Birding Festival: May 20, 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 Saturday, May 20, 2023
Lucy's Warbler have often been spotted at the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Charles Haspels
Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #14

Ismay’s Yellow Jacket Canyon and Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch
Melissa May, M.S., Mountain Studies Institute Executive Director

5:45 am; $75
Yellow Jacket Canyon in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument cradles permanent riparian corridors with big cottonwoods and an understory unique to southwest Colorado – the only known location in Colorado for nesting Lucy’s Warbler. Canyon of the Ancients historic guest ranch sits in a Sedona-like setting with more than 5,000 documented archaeological sites. This popular tour has tallied Summer Tanager, Gray Flycatcher, Gray Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak, hummingbirds, a variety of warblers and Cooper’s Hawk. (45 species in 2019) Easy hiking; warm temps likely (80s). Catered lunch with locally sourced food provided. Approximately 80 miles round trip.
Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #15

Among the Ancients
Brenda Wright and Coen Dexter, Colorado Birding Atlas II

6:00 am; $50
High desert and sage landscapes surrounding remnants of ancient dwellings offer bird-rich habitats. Open fields around Lowry pueblo are ideal for spotting buteos, eagles, falcons, Horned Lark and bluebirds. Intermittent pinyon-juniper and cottonwood stands, and rocky side-canyons entice Say’s Phoebe, Gray Vireo, woodpeckers, titmice, wrens, flycatchers, warblers, towhees, Black-throated, Vesper, Lincoln’s & White-crowned sparrows and possibly a Loggerhead Shrike or Cassin’s Kingbird. (54 species in 2018) Easy. Lunch provided. Approximately 75 miles round trip.
Having lunch at the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Diane Cherbak
Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #16

Montezuma Land Conservancy

RSL Ranch in Lost Canyon and the Lakes at Summit Ridge
Jim Beatty, Past President, Colorado Field Ornithologists
6:15 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 State Wildlife Area and Puett Reservoir attract waterfowl and shorebirds. The willows and trees surrounding the lakes harbor warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, bluebirds and more. (64 species in 2019) SWA pass required. Easy road and trail hiking. Lunch provided. Approximately 75 miles round trip.


Burrowing owls are often seen during the Birding Festival

Photo courtesy of Charles Haspels
Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #17

Upper Dolores River and Twin Spruce Ponds State Wildlife Area
Ted Floyd, Editor “Birding” Magazine; Linda Raczek, Hawkins Preserve Manager, Retired

6:30 am; $50
Begin birding at the Dolores Ponds, one of the best places to bird in Montezuma County and an eBird hotspot. The diverse habitat offers riparian areas where the Dolores River meets McPhee Reservoir, pinyon-juniper, red-rock cliffs and a series of shallow ponds. Scan for waterfowl, listen for a singing Canyon Wren and hope to spot interesting migrants like American Pelican.
Continue north on scenic Hwy 145 with several stops along the way. Lunch at Twin Spruce Ponds State Wildlife Area. Target species include Empidonax flycatchers, waterfowl and Spotted Sandpiper. Ruby-crowned & Golden-crowned kinglets, American Dipper, Black Phoebe, Belted Kingfisher and Canada Jay (previously Gray Jay) also are potential species. (57 species in 2019) SWA pass required. Moderate amount of walking, with about 7-8 stops throughout the day. Lunch provided. Approximately 100 miles round trip.
Only 1 Space Remaining!

TOUR #18

Boggy Draw
Amanda White, Vice-President Durango Bird Club

6:45 am; $50
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, wetlands and mountain meadows. Anticipated bird species include Red Crossbill, Western Tanager, Pygmy Nuthatch, Virginia’s Warbler, Western Wood-Pewee, 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. Approximately 50 miles round trip.


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, “Viva la Revolution! Birding and Nature Study in the Digital Era”

With the advent of digital photography, crowd-sourced databases like eBird, and other technologies, birding and nature study have undergone profound change in the past two decades. The pace of change, rather than slowing down or stabilizing is, if anything, accelerating. In this spirited and informative presentation, Ted Floyd takes a look at how we got to where we are today—and gazes into his crystal ball for a peek at the future.



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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