Birding Festival: May 11, 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 Friday, May 11, 2018
A chickadee seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak
Montezuma Land Conservancy

Roaring Fork Ranch (Montezuma Land Conservancy Co-sponsor)

Eric Hynes, Professional Guide, Field Guides Tour Company

6:00 am; $50
Located in the spectacular Dolores River Valley, this scenic 225-acre ranch property within the montane forest is dominated by Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine fir, aspen and mountain shrubs. Areas along the Dolores River, Rio Lado and Roaring Fork hold blue spruce, narrowleaf cottonwood, associated riparian habitats, red-rock cliffs, mountain meadows, willows and marshy areas. Many bird species use the property for temporary foraging, as nesting sites or as a migratory stopover. Ranging in altitude from 8,100′-9,100′ elevation, target birds include Bald Eagle, American Dipper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Tree & Violet-green swallows, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Purple Martin and Gray Jay. Common species could include Mountain Bluebird, Clark’s Nutcracker, Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush, Western Tanager, White-crowned & Chipping sparrows, Townsend’s Solitaire and Hairy Woodpecker. Moderate, uneven terrain, up to three miles walking. Lunch provided.
Montezuma Land Conservancy

Mancos River in Mesa Verde National Park

Paul Morey, Wildlife Biologist, Mesa Verde National Park

6:15 am; $45
Join Mesa Verde’s wildlife biologist in exploring this secluded and relatively pristine part of the park along the Mancos River. The tour will include birding as well as discussions about the history of this part of the park and future restoration and management of the area. Travel mostly off-trail over flat to uneven terrain through grass, big sage and juniper uplands and riparian areas dominated by willow and cottonwood trees. Species previously sighted are Wild Turkey, raptors, flycatchers, swallows, Black-chinned & Broad-tailed hummingbirds, Plumbeous Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow, Yellow-rumped & Black-throated Gray warblers and Lazuli Bunting. (44 species, 2016) Moderate hike of up to three miles round trip. Lunch provided.
A Great Blue Heron in flight

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Pontoon Boat on McPhee Reservoir
Brenda Wright and Coen Dexter, Colorado Birding Atlas II

6:30 am; $75
Join us on our “pelagic” tour while coursing the reservoir on a smooth-riding pontoon boat. McPhee Reservoir, fed by the Dolores River, is the second largest reservoir in Colorado. With over 50 miles of shoreline, sandstone cliffs, marshes and tree-lined canyons, expect to encounter a wide variety of species. Raptors might include Osprey, eagles, Red-tailed Hawk and Peregrine Falcon. Western, Eared & Pied-billed grebes, Great Blue Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, loons, mergansers, gulls, American Avocet, Willet, American White Pelican, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, wigeons and even ibises are possibilities. Easy. Be sure to bring sunscreen. Lunch provided. Limit 10.
Montezuma Land Conservancy

Nature Center at Butler Corner ½ Day

Donna Thatcher, Director, Riverside Nature Center at the Farmington Museum

6:45 am – 11:45 am; $25
Butler Corner, located above Dolores, sits adjacent to the national forest. Observe Broad-tailed Hummingbird and Barn Swallow before embarking upon a series of easy trails that cover approximately two miles. With more than 50 bluebird nesting boxes along the trails, expect to see both Mountain & Western bluebirds as well as Tree Swallow and House Wren. The habitat, consisting of mature Ponderosa Pine, an open understory of Gambel Oak and mountain shrub, may attract Mountain & Black-capped chickadees, Northern Flicker, Black-chinned Hummingbird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Violet-green Swallow, Clark’s Nutcracker, Steller’s Jay, Western Tanager and Spotted Towhee. Target birds could include Red Crossbill, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Brown Creeper, Pygmy Nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow, Grace’s Warbler and Hermit Thrush. Staid alpacas, rambunctious goats, friendly dogs, numerous chickens and geese add to the ambience. Easy to moderate. NO LUNCH.
Montezuma Land Conservancy

East Canyon Ranch and Mancos Owling
Bald eagles can be seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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. (42 species, 2017) Easy with some hiking. Box dinner from Absolute Bakery & Cafe provided.
Lecture: “The Raptors of Mesa Verde National Park”
Paul Morey, Wildlife Biologist, Mesa Verde National Park

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Mesa Verde National Park has been home to a wide range of birds of prey including Mexican Spotted Owl, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Northern Goshawk. This talk will discuss the history of the research and management of raptors in the park and what the future will hold for these species as it relates to potential impacts from climate change and other environmental and human pressures within and around the park.

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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