Birding Site: South of Yuma


  • Mostly agricultural (crop fields & citrus orchards)
  • Drains and canals
  • Desert and mesquite scrublands
  • Farms and residential yards (north of County 19th Street)
Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

General Description

South of Yuma are a variety of agricultural areas ranging from citrus orchards to alfalfa fields.  Especially good in the winter months, the area plays host to Prairie Falcon, Ferruginous Hawk, Mountain Plover, Abert's & Green-tailed Towhees, other sparrows, and Lesser & Lawrence's Goldfinches.  The desert south of these fields is pretty sparse, but has yielded LeConte's Thrasher.  This area is known as the "Yuma Mesa". This desert is beautiful after a wet winter, rich with Ajo Lilly, Birdcage Primrose, and Sand Verbena. If you drive southwest of Yuma, you'll drop down into the Colorado River floodplain.  Birds here are similar, with the addition of Ring-necked Pheasant in the wheat fields and a number of riparian birds along the river. 

Target Birds

  • Ferruginous Hawk
  • Prairie Falcon
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Ring-necked Pheasant
  • Mountain Plover
  • Long-billed Curlew
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • American Pipit
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Abert's Towhee
  • Savannah Sparrow

South of Yuma

map: south of Yuma
(click for aerial view)

Birding Locations


Orchards and Alfalfa Fields
Citrus Orchards, such as the ones here, and especially those with weedy undergrowth, can be good for a number of birds. Accipiters, hawks, woodpeckers, finches, and sparrows are just some of the expected avian delights.  Abert’s (resident) and Green-tailed Towhee (winter) are two species to look for.  The agricultural fields north of County 19th Street are slowly giving way to housing.  But there are still many to be found; these are planted with a variety of crops as the seasons progress.  In the past, we have found Prairie Falcon, Ferruginous Hawk, Mountain Plover, curlews, Whimbrel, meadowlarks, and a variety of sparrows in appropriate habitat.


Circular Alfalfa & Hay Fields
South of County 19th Street, stretching almost all the way to the Mexican border, are dozens of large (1/2 mile in diameter) circular crop fields. In winter, some of these play host to Prairie Falcon, Ferruginous Hawk, Mountain Plover, Long-billed Curlews, Mountain Bluebird (irruptive species), American Pipit, Horned Lark, and Savannah Sparrow.  There is some fine habitat for longspurs, but so far these have proved elusive.  There are always fallow fields—sometimes even outnumbering the planted fields; if they’ve been fallow too long the birds move on to more productive areas.  Look for birds to perch on top of the sprinklers as well as in the fields themselves.  In 2005 we found dozens of Mountain Plover at Site #2, and that spring a Crested Caracara even flew by.  In December 2007 a Golden Eagle was feeding on gophers and jackrabbits here. 
The determining factor in figuring out where the birds are is the food source. The raptors like to feed on the numerous gophers while smaller birds usually like the bugs or seeds available in the fields.  If you see water misting (or streaming) down from the big revolving sprinklers, head over to that field and see what birds have come to feed on the resulting insect smorgasbord.


Crop Circles
The area around here usually has at least one actively planted field. This seems to be one of the better areas for Western Meadowlark. Savannah Sparrows, and Common Ravens. 


Crop Circles & Cattle Feeding
In 2005 and 2006 there were a lot of cattle and the odd herd of sheep in this area.  Livestock means more bugs, and more bugs mean more birds.  So don’t ignore them!   In a field just north of here, a Golden Eagle showed up one morning in January 2006.


Crop Circles
In 2007 there were several freshly watered crop circles here, including a freshly planted and water field that held Mountain Plover, pipits, and Horned Larks.  Mountain Plover can be found in dry grassy fields (similar to their breeding grounds) as well as freshly watered fields--they go where the food is.


East of San Luis
In 2007 we checked this area just east of San Luis and were happily surprised to find dozens of Ferruginous Hawks, Red-tails, and flocks of Long-billed Curlews.  November of 2007 found a Golden Eagle here, too. Be sure to check this area, especially if you don’t have much luck south of Yuma.


In between the crop circles and south of them you’ll see the original desert with scattered creosote, mesquite, sagebrush, and the occasional cactus.  Birds are generally sparse and spread thin, but possible here are Burrowing Owls, Loggerhead Shrike, Verdin, LeConte's Thrasher, Phainopepla, and both Sage and Brewer's Sparrow (winter).  You might also locate Sage Thrashers here in winter or migration.  After a wet winter the wildflower displays can be absolutely spectacular – see some of the photos at

Driving Directions

Getting south of town from the intersection of I-8 and 16th Street takes less than 10 minutes:

  • Drive west on 16th Street (Highway 95) 2 miles to Ave B.
  • Turn left on Avenue B and drive south for about 3 miles until you're south of the city and start getting into the citrus and agricultural fields.

Site Notes

  • Ownership: Farm fields are private, but easily viewed from county and farm roads
  • Vehicle Access: A high-clearance 2-wheel drive is usually sufficient to travel the dirt and sandy roads; a car is fine for the gravel and paved roads
  • Fees: None
  • Restrooms: Yuma, Somerton, and San Luis
  • Food: Same as above
  • Gas: Same as above

Site Bird List


Ferruginous Hawk (w)
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Harrier (w)
Prairie Falcon (w)
Cooper's Hawk (w)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (w)
Long-billed Curlew (w)
Gambel's Quail
Greater Roadrunner
western swallows
Western Kingbird (s)
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Wood Pewee (m)
Western warblers (m)
Lazuli Bunting (m)
Blue Grosbeak (s)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (w)
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
American Pipit (w)
Lesser Goldfinch (w)
Lawrence's Goldfinch (w)
White-crowned Sparrow (w)
Lark Sparrow (w)
Brewer's Sparrow (w)
Vesper Sparrow (w)
Song Sparrow (w)
Lincoln's Sparrow (w)


Merlin (w)
Peregrine Falcon
Mountain Plover
Western Bluebird (w, irruptive)
Mountain Bluebird (w, irruptive)
Sage Thrasher (w)


Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl


Crested Caracara
Golden Eagle
Lawrence's Goldfinch (irruptive)




Trip Reports/Links


About Us | Site Map | Advertising | Contact Us | ©2013 Southwest Birders