Birding Festival: May 19, 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 Friday, May 19, 2023
A chickadee seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak
Only 1 Space Remaining!


Mega Miramonte Meander
Erik Hendrickson, Engineer, National Park Service, Retired

5:30 am – 5:00 pm; $50
Miramonte Reservoir, a remote migrant trap in Dan Noble State Wildlife Area, is accessible through the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests. En route, stop at McPhee Park, an area set aside in 1925 to preserve old-growth ponderosa pine which harbors 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 in 2019) SWA pass required. Easy. Lunch provided. Approximately 140 miles round trip.
Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #10

Montezuma Land Conservancy

Trail Canyon

Ted Floyd, Editor “Birding” Magazine; Dave Ross, Wildlife Biologist, Retired

5:45 am; $50
Trail Canyon, an isolated oasis, features 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 in 2019) Moderate with a hike of up to three miles round trip. Lunch provided. Approximately 30 miles round trip.
A Great Blue Heron in flight

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #11

Montezuma Land Conservancy

At the Foot of the Mesa

Don Marsh, Enthusiastic Birder

6:00 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. Backdropped by Mesa Verde National Park, 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, Northern Mockingbird, Chipping, Brewer’s, Lark & Black-throated sparrows, raptors, waterfowl and swallows are possible. (40 species in 2019) Easy. Lunch provided. Approximately 20 miles round trip.
Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #12

Montezuma Land Conservancy

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. Approximately 40 miles round trip.


Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #13

Beginning Birding ½ Day

Bald eagles can be seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Donna Thatcher, Director, Riverside Nature Center at the Farmington Museum, Retired

6:30 am – 11:30 am; $15 (no reg fee req’d)
Join a fun, hands-on introduction to bird watching. Become familiar with choices in field guides and binoculars and how to use them. Learn the steps in identifying birds at feeders and in the wild. Walk Denny Park looking for waterfowl and songbirds. Observe a heron rookery, time permitting. Easy. Bring a sack lunch for a picnic at Denny Park. $15 – no registration fee required. Approximately 5 miles round trip.



“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 and 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.
  • 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

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