SOUTHWEST BIRDERS

YUMA AREA BIRDING GUIDE
Tacna Area


LeConte's Thrasher

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LeConte's Thrasher

Description

This area has a combination of wetlands (Quigley Pond & the Gila River), agricultural fields with weedy edges, and desert habitat. This area is especially interesting to visit in the winter & early spring, when you can find Prairie Falcons, Ferruginous Hawks, Northern Harriers, LeConte's Thrashers, and a variety of sparrows (White-crowned, Vesper, Savannah, Brewer's, Sage, Lincoln's, Song, and Lark).  Migration brings passerines and shorebirds, including Whimbrel and Long-billed Curlew.  Occasional Tundra Swans and White-fronted Geese use Quigley Pond and the managed wetlands.  Other waterfowl are easy to see before and after hunting season.  The Gila River is attractive all year round, and provides great habitat for White-faced Ibis, herons, egret, Cinnamon Teal, Vermilion Flycatcher, and Blue Grosbeak. And be sure to check through any little doves for Ruddy Ground-Doves, which winter in the area.

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

1)  Quigley Pond
     
An oxbow of the Gila River, this large marshy lake is best viewed by driving north on Ave 40E for about a mile, and turning left onto a sandy road (before Ave 40E drops off the bluff into the Gila River Valley). Drive west about 1/2 mile on this sandy road, park, and walk to the edge of the bluff.  From here you may see raptors, waterfowl, cormorants, and swallows.  Depending on the time of year, grebes, moorhens, and rails call spontaneously, or respond to tapes.  
   
2)  AZ Game & Fish fields (Quigley Wildlife Management Area)
      These fields can be viewed from the bluff overlooking Quigley Pond (with a scope) or by walking in from the north (up to the No-Trespassing sign).  In past winters Tundra Swans have made regular but brief visits; geese and waterfowl are more common.  Northern Harriers and other raptors patrol the fields.  2 White-tailed Kites were here in the winter of 2005-2006. Shorebirds are regular but hard to see from the bluff. A large stand of cottonwoods and willows is along the access road (just north of the farm fields).  Check this for abundant migrants in the late summer and early fall, and for rarities like Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Dec 05).
 
3)  Gila River
      The shallow waters of the Gila River is regularly visited by White-faced Ibis, egrets, herons, shorebirds, and waterfowl. A heron rookery is about .5 miles south of the "ford" on private property.  In migration, look for warblers, vireos, and flycatchers in the willows & cottonwoods.  Drive the Gila  levee to see more habitat and species.  
    

4)  Agricultural Fields
     For several winters a Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon have called this area home.  These fields are often planted with alfalfa, and have lots of weedy edges attractive to Vesper, White-crowned, Brewer's, and Savannah Sparrows.  Water Pipits and Western Meadowlarks are also common.

5)  Saltbrush Flats - Desert
    
During February & March this can be a relatively easy place to see singing LeConte's Thrashers.  From Hwy 80, turn left (n.) onto Ave 45E.  Go about 1/4 mile past the farm complex and turn right on an inconspicuous dirt/gravel road.  This road had large saltbrush flats that were good for the thrashers up until 2005, when it was burned.  Until they grow back, you'll need to drive to the end of this road and bird the desert to the east, where the thrashers perch in the mesquites to sing.  This is private land, but barren, and as of 2001, we've been given verbal permission to look around.

Tacna Area Map
Click here for Overview Map
 

     

   
   

Red numbers correspond to  the birding suggestions on the left
Blue lines are canals, blue grassy spots are marshy areas
R
est rooms available at the Texaco in Tacna (Ave 40E and Hwy 80)

      

Driving Directions to Tacna

Site #10 on the  Yuma County Map

Getting here from the intersection of  1st Street and 4th Ave takes about 45 minutes:

- Drive north on 4th Ave .2 miles and get onto I-8 eastbound.
- Drive east 40 miles on I-8 to the Tacna exit (Ave 40E).  
- Drive north on Ave 40E about .25 miles to old Hwy 80 (just north of the rail road tracks).
- Turn right to access the agricultural fields and the thrasher site.  Continue north to access Quigley Pond and the Gila River.

Possible Bird Sightings
- unusual birds highlighted in dark red
- (w) indicates wintering bird
-
(b) indicates breeding bird

Migrants:

Warblers
-Hermit, Black-throated Gray, Lucy's, MacGillivray's, Townsend's, Yellow-rumped (w), Wilson's, Nashville, Orange-crowned (w)
-Common Yellowthroat (b,w)

Flycatchers
-Western Kingbird (b)
-Ash-throated Flycatcher (b,w)
-Willow Flycatcher (mid-May to mid-June)
-Western Wood-Pewee

Other Migrants
- Northern Harrier (w)
- Merlin (uncommon w)
- Cooper's & Sharp-shinned Hawks (w)
- Whimbrel
- Tundra Swan
- Black Tern

- all varieties of shorebirds
- western swallows (b,w)
- Lazuli Bunting
- Blue Grosbeak (b)
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (w) 
- Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (b,w) 
- Lesser Goldfinch (w)
- Leconte's Thrasher (saltbrush)
- Crissal Thrasher
(riparian tangles/edges)
- orioles
- Lincoln's, W-C, Sage, Brewer's, and Vesper Sparrows (w)

Year-round breeding Residents:

- Pied-billed Grebe
- Common Moorhen 
- American Coot
- Virginia Rail & Sora
- herons & egrets
- Turkey Vulture
- Owls: Western-Screech, Barn, & Great-Horned
- Red-tailed Hawk
- American Kestrel
- Spotted Sandpiper
- Greater Roadrunner
- Gambel's Quail
- Woodpeckers: Ladder-backed & Gila
- Loggerhead Shrike
- Say's and Black Phoebes
- Vermilion Flycatcher
- Great-tailed Grackle
- Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
- Verdin
- Song Sparrow

 TRIP REPORTS 
(Web Pages are Linked)

These pages give you some idea of the birds that you can find in this location during the winter and fall.
     
Birding Trips



Green Heron


Brewer's Sparrow

     
Photos Henry D. Detwiler
Last Update: 27 Dec 2005