Birding Festival: May 18, 2023 Events

16th Annual


May 17 - May 21, 2023

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Events Scheduled for Thursday, May 18, 2023
A scaled quail seen during the Birding Festival

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


Bird Photography – Turning Challenges into Photos
Glenn Dunmire, Field Biologist

6:00 am; $50
The field tour will first visit a local lake to take advantage of early morning light and views of water birds. Then on to McElmo Canyon’s pinyon-juniper habitat and bird feeders with opportunities for photographing birds up close. Finally, the tour will head to open agricultural habitat to view flying/sitting raptors and nests of eagles, hawks, owls and Great Blue Herons.


Techniques shown and/or discussed will include using phone, single lens, mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras, with and without a spotting scope. Topics covered will include employing optical and digital zoom features, using tripods, capturing action, exploring depth of field, light, and speed techniques, using photos for identification and documentation purposes and protecting gear during travel and inclement weather. Easy. Lunch provided.



Ute Mountain Tribal Park

Don Marsh

6:15 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 Grosbeaks. Glyph-inscribed cliffs provide habitat for raptors, swifts, wrens and owls. Bridges may harbor nesting Black Phoebes. Vireos and flycatchers also frequent the pinyon-juniper uplands. (35 species in 2019) Easy. Lunch while overlooking ancient cliff dwellings.
Just one of many species seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak

Only 1 Space Remaining!


Hartman Draw
Kristina Kline, Wildlife Biologist, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies

6:30 am; $50
Rare access to this secluded private property in beautiful Hartman Draw offers a rich birding experience with a diversity of habitats – grassland, marsh, riparian with mature cottonwoods, wetland, wet meadow, pinyon-juniper and sagebrush shrubland. The area attracts Bald & Golden eagles, hawks and other raptors. Explore varying terrain on foot. Other likely sightings include Juniper Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Marsh Wren, Wilson’s Snipe, Chipping & Lark sparrows, Ash-throated & Dusky flycatchers, Bullock’s Oriole, Yellow-breasted Chat, Osprey and Wilson’s Warbler. (52 species in 2019) Moderate hike of three to four miles. Lunch provided.


Only 1 Space Remaining!


Geer Natural Area with Optics Training ½ Day
Eric Moore, Owner, Jay’s Bird Barn, Prescott, AZ; Ryan Crouse, Manager Arizona Field Optics & Jay’s Bird Barn, Prescott

7:00 am – 12:00 pm; $35
Located at the north edge of Cortez, Geer Park’s year-round pond attracts a multitude of waterfowl, wading birds and 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 and Vortex optics. (51 species in 2019) Easy.
Birding Festival Photo

Black backed gull. Photo © Tim Reeves



“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 4:00 pm.
  • All tours will utilize carpooling with mileage paid to the driver, split between all occupants.
  • 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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