Black-tailed Gnatcatcher


Yuma & Colorado River 
23 May 2004
Narrated by Henry Detwiler

Bill Massey and I spent a fantastic morning north of Yuma hunting for Black Rails and other local residents.
species -- bird list is at the bottom of the page
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.


I picked up Bill at his motel at 5:00am, and dawn enveloped us as we drove along the California side of the Colorado River north to West Pond.  A Great Horned Owl watched us from the edge of the All-American Canal, and hooted while we searched for the rails.  At West Pond, we got a Black Rail to growl at us, and then we hustled over to the Arizona side of the river for another try.  


Our first sight was was of a nice healthy bobcat, one of two we would see that day.  And then, we heard the familiar "ki-ki-kerr" call of the Black Rail for an Arizona tick!

The next stop was farther up the Gila Gravity Canal, where we found Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Gambel's Quail (nice photo!), and Verdin. A short hop west took us to Hidden Shores Golf Course, where we were alone with the birds.

Gambel's Quail

Cedar Waxwing

Two pairs of Vermillion Flycatchers, a flock of Cedar Waxwings (the one on the left just took off), two late Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Wilson's Warbler, Yellow Warblers, and two Willow Flycatchers were among the birds enjoying the pleasant temperature and lush landscaping.

We followed the Gila Gravity Canal  south along Mittry Lake, and found a large flock of Cliff Swallows collecting nesting material. 

Cliff Swallows
At the Mittry Lake overlook, we encountered this Mule Deer, a fairly uncommon sight around here.  Out in Mittry Lake we didn't see much, only a few American Coots.

Rough-winged Swallow

Mule Deer


Along a small canal, we got excellent looks at several Rough-winged Swallows, including this perched individual.  


At Betty's Kitchen Bill heard a Summer Tanager as soon as we exited the car.  It was a nice adult perched high in the Athel Tamarisks.  Half a dozen Willow Flycatchers, a Western Wood Pewee, and several Pacific-slope Flycatchers were taking advantage of these trees.  Along the trail, we spotted Blue Grosbeak, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Phainopepla, and heard a Bell's Vireo.

Summer Tanager

Desert Spiny Lizard

We spotted several lizards this morning, including a nice Desert Spiny.  All too soon, we had to head back to Yuma, so Bill could drive back to Tucson for a 2:00 birthday party.  But it had been an excellent morning of birding in Yuma County.


Cliff Swallows collecting nesting material

Lower Colorado River, 23 May 2004
# Species Qty
1 Pied-billed Grebe 2
2 Double-crested Cormorant 1
3 Great Blue Heron 2
4 Great Egret 3
5 Snowy Egret 3
6 Green Heron 2
7 Red-tailed Hawk 1
8 American Kestrel 1
9 Gambel's Quail 16
10 Black Rail 3
11 Virginia Rail 4
12 American Coot 6
13 Killdeer 4
14 Greater Yellowlegs 1
15 Turkey Vulture 3
16 Rock Pigeon 22
17 White-winged Dove 12
18 Mourning Dove 4
19 Common Ground-Dove 4
20 Great Horned Owl 1
21 Lesser Nighthawk 18
22 Black-chinned Hummingbird 1
23 Anna's Hummingbird 3
24 Gila Woodpecker 3
25 Ladder-backed Woodpecker 3
26 Western Wood Pewee 1
27 Willow Flycatcher 10
28 Pacific Slope Flycatcher 5
29 Black Phoebe 3
30 Vermilion Flycatcher 4
31 Ash-throated Flycatcher 1


# Species Qty
32 Western Kingbird 16
33 Bell's Vireo 1
34 Warbling Vireo 2
35 Horned Lark 1
36 Northern Rough-winged Swallow 44
37 Cliff Swallow 80
38 Verdin 4
39 Marsh Wren 2
40 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 2
41 Northern Mockingbird 2
42 European Starling 18
43 Cedar Waxwing 11
44 Phainopepla 1
45 Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
46 Wilson's Warbler 2
47 Common Yellowthroat 6
48 Yellow Warbler 8
49 Summer Tanager 1
50 Western Tanager 2
51 Abert's Towhee 4
52 Song Sparrow 1
53 Blue Grosbeak 4
54 Red-winged Blackbird 22
55 Yellow-headed Blackbird 1
56 Great-tailed Grackle 18
57 Brown-headed Cowbird 8
58 Hooded Oriole 1
59 Bullock's Oriole 1
60 House Finch 8
61 House Sparrow 14

Photos Henry D. Detwiler