Birding Festival: May 13, 2017 Events

We're excited about the 2018 Birding Festival! Mark the dates on your calendar: May 9 - May 13, 2018. For an idea of the kinds of tours, lectures and bird sightings available, take a quick tour through our 2017 events.

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Events Scheduled for Saturday, May 13, 2017
Scrub Jay

Scrub Jay. Photo ©
McElmo Canyon and Wine Tasting
Kylan Frye, Biologist, Ecosphere Environmental Services

5:30 am; $45
McElmo Canyon’s scenic red sandstone cliffs cradle sagebrush flats, pinyon-juniper hills, hayfields, pastures, historic orchards and vineyards. This varied habitat invites warblers, bluebirds, Lazuli Bunting, quail, Golden Eagle, Western Wood-Pewee, swallows, nesting orioles, White-throated Swift and hummingbirds. After visiting a bird-rich private ranch, proceed to Guy Drew Vineyards for more birding, wine tasting and a hot lunch. Local label wines will be available for purchase. (62 species, 2016) Easy.
Ute Mountain Ute Farm & Ranch
Jim Beatty, Past President, Colorado Field Ornithologists

5:45 am; $60
Accompanied by a tribal member from the Ute Mountain Ute Wildlife Resources Division, the tour will emphasize two areas: first, the Ute Mountain Ute Farm & Ranch Enterprises; second, an isolated reservoir. Travel between these areas covers a segment of the Colorado Plateau that makes up the majority of the reservation. Watch for several species of raptors including Burrowing Owl, American Kestrel and several buteos. Barn Owls are possible. Horned Lark, White-crowned, Black-throated & Sage sparrows, Gray Vireo, Gray Flycatcher and buntings should also be present. Target birds for this trip are Greater Roadrunner, Scaled & Gambel’s quails, Loggerhead Shrike and Scott’s Oriole. Both migratory and summer residents at the reservoir may include rails, phalaropes, stilts, gulls, herons, geese and several duck species. (45 species, 2016) Easy. Lunch provided.
Mancos Valley and Summit Ridge Lakes
Kristi Dranginis, Owner of Bird Mentor

6:00 am; $40
Bird along the Mancos River to observe a Great Blue Heron colony and search for a variety of species before proceeding to Mancos. Follow Cottonwood Park’s river trail through mature cottonwoods, low willows and tall grasses that lure early spring arrivals. Look for warblers, flycatchers, swallows, Black-headed & Evening grosbeaks, Cedar Waxwing, Downy Woodpecker and maybe even a nesting American Dipper. Then travel toward Dolores to visit lakes and forest areas off Hwy 184. The varied habitats offer opportunities for a high count that may include Red Crossbill, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Lewis’s Woodpecker and forest migrants, as well as Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, grebes, ducks, coots, shorebirds, raptors and herons. (71 species, 2016) Easy. Lunch provided.


Birding Festival Photo

Evening Grosbeak. Photo © Bill Proud
Dolores River Canyon
Brenda Wright and Coen Dexter, Colorado Birding Atlas II

6:15 am; $40
Explore the slightly warmer micro-climate of the Dolores River’s dramatic lower canyon about 15 miles downstream from Bradfield Bridge. Descend by van to Box Elder Campground at river’s edge. Beneath sheer red rock cliffs, walk a Forest Service road through riparian habitat filled with early arriving spring migrants and resident species. Tweets, trills and chirps fill the air. This tour provides an ideal opportunity to hear and view Golden Eagle, Swainson’s & Red-tailed hawks, sparrows, swifts, swallows, thrushes, vireos, warblers, wrens and falcons. (46 species, 2016) Easy. Lunch provided.
Ute Mountain Tribal Park
Linda Martin, Supervisory Interpretive Park Ranger, Mesa Verde National Park, Retired

6:30 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 found nesting under a bridge. Vireos and flycatchers frequent the pinyon-juniper uplands. (45 species, 2016) Easy. Lunch at a picnic spot overlooking ancient cliff dwellings.
Legendary Local Lakes
Jim Ramakka, Wildlife Biologist, Retired

6:45 am; $40
Tour local lakes and surrounding habitat to observe a variety of migratory and nesting waterfowl, shorebird and raptor species. Narraguinnep, McPhee and Totten reservoirs, as well as smaller Denny, Industrial and Thomas Preserve lakes, provide excellent opportunities to see eagles, Osprey, gulls, loons, herons, grebes, ducks, American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson’s Phalarope, warblers, swallows and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Rarities possible. (64 species, 2016) Easy. Lunch provided.
Birding Festival Photo

The Birding Festival is fun for kids, too! Photo © Gabi Morey
Family Outing: Denny Lake
Gabi Morey, Director of Education and Outreach, San Juan Mountains Association

9:00 am – 10:30 am; FREE – no registration fee required
Calling all young birders!  This family friendly activity encourages kids to become aware of their surroundings while developing bird-savvy. Parents are encouraged to join their children in learning bird characteristics, how to identify species and how to use binoculars plus we’ll have fun with some birdy games and activities. For kids ages 5-12 and an accompanying adult. Meet at Denny Lake.


Dinner, Silent Auction, Keynote Speaker at Cortez Conference Center, 2121 E Main St, Cortez

5:30 pm – Social Hour and Silent Auction Opens
6:15 pm – Dinner
7:15 pm – Silent Auction Closes
7:30 pm – Keynote Speaker – Kevin Cook, “200 Miles of Birding in 200 Years”

Two centuries ago, while people in the East were discovering birds and debating how to name them, people in the West were discovering landscapes and lifescapes and passing along the wonder. Western expeditions searched for cities of gold, routes for railroads, sites for military forts, places to mine precious metals; and somewhere in all that searching, people always found new wildlife. More than 150 years passed between the first bird documented in the unnamed place that would become Colorado and the actual naming of the place we now call home. This program presents the history that never gets taught; it is the story of how the discoveries of place and of birds weave together over time.


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