Male Bullock's Oriole 


Gila River Grove
May 11, 12, 15  -  75-88 degrees
- Henry Detwiler

Suzanne, Jeff Coker, and I spent a couple of hours in the mornings surveying this wonderful cottonwood and willow grove next to the Gila River.
species (list for 11 May follows at end of page)

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

Bird bathing area 

Suzanne at the grove

This young grove of cottonwoods and willows really took off following the Gila River flood of 1993.  It has already hosted numerous migrants and several rarities. Last year Dave Taylor had an Eastern Phoebe, and the week prior to our visit he had a Greater Pewee. Dave has seen breeding Yellow Warblers there for two years running. Our best birds over the 11th, 12th, and 15th of May were Pine Siskin, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and two Willow Flycatchers.

The first thing we noticed on our trips here were the numerous Yellow Warblers; they'd moved in to replace the abundant Wilson's.  Scores of them were hanging from the branches and bathing in the drainage ditch. 

Yellow Warber

Female Bullock's Oriole 

Bullock's Orioles were feeding actively on the cottonwoods, and several times I had beautiful scope views of the brilliant orange males.  Townsend's Warblers were also very common; we also saw quite a few Hermits.     

Female Hermit Warbler


Western Tanager (female)

The showiest birds by far were the Western Tanagers, and over the course of several mornings we saw close to a hundred individual birds.

Western Tanager (male

Yellow Warber

A trail led through the grove, and one side path went down to the drain with nice shallow edges.  Above the beaver dam, dozens of Yellow, Townsend's, Wilson's, and one MacGillivray's Warbler came down to bathe.  Tanagers and Song Sparrows also joined in for good measure.     

The north side of the levee was planted in wheat, and we saw Lazuli Buntings, several Blue Grosbeaks, and hundreds of White-winged & Mourning Doves.  The ditch on the east side of the field provided cover for Cinnamon Teal and a variety of waders.      

Lazuli Bunting in wheat field

This location can be reached from Yuma by driving east on Hwy 95 to Ave 7E.  Turn north on Ave 7E and drive about 1.6 miles to the Gila River.  Drive across the bridge and immediately turn right on the levee road.  Drive east 1.4 miles to the grove.  A trail drops down off the south side of the levee and wanders through the grove.  Birding from the levee is just as good! (See the map and a comprehensive bird list at: Gila River Grove.)

White-faced Ibis

On the way back home on Saturday, along Ave 7E, we spotted a flock of Whimbrels and these breeding-plumaged White-faced Ibis.

Cottonwood & Willow Grove, 11 May 2002
# Species Numbers
1 Great Blue Heron 1
2 Snowy Egret 2
3 Cattle Egret 2
4 Cinnamon Teal 4
5 Turkey Vulture 2
6 American Kestrel 1
7 Mourning Dove 40
8 White-winged Dove 75
9 Olive-sided Flycatcher 1
10 W. Wood Pewee 14
11 Western Kingbird 2
12 Cliff Swallow 60
13 Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2
14 Verdin 2
15 Swainson's Thrush 1
16 Northern Mockingbird 1
17 European Starling 6
18 Warbling Vireo 2


# Species Numbers
19 Hermit Warbler 6
20 Orange-crowned Warbler 3
21 Yellow Warbler 51
22 Wilson's Warbler 8
23 Townsend's Warbler 17
24 Yellow-headed Blackbird 6
25 Western Tanager 72
26 Red-winged Blackbird 15
27 Bullock's Oriole 3
28 Great-tailed Grackle 1
29 Brown-headed Cowbird 8
30 Song Sparrow 1
31 White-crowned Sparrow 2
32 Abert's Towhee 3
33 Blue Grosbeak 1
34 Black-headed Grosbeak 25
35 Pine Siskin 1
36 House Finch 4
37 Lazuli Bunting 3

Photos Henry D. Detwiler