Black-throated Blue Warbler


Picacho State Park
Dec 24, 2003 
Bob Miller
(with comments by Henry Detwiler)

A trip to the Colorado River in search of the continuing Black-throated Blue Warbler, first found by Todd Easterla on Dec 14! 

species (list follows at end of page)

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

I arrived well before day light.  Not sure if it made the nasty little road better or worse!  It is 19 miles of pure torture but the bird at the end of it was worth every bump. (It's wasn't bad at all in my Pathfinder, and only 35 minutes!)  From Interstate 8, go north (away from Yuma) at the Fourth Street exit.  Turn right at the stop sign and follow the signs for Picacho State Park.
The pavement will end, you will make a sharp, narrow turn to cross over the All American Canal and then it will be 19 miles of severe washboard.  Give yourself an hour for this portion if you like your vehicle!  When you come to the kiosk at the SP, pay the $2 at self-registration, correct change helps.  Then continue three tenths of a mile and you will come to a T.  Go to the right and then immediately go left at the large Tamarisk Trees.  There is a little lane that goes back about 100 feet and ends at a barbed wire fence corner.  Park near the road and walk back to the fence.  There will be a large Mesquite thicket on your right.  There is a thick, dark, upright trunk inside the thicket, on the side nearest the fence.  The Black-throated Blue Warbler will come to that limb repeatedly!!  At first daylight he was in a Palo Verde on the other side of the fence but when the sun gets on the Mesquite, he spends his time between it and the large Tamarisk.

I was not sure I was in the right spot at first. I saw an adult Bald Eagle fly over the river and three minutes later the Marines flew by.  The chopper had just past and I was standing there wondering if it was our partner Jeff when I suddenly realized that I was hearing the call notes I had read in my field guide not ten minutes before.  Sure enough there he was, Black-throated Blue Warbler perched in the sunlight!!  What a memorable lifer for sure!

The right spot! 

Picacho State Park 

The Tamarisk trees were very busy and there were Red-naped Sapsuckers, Ladder-backed and Gila Woodpeckers in and out.  Black-tailed Gnatcatchers were showy too!  Went exploring the rest of the park and it has really changed in the twenty years since I used to spend a lot of time there.

Colorado River

Yuma River Boat Tours

The river is very low this time of year.  Captain Ron Knowlton of Yuma River Boat Tours came by as I was on the docks. A lone Herring Gull was a surprise and quite unusual for the river.  As I was snapping his pick the adult Bald Eagle came along and landed in a lagoon on the other side.  

Herring Gull & Bald Eagle 

Herring Gull

The eagle is the white speck just below the mountain ridge on the right and the Herring Gull is on the sandbar. Wish I had more time to spend there as the habitat is awesome and the birds were just everywhere.  Could not find the Northern Parulas. (They are hanging out in the northeast corner of the eastern-most grove of cottonwoods--last seen on Dec 28th.)  

On my way back to the Imperial Valley I stopped at the old Brock Research Station.  The lack of birds there was amazing till I got down to the east end where there had been some water and the weeds were thicker.  A Spotted Towhee, Lesser Goldfinch and some of the few Juncos I have seen this year. 

Dainty Sulphur 


The Dainty Sulphur above is the smallest Sulphur and there were two here.  
Several Monarch butterflies were working one of the Eucalyptus Trees. (Also lots of Queens and Painted Ladies there when I last visited on 21 Dec.)


Sunset at home
I watched this beautiful sunset develop as I birded my way across the ag fields on the eastern side of the valley.  Nice way to end the day........ begin the evening!! Lea Anne and I attended a Christmas Eve party in Brawley :-)
Imperial County  Dec 24, 2003
  1. Great Blue Heron

  2. Cattle Egret

  3. White-faced Ibis

  4. Turkey Vulture

  5. Common Goldeneye

  6. Bald Eagle

  7. Northern Harrier

  8. Cooper's Hawk

  9. Red-tailed Hawk

  10. American Kestrel

  11. Gambel's Quail

  12. Common Moorhen

  13. Long-billed Curlew

  14. Ring-billed Gull

  15. Herring Gull

  16. Rock Pigeon

  17. Mourning Dove

  18. Common Ground-Dove

  19. Burrowing Owl

  20. Anna's Hummingbird

  21. Belted Kingfisher

  22. Gila Woodpecker

  23. Red-naped Sapsucker

  1. Ladder-backed Woodpecker

  2. Black Phoebe

  3. Say's Phoebe

  4. Ash-throated Flycatcher

  5. Verdin

  6. Cactus Wren

  7. Ruby-crowned Kinglet

  8. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

  9. American Robin

  10. European Starling

  11. Phainopepla

  12. Orange-crowned Warbler

  13. Black-throated Blue Warbler

  14. Yellow-rumped Warbler

  15. Spotted Towhee

  16. Abert's Towhee

  17. Savannah Sparrow

  18. White-crowned Sparrow

  19. Dark-eyed Junco

  20. Red-winged Blackbird

  21. Western Meadowlark

  22. Great-tailed Grackle

  23. House Finch

  24. House Sparrow

Photos Bob Miller