Birding Festival: May 16, 2020 Events

We regret to announce the 2020 Birding Festival has been canceled in accordance with COVID-19 safety measures. All registered participants should have received an email with instructions for obtaining a refund. If you registered for our 2020 Birding Festival and have NOT received this notice, please contact Plans are already underway for next year's Birding Festival, so please make plans to join us in 2021!

16th Annual


May 13 - May 17, 2020

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Events Scheduled for Saturday, May 16, 2020
Lucy's Warbler have often been spotted at the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Charles Haspels

TOUR #16

Whirlwind of Warblers
Glenn Dunmire, Field Biologist

5:30 am – 4:00 pm; $60
This whirlwind tour’s goal is sighting all 10 nesting warbler species documented in SW Colorado. Bird among numerous habitat types: desert canyon, riparian corridor, wetland, pinyon-juniper forest, Ponderosa forest and oak dominated understory. Target species are Lucy’s, Grace’s, MacGillivray’s, Black-throated Gray, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Virginia’s, Orange-crowned & Wilson’s warblers and Common Yellowthroat. Yellow-breasted Chat possible. Other spring migrants include vireos, tanagers and flycatchers. Moderately difficult with a strenuous hike, lots of driving and numerous stops. Lunch provided.
EXPANDEDSOLD OUT!Only 1 Space Available!

TOUR #17

Lower Dolores River Canyon
Ted Floyd, Editor “Birding” Magazine

5:45 am; $55
Explore the slightly warmer micro-climate of the Dolores River’s dramatic lower canyon about 15 miles downstream from Bradfield Bridge at Box Elder Campground. Beneath red rock cliffs, walk through riparian habitat filled with early arriving spring migrants and resident species. The locale is ideal for hearing and seeing Golden Eagle, Swainson’s & Red-tailed hawks, sparrows, swifts, swallows, thrushes, vireos, warblers, wrens and falcons. (40 species 2010) Easy. Lunch provided.
Having lunch at the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak

TOUR #18

Montezuma Land Conservancy

RSL Ranch in Lost Canyon & the Lakes at Summit Ridge
Jim Beatty, Past President, Colorado Field Ornithologists
6:00 am; $50
Lost Canyon lies tucked between Haycamp Mesa and the flat lowlands north of Mesa Verde. This riparian corridor, which served early ranchers and loggers as the historic route for a narrow-gauge railroad and the Galloping Goose, attracts passerines and flycatchers. The beautiful stands of ponderosa forest are home to Grace’s Warbler, nuthatches, woodpeckers and accipiters. Summit Lake SWA & Puett Reservoir attract waterfowl and shorebirds. The willows and trees surrounding the lake harbor warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, bluebirds and more. (64 species 2019) Easy road and trail hiking. Lunch provided.

TOUR #19

Boggy Draw
Eric Hynes, Professional Guide, Field Guides Tour Company

6:15 am; $55
Participants in this year’s UMMV Birding Festival have the unique opportunity to help establish a baseline of bird sightings within Boggy Draw. The mixture of habitats incorporates mature and young Ponderosa Pine forest, mixed Scrub Oak/mountain shrub understory, wet lands and mountain meadows. Anticipated bird species include Red Crossbill, Western Tanager, Pygmy Nuthatch, Virginia’s Warbler, Western Wood Pee-wee, Western Bluebird, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Lewis & Hairy woodpeckers, Mountain Chickadee, Dusky Grouse, Sharp-shinned Hawk and who knows what else. Easy road and trail hiking. Lunch provided.
Burrowing owls are often seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Charles Haspels
Only 1 Space Remaining!NEWSOLD OUT!

TOUR #20

Ute Mountain Tribal Park
Linda Martin, Supervisory Interpretive Park Ranger, Mesa Verde National Park, Retired

6:30 am; $75
Combine birding with experiencing Mancos Canyon’s archaeological sites. 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-inscribed cliffs provide habitat for raptors, swifts, wrens and owls. Black Phoebe may nest under a bridge. Vireos and flycatchers frequent pinyon-juniper uplands. (35 species 2019) Easy. Lunch while overlooking ancient cliff dwellings.



TOUR #21

Montezuma Land Conservancy

At the Foot of the Mesa
Vern Gersh Naturalist Ranger, Bureau of Land Management, Retired; Terry McLaughlin, Naturalist, Northern Arizona University
6:45 am; $50
The iconic RSL Ranch, registered as a Centennial Farm since the 1980s, has a rich heritage. Having homesteaded just north of this property in 1874, the Lee family represents a long lineage of local farmers and ranchers in Montezuma County. Back-dropped by Mesa Verde NP, the ranch holds 1060 acres of scenic sagebrush rangeland. Help add to the bird survey for this historic property that encompasses critical wildlife connectivity areas. Flycatchers, Pinyon Jay, N. Mockingbird, Chipping, Brewer’s, Lark & Black-throated sparrows, raptors, waterfowl & swallows are possible. (40 species 2019) Easy. Lunch provided.
Thomas Preserve provides prime birding habitat

Photo courtesy of Carla Fox



5:30 pm – Social Hour and Silent Auction Opens
6:15 pm – Dinner
7:15 pm – Silent Auction Closes
7:30 pm – Keynote Speaker: Ted Floyd, “Thoughts on Birding and Nature Study in the Digital Era”

Many birds are colorful and some are brilliant. Their songs can be enchanting. Their migrations are often stirring. And they can FLY, for crying out loud. Those are all amazing avian attributes, but are they really what attract us to birdwatching? While all of those may be part of the appeal, Ted Floyd thinks there’s something grander, deeper and more beautiful about bird watching.



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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