West Pond and Desilting Ponds

American Wigeon



West Pond has been one of the most reliable locations around Yuma to hear, and occasionally see, Black Rail.  Other rails, bitterns, and waterfowl also use the marshes and open water of West Pond.  The desilting ponds provide a safe refuge for waterfowl throughout the winter season, and one of the most reliable places to see a large number of duck species.

Lesser Scaup


Site #11 on the  Yuma County Map

Getting here from the intersection of  1st Street and 4th Ave takes 30-45 minutes:

- Drive north .8 miles on 4th Ave across the Colorado River Bridge to the turn-off for California Highway S-24 (Pichacho Recreation Area)
- Turn right and go north on S24 (veer left to follow it under the RR bridge)
- Follow S24 as it winds its way through Bard
- After 12 miles you'll be at the Colorado River and then at Laguna Dam, which is across from Betty's Kitchen
- At 17.8 miles you'll be at the turn-off to Senator Wash and West Pond -- turn left
- From this intersection travel west--immediately after crossing the All American Canal turn right to reach West Pond.
- From S-24 it is 1.2 miles to McKinnley Road, which takes you to the north side of West Pond and Imperial Dam.  Turn right here.
- .4 miles down McKinnley Road is a dirt road that turns off to the right and gives great access to the north side of West Pond
- .9 miles down McKinnley Road gets you  to the Desilting Ponds -- park at the gates here
- From CA Hwy S-24 it is 2.5 miles to Senator Wash

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

1) West Pond - This overlook is great for waterfowl, including American Pelicans during some winters.  American Wigeon, Neotropic Cormorant, and Barrow's Goldeneye are some of the birds that have shown up here.

2) West Pond - Black Rails are sometimes heard and infrequently seen in the bulrushes at this corner of the lake.  In April & May, you may have luck at any time of the day, during other months try it very early or at dusk.

3) West Pond - All rails have been heard here - this dirt road cuts off Mckinney Road at .5 miles and dead ends at the lake -- it is often flooded.  Also at the end of this road you may flush both bitterns and waterfowl.

4) Desilting Ponds - Park at the gate and walk in to look over these concrete-lined ponds which are used to remove silt from the water before it enters the All-American Canal.  In the winter there are many species of waterfowl and a few gulls. You can almost always find Osprey here!

5) Phil Swing Park - During migration and sometimes in winter you may find a rarity here.  Gray Flycatcher, the odd sparrow, and a Rufous-backed Robin have all shown up here.

6) Palm grove - check for Barn Owls, Gila Woodpeckers, and Hooded Orioles in the summer

7) See Imperial Dam Page

Imperial Dam, West Pond, & Desilting Ponds

(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.)
- - - shows marshy areas
Green dots are trees
R = rest room (at location #5, Phil Swing Park)

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

Migrants & Wintering Waterfowl:

-American White Pelican
-Double-crested Cormorant
-Ruddy Duck
-American &
Eurasian Wigeon
-Lesser &
Greater Scaup
-Ring-necked Duck
-Common &
Barrow's Goldeneye

Other Migrants
- Northern Harrier (w)
- Merlin (uncommon w)
- Cooper's & Sharp-shinned Hawks (w)
- western swallows (b,w)
- White-throated Swift
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (w) 
- Lesser Goldfinch (w)
- Sage Sparrow (w)
- White-crowned Sparrow (w)

Year-round & breeding Residents:

- Pied-billed Grebe
- Common Moorhen 
- Virginia Rail
- Sora
- Clapper & Black Rail
- Turkey Vulture
- Red-tailed Hawk
- American Kestrel
- Osprey
- Spotted Sandpiper
- Greater Roadrunner
- Gambel's Quail
- Ladder-backed Woodpecker
- Gila Woodpecker
- Loggerhead Shrike
- Crissal Thrasher
- Black Phoebe 
- Vermilion Flycatcher
- 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

Osprey along the Colorado River


Photos Henry D. Detwiler
Last Update: 6 Jan 2003