Birding Festival: May 14, 2020 Events

The Birding Festival is BACK for 2023! Mark the dates on your calendar: May 17 - May 21, 2023. For an idea of the kinds of tours, lectures and bird sightings available, take a quick tour through our 2020 events, and stay tuned for more information about our 2023 Keynote Speaker, Lectures and Tours.

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Events Scheduled for Thursday, May 14, 2020
A scaled quail seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Charles Haspel
Only 1 Space Remaining!EXPANDEDNEWSOLD OUT!


Mega Miramonte Meander
Eric Hynes, Professional Guide, Field Guides Tour Company

5:30 am – 5:00 pm; $65
Miramonte Reservoir, a remote migrant trap, is accessible through the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests. En route, stop at McPhee Park, set aside in 1925. Old stand ponderosa pines harbor woodpeckers, flycatchers, Grace’s Warbler, Cassin’s Finch, nuthatches and more. Anticipate raptors along the way. Waterfowl frequent ponds scattered across the high plateau. Miramonte lures a mix of waterfowl and shorebirds. Gunnison Sage Grouse may be a remote possibility. (70 species 2019) Easy. Lunch provided.




Montezuma Land ConservancyTrail Canyon
Linda Martin, Supervisory Interpretive Park Ranger, Mesa Verde National Park, Retired

6:00 am; $50
Trail Canyon, an isolated oasis, comprises historic homesteader ranches now in conservancy. Located north of McElmo Creek, the dramatic geography includes sheer canyon walls and a beautiful waterfall. The riparian, juniper, cottonwood and sage prairie habitats lie within a migratory path and provide opportunities to see a variety of flycatchers, vireos, Yellow, Wilson’s, Orange-crowned & maybe MacGillivray’s warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lazuli Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, American Kestrel and the occasional Golden Eagle. (43 species 2019) Moderate with a hike of up to three miles round trip. Lunch provided.
Only 1 Space Remaining!


Mancos: An Old West Habitat
Diane Cherbak, Citizen Scientist and Chairman, UMMV Birding Festival

6:15 am; $50
A trip through the Mancos Valley is like a journey into the past. Many historic ranches that have existed for over 150 years continue to operate. Cattle drives still pass through the streets of Mancos. Mining, logging and a railroad also have left their marks to provide a variety of birding habitats. Waterfowl nest or feed in the numerous stock ponds and reservoirs. Red-winged & Yellow-headed blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbird, Sora, Virginia Rail and Common Yellowthroat can be expected in the associated cattail/bulrush marshes. The riparian woodland characterized by cottonwood, willow and buffalo-berry could add Western Screech-owl, Western Kingbird, Bullock’s Oriole, Great Blue Heron, Spotted Towhee and Magpie. The agricultural lands add habitat for Western & Mountain bluebirds, Mourning Dove and Horned Lark. The pastures and meadows are prime hunting grounds for American Kestrel, Barn Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Common Nighthawk and Northern Harrier. Easy. Lunch provided.


Just one of many species seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak


Montezuma Land Conservancy

Nature Center at Butler Corner & Beyond

Donna Thatcher, Director, Riverside Nature Center at the Farmington Museum
6:30 am; $50
Butler Corner sits adjacent to national forest above the town of Dolores. Observe Broad-tailed Hummingbird and Barn Swallow before embarking upon easy trails that cover approximately two miles. With more than 50 nest boxes along the trails, expect to see Mountain & Western bluebirds as well as Tree Swallow and House Wren. In the Boggy Draw area, habitats of mature Ponderosa Pine, an open understory of Gambel Oak and mountain shrubs attract 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: Red Crossbill, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Brown Creeper, Pygmy Nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow, Grace’s Warbler and Hermit Thrush. (35 species 2019) Easy to moderate. Lunch provided.
Birding Festival Photo

Black backed gull. Photo © Tim Reeves

Geer Natural Area with Optics Training ½ Day

Eric Moore, Owner, Jay’s Bird Barn, Prescott, AZ

6:45 am – 11:45 am; $35
Located at the north edge of Cortez, Geer Park’s year-round pond attracts a multitude of waterfowl, waders & swallows. Scrub Jay, Northern Flicker, sparrows, hummingbirds, warblers and finches favor an adjacent arroyo. This park is ideal for learning to use spotting scopes and binoculars with access to an array of Swarovski & Vortex optics. (51 species 2019) Easy.



“The Bird You Always/Never Knew: Facts and Stories about the Supremely Amazing Black-billed Magpie”
Ted Floyd, Editor “Birding” Magazine

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
The Black-billed Magpie is one of the most widespread and familiar birds in all of Colorado. It’s easy to take the species for granted and some people consider the bird a nuisance. But magpies are fascinating: adaptable, resourceful & ingenious. Magpies have emotions and even culture. They are, in the end, remarkably like humans. In this fun, breezy presentation, Ted Floyd will tell magpie stories, share a bit of magpie science and equip us with a fuller and richer appreciation of these remarkable birds.


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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