Birding Festival: May 10, 2018 Events

15th Annual


May 8 - May 12, 2019

We're excited about the 2019 Birding Festival! Mark the dates on your calendar: May 8 - May 12, 2019. For an idea of the kinds of tours, lectures and bird sightings available, take a quick tour through our 2018 events.

Take a look at the events from last year's Festival:

Events Scheduled for Thursday, May 10, 2018
A scaled quail seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Charles Haspel
Bluff & Sand Island State Park, Utah
Fred Blackburn, Naturalist-historian; Erica Tucker, Education Manager, Friends of Cedar Mesa

5:45 am Thursday – 5:00 pm Friday; $75
Begin the tour with a trip through the Ute Mountain Ute Farm & Ranch with the hope of finding a Burrowing Owl. An hour-and-a-half southwest of Cortez, the quaint town of Bluff, Utah offers a great early-season birding destination. Large cottonwoods along the San Juan River and a warmer climate make this tour feel like spring migration has jump-started. Summer & Western tanagers, warblers, Lazuli Bunting, Gray Vireo, Scaled Quail, sparrows, orioles, hummingbirds and waxwings are often sighted. Bird the feeders, trees and river trail at Recapture Lodge; then spend time at Sand Island, with its immense glyph panel and trails. Overnight in Bluff provides time for socializing over dinner, potential owling for Western Screech-Owl and early morning birding in the area. The return drive to Cortez may include a stop at lower Yellow Jacket Canyon to listen for Lucy’s Warbler. (44 species, 2017) Easy; warm temps likely (80s). Thursday lunch provided. Other meals, transportation and lodging at Recapture Lodge (435-672-2281) not included in tour fee. Mention birding festival to receive special rate.
Ute Mountain Tribal Park
Linda Martin, Supervisory Interpretive Park Ranger, Mesa Verde National Park, Retired

6:00 am; $60
Combine birding with the unique experience of visiting Mancos Canyon’s ancient archaeological sites, first photographed in 1873 by William H. Jackson. Saltbush and sage bottomlands invite Sage Thrasher, Burrowing Owl, Scaled & Gambel’s quails and Lark, Sage & Black-throated sparrows. Willows and cottonwoods along the streambed attract Yellow-breasted Chat, tanagers, warblers, Indigo & Lazuli buntings and Blue Grosbeak. Glyph-decorated cliffs provide habitat for raptors, swifts, wrens and owls. Black Phoebe may be nesting under a bridge. Vireos and flycatchers frequent the pinyon-juniper uplands. (39 species, 2017) Easy. Lunch at a picnic spot overlooking ancient cliff dwellings.
Birding Among the Ancients
Mark Franklin, Historian, Old Spanish Trail Association

6:15 am; $40
High desert and sage landscapes surrounding remnants of ancient dwellings offer bird-rich habitats along Colorado’s Southwest Birding Trail. Stops might include Anasazi Heritage Center, Yellow Jacket Pueblo and Lowry Pueblo. Open expanses of cultivated fields are ideal for spotting buteos, eagles, falcons, Horned Lark and bluebirds. Intermittent stands of pinyon-juniper and cottonwood and rocky side-canyons entice Red-naped Sapsucker, flycatchers, Say’s Phoebe, Gray Vireo, titmice, wrens, warblers, towhees, Black-throated, Vesper, Lincoln’s & White-crowned sparrows and possibly a Loggerhead Shrike. Easy. Lunch provided.
Just one of many species seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak
Montezuma Land Conservancy

Lazy FW Ranch

Ilyse Gold, Wildlife Biologist, Four Corners Biological Consultants, LLC

6:30 am; $45
Located in the lower Mancos valley, this 167-acre working ranch has several excellent bird habitats ranging from pastures to woodlands and riparian river bottoms. It lies to the east of Mesa Verde NP, north and west of Weber Mountain and at the head of the lower Mancos River Canyon. Between 45-50 species can be expected in this area. Target birds include Belted Kingfisher, Black-headed Grosbeak, Bank, Barn, Rough-winged, Tree & Violet-green swallows, Hermit Thrush, Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Willow Flycatcher and Bald Eagle. Common species to watch for include Black-chinned Hummingbird, House Wren, Mourning Dove, Savannah Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Ferruginous Hawk. Lunch provided.
Montezuma Land Conservancy

Fozzie’s Farm ½ Day

Kristina Kline, Wildlife Biologist, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies

6:45 am – 11:45 am; $25
This 83-acre working farm donated to the Montezuma Land Conservancy as a preservation and education area consists of irrigated hay and pastureland, two small ponds, wind breaks and several low-lying wetlands. Target birds include American Pipit, White-faced Ibis, Golden Eagle, Long-billed Curlew, Great Blue Heron, Burrowing Owl and Northern Harrier. Other birds might include Red-tailed, Ferruginous & Swainson’s hawks, Common Snipe, Mourning Dove, White-breasted Nuthatch, White-crowned Sparrow, magpies, meadowlarks and bluebirds. En route from the Farm, the tour will stop at a nearby private pond with a unique viewing “treehouse” and walking path. Gently sloping, uneven and possibly wet terrain. NO LUNCH.
Birding Festival Photo

Black backed gull. Photo © Tim Reeves
Lecture: “Gulls of the Four Corners Region”
Tim Reeves, Professor, San Juan College, Farmington, Retired

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Identification tips are presented for all species of gulls known to occur in the Four Corners. Photos are shown along with dates and locations of sightings. Effects of climate change on the occurrence of these birds in our region are discussed. 


songbird silhouetteBirding Festival General Information

  • The Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival is the major fundraiser for the Cortez Cultural Center. All proceeds benefit the Center.
  • All tours require pre-registration.
  • A registration fee is required for all tours except as noted. Full registration includes keynote banquet and all lectures. Daily registration includes that day's lectures. Full registration is required in order to qualify for the free early bird t-shirt.
  • Unless otherwise noted, tours will return to the Center at approximately 3:00 pm.
  • Van transportation is provided except as noted.
  • Tour size is generally 13 or less.
  • Cancellations considered on a case by case basis up to 21 days prior to start of Festival. All cancellations subject to a processing fee.
  • Availability of restrooms depends on the tour. Nearly all guides scout out restroom locations as well as bird species. Some tours are in parks or other facilities that have established restrooms. Some have outhouses. Others, the only option are bushes. Usually the leader will mention the restroom plan at the beginning of the tour.
  • All tours depart from and return to the Cortez Cultural Center.
  • Tour times listed are the DEPARTURE time. Please arrive 15 minutes prior.

For Birding Festival information email

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