Betty's Kitchen Area

Great Horned Owl - Betty's Kitchen



Betty's Kitchen (#2 on the map below), Mittry Lake, and the surrounding area offer a wealth of bird-finding opportunities.  Waterfowl, raptors, and passerines are all to be found.  The annual December Christmas Bird Count nets between 110 and 130 species. Betty's Kitchen was at one time a cafe that served a small community just north of the Laguna Dam, but was completely flooded out in 1985.  Since that time, BLM has constructed a parking area, restrooms, a fishing pier, picnic facilities, and a 1/2-mile interpretive trail that winds through riparian and desert scrub habitats.  

Western Tanager


Site #5 on the  Yuma County Map

Getting there from the intersection of I-8 and 16th Street takes about 30 minutes:

- Drive east on 16th Street (Highway 95) 5.1 miles to Ave 7E (Circle K and Chevron stations). 
- Turn left on Ave 7E and drive north until the asphalt turns into gravel, 13.3 miles. 
- Go another .4 miles and turn left onto a gravel road which crosses over a finger of  Mittry Lake (look for the sign for Betty's Kitchen Wildlife and Interpretive Area, which is currently there-Dec 203)
- Go about .2 miles and turn left into the parking lot.  There are picnic tables and restrooms available.

There is a $5.00 fee to visit this site, or you can buy a $50 annual pass from the BLM office in Yuma (2555 E. Gila Ridge Rd), which is also good at other BLM sites in the area.

(Numbered spots correspond with the map on the right.)

1) This is the eastern edge of Laguna Dam--the first dam on the Colorado River, it was built in 1907 to control flooding.  A mixture of riparian and upland Sonora plants supports orioles, kingbirds, gnatcatchers, Verdins, sparrows, and warblers.  Look at the historical bridge with Swastikas (on the sides) which crosses a canal from the time the Laguna Dam was built in 1907.  The Swastikas were originally Indian good luck icons, but during WWII the Bureau of Reclamation had to post a guard to keep the locals from tearing the bridge down.

2) Betty's Kitchen--the loop trail passes through several habitats.  Palm trees, mesquites, cottonwoods, willows, quailbush, and reeds shelter Great Horned Owls, Crissal Thrasher, Abert's Towhee, Verdins, hummingbirds, gnatcatchers, Ash-throated Flycatchers, and warblers.  Migration is even better, with all the western warblers and numerous other passerines passing through.  Winter brings more sparrows, and the occasional rarity (see list below). The half-mile loop trail is level, and can be done at a leisurely pace in 30 minutes.

3) Cottonwood/Willow Nursery--this nursery is often flooded, and yields Spotted, Green-tailed, and Abert's Towhees in the winter, as well as Lincoln's, Song, Savannah, and Fox Sparrows.  An Eastern Phoebe spent some time here several winters ago.

4) Cottonwood Grove--this mature grove is reached by walking along the agricultural fields beyond the locked gate (foot travel welcome).  Bullock's Orioles breed in the cottonwoods, and many migrants rest & feed here.  The fields will have a variety of sparrows, Water Pipits, White-tailed Kites, Northern Harriers, and Western Meadowlarks depending on the season. 

5) Laguna Mountains--although not very birdy, you can usually find Rock Wrens and Black-throated Sparrows, which are permanent residents. 

Betty's Kitchen Area

(Click on the map for aerial photo)

Red numbers correspond to 
the birding suggestions on the left
Blue areas are water (canals, rivers, ponds, marshes, etc.)
Green dots are trees

Some of the POSSIBLE Sightings
- unusual birds highlighted in dark red
- (w) indicates wintering bird
(b) indicates breeding bird


-Hermit, Black-throated Gray, Lucy's, MacGillivray's, Townsend's, Virginia's, Yellow-rumped (w), Wilson's, Nashville, Orange-crowned (w), and Yellow
-Common Yellowthroat (b,w)
-Yellow-breasted Chat (b)
American Redstart

-Western Kingbird (b)
-Ash-throated Flycatcher (b,w)
-Western Wood Pewee
Willow Flycatcher  
Olive-sided Flycatcher
-Eastern Phoebe

Other Migrants
- Northern Harrier (w)
- Prairie Falcon (rare w)
- Merlin (rare w)
- Cooper's & Sharp-shinned Hawks (w)
- Red-naped Sapsucker (uncommon)
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (rare)
- Brown-crested Flycatcher (rare)
- Swainson's & Hermit thrushes
- Townsend's Solitaire (rare)
- Bullock's Oriole (b)
- western swallows (b,w)
- Lazuli Bunting
- Blue Grosbeak (b)
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (w) 
- Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (b,w) 
- Lesser Goldfinch (w)
- Bullock's Oriole (b)
- Hooded Oriole (b)
- White-crowned Sparrow (w)
- Lincoln's Sparrow (w)

Some of the year-round breeding Residents:

- Pied-billed Grebe
- Common Moorhen 
- American Coot
- Turkey Vulture
- Barn Owl
- Great Horned Owl

- Western Screech Owl
- Red-tailed Hawk
- American Kestrel
- Osprey
- Spotted Sandpiper
- Greater Roadrunner
- Turkey Vulture
- Gambel's Quail
- Ladder-backed Woodpecker
- Gila Woodpecker
- Loggerhead Shrike
- Black Phoebe 
- Great-tailed Grackle
- Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
- Verdin
- Song Sparrow

(Web Pages)

These pages give you some idea of the birds that you can find in this location during the different seasons.
Birding Trips


Ladder-backed Woodpecker at Betty's Kitchen

Warbling Vireo at Mittry Lake


Photos Henry D. Detwiler
Last Update: 24 Dec 2003