Birding Festival: May 17, 2023 Events

We are excited about the 2024 Birding Festival! Save these dates:

May 15 - May 19, 2024

For an idea of the tours, lectures and bird sightings available, take a quick tour through our 2023 events.


16th Annual


May 17 - May 21, 2023

Jump to Events Scheduled for:
Events Scheduled for Wednesday, May 17, 2023

A raptor seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak
FESTIVAL CHECK-IN, Cortez Cultural Center Gallery

12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Full Registration Fee & banquet $85
Daily registration fee $15
(no reg. fee req’d for teens)
Banquet only fee  $55
Lectures included with each day’s registration,
otherwise $5 at door




Simon Draw & Totten Reservoir
Erik Hendrickson, Engineer, National Park Service, Retired

12:30 pm – 5:30 pm; $35
Totten Reservoir is one of the best places to bird in Montezuma County (eBird Hotspot #1). Constructed in 1907, Totten holds some of the oldest bird records in the county. Look for ducks, grebes, herons, ibis and marsh birds such as Yellow-headed Blackbird and Sora. For the UMMV Birding Festival, the Bureau of Reclamation is allowing participants to visit the wetlands at Simon Draw, normally closed in spring for waterfowl nesting. At Simon Draw, find more ducks, possible migrating shorebirds, Virginia Rail, sparrows and Sage Thrasher in the scrub surrounding the constructed ponds. Bald Eagles and other raptors nest near both Totten and Simon Draw and often are seen hunting. SWA pass required. Easy. Approximately 10 miles round trip.


Montezuma Land Conservancy

Nature Center at Butler Corner and Beyond

Kristina Kline, Wildlife Biologist, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm; $30
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. 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 in 2019) Easy to moderate. Approximately 25 miles round trip.



Montezuma Land Conservancy
Wildflower Walk at Hawkins Preserve
David Faulkner, Natural Resource Biologist, Retired

1:30 pm – 4:30 pm; $25
Walk Hawkins Preserve’s trails during peak wildflower bloom. Protected for decades, these 122 acres within Cortez’s city limits incorporate vegetation of native habitats: sagebrush, pothole-slickrock, pinyon-juniper, riparian, rim rock and more. Specific species are emphasized for value as dye plants, medicine, wildlife browse, horticulture and bird habitat. (17 species in 2019) Moderate, up to one mile flat walking. Easy. Approximately 3 miles round trip.



Falcons and Eagles and Owls…Oh My!
Tyler Lausten, Wildlife Photographer; Carolyn Gunn, Veterinarian, Retired

2:30 pm – 8:30 pm; $45
The ever-popular raptor tour within the Cortez area has expanded to incorporate early evening hours. Species could include Bald and Golden eagles, Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Great-horned Owl, Barn Owl and Burrowing Owl. Some of these species might be observed on or near their nests. Peregrine Falcon, Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk are other raptor possibilities. Easy. Box dinner provided. Approximately 65 miles round trip.
Birding Festival Photo

Water birds are frequently spotted this time of year. Photo © Tim Reeves

“Optics 101”
Eric Moore, Owner Jay’s Bird Barn, Prescott, AZ

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Learn the basics of optics used for bird watching, including both binoculars and spotting scopes. Topics covered include learning about magnification, objective lens sizes, field of view, depth of view, light-gathering, steadiness and weight, and how all of these factors influence your bird-viewing experiences. Learn what the primary differences are between using a compact pair, compared to a mid-sized or a full-sized binocular. Hands-on lessons possible.

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Cortez Cultural Center Gallery
Join fellow bird enthusiasts during the UMMV Birding Festival’s Welcome Reception. Enjoy beer, wine, appetizers and the bird art exhibit.


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 4:00 pm.
  • Carpools/caravanning will be used for all tours. Drivers will be reimbursed for gas by passengers at the GSA rate of 66 cents per mile, divided among all participants in the vehicle.
  • 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

Connect with Ute Mountain-Mesa Verde Birding Festival on FacebookConnect with the Birding Festival on Facebook!