Gambel’s Quail. Photo © 123rf.com
Mike Schmidt, Wildlife Biologist, Bureau of Land Management
6:00 am; $60
The habitat of Yellow Jacket Canyon in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument consists of permanent riparian desert corridors with big cottonwoods and understory unique to southwest Colorado — the only known location in Colorado for nesting Lucy’s Warbler. Travel to the Canyon of the Ancients historic guest ranch located in a Sedona-like red rock setting. More than 5,000 archaeological sites are documented in this beautiful area. This popular tour has offered sightings of Summer Tanager, Gray Flycatcher, Gray Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak, hummingbirds, other warblers and Cooper’s Hawk. (41 species, 2016) Easy to moderate; warm temps likely (80s). Catered lunch with locally sourced food provided.
Linda Martin, Supervisory Interpretive Park Ranger, Mesa Verde National Park, Retired
6:15 am; $40
Explore the best birding sites in this world-famous and unique National Park, well-known for its archaeological sites and pristine, varied habitats. Possible sightings include Virginia’s Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Juniper Titmouse, Ash-throated & Dusky flycatchers, Western Tanager, Western Wood-Pewee, Lazuli Bunting, Green-tailed & Spotted towhees, Peregrine Falcon, Rock & Bewick’s wrens, Clark’s Nutcracker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, accipiters and hummingbirds. (61 species, 2016) Easy to moderate. Lunch provided.
Brenda Wright and Coen Dexter, Colorado Birding Atlas II
6:30 am; $50
Available to bird for the first time, the Washburn Ranch is a sprawling 3,000-acre expanse of rolling sage brush plain and pinyon-juniper plant communities. The entire eastern boundary is shared with BLM land and offers panoramic views above the Dolores River. It was conserved with the Montezuma Land Conservancy in 2015 and 2016 in multiple phases. While the property is mapped as occupied habitat for the endangered Gunnison Sage-Grouse, the more common species visitors are apt to encounter on this property include Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Western Bluebird, Mourning Dove, Western Meadowlark, Spotted Towhee, Black-headed Grosbeak, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, Pinyon Jay, Plumbeous Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Black-capped Chickadee, Chipping, Song, Lark, Vesper & Brewer’s sparrows, Juniper Titmouse, Bushtit, Black-throated Gray, Virginia’s & MacGillivray’s warblers, Common Nighthawk, Sage Thrasher, Common Poorwill, Northern Flicker and Red-tailed Hawk. Easy. Lunch provided.
Chip Clouse, Biologist/Manager of the Front Range Birding Co.
6:45 am; $40
Situated on the Dolores River in a migratory corridor below McPhee Dam, the Bradfield Bridge area offers river habitats that entice a broad array of species including Black Phoebe, Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-breasted Chat, Canyon Wren, Lazuli Bunting, Wild Turkey and Belted Kingfisher. Swallows, warblers, raptors, woodpeckers, waterfowl and shorebirds add to the mix. The scenic sandstone canyon may even offer a sighting of river otters. This annual tour has been one of the Birding Festival’s most successful for species count. (90 species, 2016) Easy. Lunch provided.
Donna Thatcher, Director, Riverside Nature Center at the Farmington Museum
7:00 am; $10 No registration fee required
Join a fun, hands-on introduction to developing bird-watching skills. Become familiar with choices in field guides and binoculars and the ways to use them. Learn the first steps to identifying birds at feeders and in the wild. Travel by van to Thomas Preserve to practice your birding skills in varied habitats. (40 species, 2016) Easy. Bring a sack lunch for a picnic.
A variety of owls can be spotted during the Festival. Photo courtesy of SuBee Web Services
Chuck Haspels, Biologist
1:30 pm – 5:00 pm; $20
The basics of bird and wildlife photography will be covered for about an hour in the gallery at the Cultural Center before traveling to a heron rookery to do some photography. Classroom topics include digital terms (pixels, megapixels, sensors, JPEG, RAW, noise, white balance, histograms, etc.), equipment, exposures, techniques, files and processing photos. This introduction is designed for beginners, but experienced photographers are welcome to join in and share experiences and insights. After the classroom session, vanpool to a parking area, walk to the rookery and spend an hour photographing before returning to town. Great Blue Heron behavior will be discussed during class and in the field where Chuck’s camera setup will be available to try out. Easy.
Ilyse Gold, Wildlife Biologist, Four Corners Biological Consultants, LLC
3:00 pm – 11:00 pm; $50
East Canyon Ranch is a unique property tucked away in a narrow canyon south of Mancos. Shaped largely by water, the 560 acres encompass the entire canyon floor between Menefee Mountain Wilderness Study Area and surrounding BLM lands to the south. The ranch, protected with a conservation easement held by Montezuma Land Conservancy, hosts habitat for Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon. Other birds observed here include Black-headed Grosbeak, Virginia’s Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Northern Flicker, Juniper Titmouse and Western Bluebird. Have dinner at the last gate, then owl on the return trip through the canyon. In the Mancos Valley start hooting and listening for Great Horned, Long-eared, Flammulated, Western Screech, Northern Pygmy and Northern Saw-whet owls. A stop in Weber Canyon may add a Short-eared Owl to the list. Easy with some hiking. Box dinner from Absolute Bakery & Cafe provided.
Great Blue Heron. Photo © Bill Proud
Kevin Cook, Writer-Naturalist
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Only five states host more owl species than does Colorado. Our 14 species show a classical ecological pattern of occupancy: a few owl species live almost everywhere, a few assert selective preference of where they will live, and a few refuse to live anywhere but in their very specific favorite places. In this program, we will look at what attributes make a bird an owl, which owls live in Colorado, the lifestyles that connect those owls to geography, how to identify the various species once you find them, and what you need to do to refine your owling skills so that you can find them on purpose — by delibity! — more than by good luck.
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