May 11 - May 15, 2016
The Annual Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival provides a popular venue for visiting southwestern Colorado during the second weekend in May. Nestled between alpine and mesa forests and scenic desert canyons, the Four Corner’s intriguingly diverse landscapes, and mild climate, have drawn people to the region for generations. Ancestral Pueblo farmers dwelled in places now known as Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, and Canyon of the Ancients. Today’s meadows, pastures, cultivated fields, historic orchards, stock ponds and reservoirs establish habitat for a wide-spectrum of migratory and resident birds. Some species, such as Lucy’s Warbler, are found no place else in Colorado.
Hosted by the Cortez Cultural Center, the UMMV Birding Festival draws upon the expertise of regional wildlife specialists who volunteer as tour guides and guest lecturers. Each year new tours, and repeat favorites, explore an array of birding hotspots that attract avian species from loons and grebes to sparrows, grosbeaks, and finches. Overnight tours within easy driving distance offer different environs and the prospect of encountering species not found within the Cortez area.
Southwest Colorado’s first birding records date to the 1880s. Tours that combine birding with regional archaeology, ecology, and history take UMMV birders into the realms of gulls, shorebirds, waterfowl, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Bald and Golden eagles, elusive owls, woodpeckers, flycatchers and phoebes, American Dipper, towhees, crossbills, and colorful bluebirds, tanagers, and warblers. The festival’s birding tally has climbed to 180 species.
The UMMV Birding Festival designs activities and tours to fit a gamut of abilities, ages, and interests. Early evening lectures, social hours, a bird-themed art show, and banquet add to the festival’s five days of enjoyment — learning, socializing, and most importantly birding.
The Peregrine Fund is a rather small conservation organization that works to conserve birds of prey in nature. Founded in 1970, The Peregrine Fund’s initial effort was directed towards saving the Peregrine Falcon from the brink of extinction. Along its path to recovery, finally delisted in 1999, the work with Peregrine falcons expanded The Peregrine Fund’s focus in raptor conservation to include more than 100 species in 65 countries, including the California Condor and Aplomado Falcon here in the United States.
Chris Parish, Program Director for The Peregrine Fund’s Condor Recovery Program and our 2016 UMMV Birding Festival Keynote Speaker will discuss the role of NGOs and how hands-on work can yield positive results for raptors worldwide. The Keynote Address will take place Saturday, May 14th at 7:30 pm at the Cortez Conference Center.