Dateland Shrimp Ponds


Wilson's Phalaropes



In the summer of 2003 Willie and I were exploring one of  Patton's old training camps in the nearby desert.  Looking south, I saw what looked like water.  Hoping it wasn't a mirage, we headed in that direction and found a mecca for birds and dragonflies. So far we've recorded over 120 birds there!

Beginning in late spring (in 2005 it was May), Tark Rush fills up and stocks these ten large, multi-acre ponds with shrimp fry.  As the shrimp mature all manner of birds (see lists below) descend upon the ponds to feast, until Tark harvests the shrimp in October and the ponds dry out.  (In 2004 there were still a few puddles with ducks & shorebirds on Nov 5th.)  Winter is slow at the dried-out ponds, with Horned Larks and the occasional Savannah Sparrow.

Use care when driving around the ponds; the dikes are narrow and powdery dirt, and parts may be eroded.  If you see the feeding hopper, give it a wide berth, and please don't block any of the dike roads.  You can always park south of the drainage canal, or along Ave 64E, and walk in.  If you are planning a visit, you might wish to call Tark as a courtesy to find out the status of visiting these private ponds: 928-246-1877

If you come in mid to late summer, keep in mind that you're in the heart of the desert, where afternoon temps often exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fortunately, water, food, and gas are available at Dateland, immediately south of the I-8 exit.  And in the date palm grove immediately south of Dateland, you may find a Barn Owl and an assortment of flycatchers, warblers, and sparrows at the appropriate times of year.  

Western and Baird's Sandpipers

Great Egret eating a shrimp

Click on any of the thumbnail
 pictures to see full-sized photos. 

(Click on map for aerial photo)


Site #16 on Yuma Area Overview Map

- From I-8, exit north on Ave 64E (Exit #67)
- Drive north approximately 5.7 miles, over the Gila River Bridge (the river is usually dry as a bone, but 2005 saw it flowing), until you see a low berm on your left (west side of the road)
- Park and walk up onto the dike--you're there! 
- The ten ponds extend a mile out to the west.
- On the south side of Exit 67 is a gas station and the Dateland Store, home to date & cactus shakes, burgers, souvenirs, and rest rooms.


Black-necked Stilts 
(adults above & baby below)
A most numerous shorebird!

Reddish Egret

Black-crowned Night Heron

Semipalmated Plover

Sabine's Gull


During the late spring and summer, migrants are drawn to this oasis in the desert (and not just waders & shorebirds).  A sampling of the unusual birds that have appeared over the past few years include:

- Reddish Egret
- Common Tern
- Least Tern
- Sabine's Gull (up to 4 at once in late summer 2004)
- Sanderling
- Ruff
- Red Phalarope
- Short-billed Dowitcher
- Semipalmated Sandpiper
- Purple Martin
- Grasshopper Sparrow

Regularly occurring migrants include:

- 4 species of grebes
- White-fronted Goose
- Bonaparte's, California, Herring, & Ring-billed Gulls
- Black, Forster's, & Caspian Terns
- just about every shorebird known to Arizona
- Peregrine Falcon
- 5 species of swallows

Many of the permanent residents in the area come to the ponds to drink & eat--some of these are:

- Greater Roadrunner
- Gambel's Quail
- White-winged Dove
- Verdin
- Loggerhead Shrike
- Abert's Towhee
- Horned Lark

This is a record of species that have been seen at the ponds since the summer of 2003.  If you've spotted additional birds, send me an e-mail with a sighting date, and I'll add it to the list.

Here are links to three additional web pages with shrimp pond photos.

Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Reddish Egret
Cattle Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
White-faced Ibis
Greater White-fronted Goose
American Wigeon
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Gambel's Quail
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Snowy Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
Wilson's Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope
Red Phalarope
Turkey Vulture
Franklin's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Sabine's Gull
Caspian Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Least Tern
Black Tern
Rock Pigeon
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Greater Roadrunner
Lesser Nighthawk
Vaux's Swift
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Warbling Vireo
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Rock Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Mountain Bluebird
Northern Mockingbird
Curve-billed Thrasher
American Pipit
Macgillivray's Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Western Tanager
Green-tailed Towhee
Abert's Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Blue Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Lawrence's Goldfinch


Looking for the Ruff
24 Sep 2004

The Ruff in flight
24 Sep 2004

American Avocets wheeling


Photos Henry D. Detwiler
Last Update: 26 May 2005