Birding Festival: May 13, 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 Sunday, May 13, 2018
Another colorful bird viewed during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak
Dolores and Lizard Head Pass
Fred Blackburn, Naturalist-historian

6:00 am; $45
This tour proceeds along the Dolores Highway corridor and offers an outstanding opportunity to bird a variety of habitats and elevations. Depending on weather and access, the tour stops in Dolores to observe the upper portion of McPhee Reservoir plus sewage ponds known to attract various ducks, shorebirds, gulls and terns and to explore the Dolores River flowing through town. Following the river northward, potential stops include a park and wildlife area, Bear Creek and Priest Gulch trailheads, Bear Creek Mountain Lodge and ultimately Lizard Head Pass at over 10,000’ elevation. All of these stops, at increasing elevations and with water nearby, have the potential to provide diverse species. On the other side of the pass are Trout Lake and nearby marshy areas where moose were spotted in the fall of 2015. Some choice birding in the higher elevations might include Spruce Grouse, White-tailed Ptarmigan, Three-toed Woodpecker, Pine Grosbeak and Red Crossbill. (33 species, 2017) Easy. Lunch provided.
Mesa Verde National Park
John Koshak, Watchable Wildlife Coordinator, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, 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 accipiters, Peregrine Falcon, Downy Woodpecker, Virginia’s & Black-throated Gray warblers, Juniper Titmouse, Ash-throated & Dusky flycatchers, Western Tanager, Western Wood-Pewee, Lazuli Bunting, Green-tailed & Spotted towhees, Rock & Bewick’s wrens, Clark’s Nutcracker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, swifts and hummingbirds. (31 species, 2017) Easy to moderate. Lunch provided.
Birding on the Fly
John Bregar, Oil & Gas Geologist/Geophysicist, Retired

6:30 am; $40
Spend the day with an expert birder from the area in a more open-ended way than pre-determined tours. This tour is a unique opportunity for the leader and participants to chase down personal target birds, rarities seen on previous days of the festival, or simply visit birding hotspots and multiple habitats of SW Colorado. This “ad hawk” tour has the potential to produce a high species count with opportunity to cherry-pick some of the best birds of the festival, as well as offering the flexibility to find new surprises. (72 species, 2017) Easy. Lunch provided.
Ponderosa pines surround Summit Lake and make great viewing for the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak
Summit Lake for Teens and Adults ½ Day
Martin Cuntz, Youth Birding Ambassador

6:45 – 11:45 am; $25 (adults)/$20 (teens)
Enjoy a morning trip to Summit Reservoir with a teen birding specialist. This 526-acre State Wildlife Area is nine miles northwest of Mancos on Hwy 184. The 7,300′-7,500′ elevation offers stunning views of La Plata Mountains and Mesa Verde. Ponderosa Pines cover the north end of the property with willows on the banks. Explore the diverse habitats to observe species such as Wild Turkey, Double-crested Cormorant, Steller’s, Woodhouse’s & Pinyon jays, Black-throated Gray, Grace’s, Virginia & Orange-crowned warblers, flycatchers, raptors and more. Limited number of scholarships available for teens to encourage birding interests. (72 species, 2017) Easy road and trail hiking. NO LUNCH. $25 adults; $20 teens (no registration fee for teens).
Mother’s Day Mancos Special ½ Day
Michelle Hanington, Biological Technician, TEGRE Corportation

7:00 am – 12:30 pm; $35 (you)/$18 (Mom)
Treat your mother to a special outing on her day. Visit a prime site for cavity nesters near Mancos before birding at Cottonwood Park. The riparian habitat attracts species like grosbeaks, orioles, Black and Say’s phoebes, hummingbirds, warblers and possibly an American Dipper. Proceed to a private home located in pinyon-juniper woodlands at the base of Mesa Verde. Enjoy a delectable brunch with more birding opportunities while taking in the inspiring 360-degree view. Golden Eagle, hawks, jays, woodpeckers, swallows, Western bluebirds, Spotted Towhee, Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse and White-breasted Nuthatches could add to the mix. Reduced tour fee for mothers accompanied by an offspring paying full tour fee. Easy.


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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