American Kestrel
27 Merlin
28 Gambel’s Quail
29 Sora
30 Common Moorhen
31 American Coot
32 Killdeer
33 Mountain Plover
34 Black-necked Stilt
35 Greater Yellowlegs
36 Spotted Sandpiper
37 Long-billed Curlew
38 Least Sandpiper
39 Long-billed Dowitcher
40 Turkey Vulture
41 Ring-billed Gull
42 Herring Gull
43 Rock Pigeon
44 Mourning Dove
45 Inca Dove
46 Eurasian Collared Dove
47 Greater Roadrunner
48 Barn Owl
49 White-throated Swift
50 Anna’s Hummingbird
51 Costa’s Hummingbird
52 Belted Kingfisher
53 Gila Woodpecker
54 Red-naped Sapsucker
55 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
56 Northern Flicker
57 Black Phoebe
58 Say’s Phoebe
59 Vermilion Flycatcher
60 Loggerhead Shrike
61 Common Raven
62 Horned Lark
63 Tree Swallow
64 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
65 Verdin
66 Cactus Wren
67 House Wren
68 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
69 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
70 American Robin
71 Northern Mockingbird
72 Crissal Thrasher
73 Leconte’s Thrasher
74 European Starling
75 American Pipit
76 Cedar Waxwing
77 Phainopepla
78 Orange-crowned Warbler
79 Yellow-rumped Warbler
80 Common Yellowthroat
81 Abert’s Towhee
82 Chipping Sparrow
83 Vesper Sparrow
84 Savannah Sparrow
85 Song Sparrow
86 Lincoln’s Sparrow
87 Swamp Sparrow
88 White-crowned Sparrow
89 Red-winged Blackbird
90 Western Meadowlark
91 Brewer’s Blackbird
92 Great-tailed Grackle
93 Brown-headed Cowbird
94 House Finch
95 Lesser Goldfinch

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Wellton & West Wetlands Birding
Filed under: General, Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 8:21 am

Greetings Birders!

Al and I spent Saturday morning, Dec 22nd, birding the Gila Valley around Wellton, AZ.  It was beautiful weather and the birds were out in force.

Some of our more interesting birds were:
Merlin (Yuma)
Prairie Falcon (west of Wellton)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (west of Wellton)
Barn Owl (Green Acres RV Park, Wellton)
Ruddy Ground-Dove (Green Acres RV Park, Wellton)
Winter Wren (3.2 miles west of Wellton - found by Paul Lehman earlier this month)

Sharp-shinned Hawk, west of Wellton, 22 Dec 2012

If Inca Doves were a bit scarce in 2011, they’ve sure rebounded this year.  The Animal Farm was sporting a good fifty of them.  It was neat to see the Barn Owl staring down at us from the palm tree at Green Acres RV Park.

Barn Owl, Green Acres RV Park, 22 Dec 2012

Numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers were also extremely high in many of the spots around the valley.

This morning (Christmas Eve) Al, Helga, and I spent a couple of hours at the Yuma West Wetlands and had the usual suspects (Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Verdins, 3 Crissal Thrashers, etc.).  Additionally we spotted a single Cedar Waxwing and the large wintering flock of American Robins.

Crissal Thrasher, West Wetlands, Yuma, 24 Dec 2012

Directions to Yuma and Imperial County birding sites are at:

Merry Christmas & Good Birding!

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Mittry Lake Christmas Bird Count
Filed under: California, Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 5:50 pm

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, Dec 15, 2012, was a wet and chilly day, with scattered sunshine in the morning and winds in the afternoon. Not at all what we’re used to for our Christmas bird count!

Imperial NWR Sunrise, 15 Dec 12

This count was centered on Imperial Dam, and covered territory in both Yuma County, AZ and Imperial County, CA. Our most notable find was a Thick-billed Kingbird in the Pratt Restoration Area, at Betty’s Kitchen. This bird was found in late October by L.D. Smith, and had been seen only once since then.

Thick-billed Kingbird, Betty’s Kitchen, 15 Dec 12

We had a total of 117 species, with the following nice finds:
- Brown Pelican (CA)
- Barrow’s Goldeneye (2) (Senator Wash)
- White-tailed Kite (AZ)
- Bald Eagle (1 immature with a blue leg band from the Verde/Salt River northeast of Phoenix) (Imperial NWR)
- Black Rail (AZ)
- Herring Gull (2) (CA)
- Ash-throated Flycatcher (11)
- Thick-billed Kingbird (Betty’s Kitchen)
- Eastern Phoebe (Imperial NWR)
- Cassin’s Vireo (Betty’s Kitchen)
- Barn Swallow (3) (Imperial NWR)

Imperial NWR Sunrise, 15 Dec 12

Once the total results are tallied, I’ll post a link to the Audubon site.

Good birding!


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Yuma Christmas Bird Count
Filed under: California, Arizona
Posted by: Bob @ 4:55 pm

Hi all,

Henry will be putting up more details about birds seen and his pictures from the event as soon as he gets a chance. I am posting here a few of the pictures I had from my part of the day….while I have a chance!

The Yuma Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday December 15. Yuma birder Arlene Dancer was waiting for me before sunrise at West Pond on McKinley Road off of Senator Wash Road. We walked that area in a heavy drizzle till sunrise hoping for Black Rail which we did not hear. We did have Clapper and Virginia Rail and Sora though. We then moved her vehicle to Phil Swing Park at Imperial Dam where we had a bright male Vermilion Flycatcher.

Next stop was the All American Canal Desilting Ponds which were loaded with waterfowl.

All American Canal Desilting Ponds
All American Canal Desilting Ponds

We then made our way over the small pass by Senator Mine and came out at the foot of Senator Wash Dam. We were fortunate to find two BARROW’S GOLDENEYE on Senator Wash Reservoir. I have seen them more often at this one location on the reservoir over the years than any other spot. It seems they prefer a little less open water and were in the small cove near the outlet station part way across the dam.

Barrow's Goldeneye
Barrow’s Goldeye

Three Burros were on the hillside at the end of the dam as the road drops down to Squaw Lake.


This male Great-tailed Grackle posed as a hood ornament on my Jeep before posing on this picnic table at Squaw Lake.

Great-tailed Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle

Time flies when you are having fun so we beat it back to Phil Swing Park to meet the rest of the birders for lunch at noon. Tales of rarities and the lack of some expected common species, seeing old friends again. Great stuff! Arlene and I then headed out again to bird the desert north of Senator Wash.

Senator Wash Reservoir
Senator Wash Reservoir

After running the desert washes where we found Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Verdin, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Gambel’s Quail we drove on up to Ferguson Lake so Arlene could see it for the first time. It is a truly great view from the top of the hill over the slot canyon in Ferguson Wash.

Ferguson Lake, Colorado River and Martinez Lake, Castle Dome and Kofa Mountains in distance.

Picacho Peak stood prominently to the west of us. I had two friends join me for a desert campout and a three mile hike around the base of it on Wednesday December 19th.

Picacho Peak
Picacho Peak

That was after the Salton Sea Christmas Bird Count on the 18th and before our little 4.5 mile hike through the Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area on the 20th so it has been a busy week and I have lots of stuff to post….. as soon as I get another chance!

See ya at the sea………………..

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Yuma & Imperial Counties
Filed under: General, California, Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 6:09 pm

Greetings Birders!

Al, Lowell, and I spent Saturday, Dec 8th, birding around Yuma, AZ and Bard, CA, tallying 94 species by the time we quit at 4:00 p.m.  No rarities, but a fine day of birding!

We started out at the Yuma West Wetlands, getting the typical hummingbirds (Anna’s & Costa’s), woodpeckers (Gila, Ladder-backed, & Northern Flicker), phoebes, and Crissal Thrasher.  At Cocopah RV Park we were happy to note the return of the wintering Hooded Mergansers (11), a Caspian Tern, herds of Long-billed Curlews, and a couple of Vermilion Flycatchers.

Black Phoebe, Yuma West Wetlands, 8 Dec 12

At Morales Dam we had a fair number of shorebirds and an American White Pelican.

The winter season south of Yuma must be a terrifying time for gophers.  All during the summer they colonize the huge circular alfalfa fields south of County 9th Street and eat with abandon.  But come November dozens of Ferruginous and Red-tailed Hawks fly down for the winter and feast on gopher meat.  On Saturday morning we counted 37 beautiful Ferruginous Hawks (including 2 dark-phase individuals) and 32 Red-tailed Hawks.  And we had two Prairie Falcons to boot!

Ferruginous Hawks, South of Yuma, 8 Dec 2012

Watching a Loggerhead Shrike chase down a beetle south of town was also pretty darn interesting.  The beetle outmanuevered the shrike for the first two passes, but the bird perservered and then caught it–in its claws.

In Imperial County we first visited the Living Waters Ministry, where all was pretty quiest save for a couple of House Wrens and an adult Red-shouldered Hawk.  On Flood Road, about a mile away, we had a pair of adult Red-shouldered Hawks and a Black-throated Gray Warbler.

Senator Wash had good numbers of Eared and Western Grebes, Common Goldeneyes, and two Common Loons.  The Barrow’s was nowhere to be found.  The desilting ponds south of Imperial Dam had two Greater Scaup and two more American White Pelicans.

Directions to Yuma and Imperial County birding sites are at:

Ferruginous Hawk, South of Yuma, 8 Dec 2012

Good birding!

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