Birding Festival: Tour Leaders

15th Annual


May 8 - May 12, 2019

We're excited about the 2019 Birding Festival! Mark the dates on your calendar: May 8 - May 12, 2019. For an idea of the kinds of tours, lectures and bird sightings available, take a quick tour through our 2018 events.

Take a look at the events from last year's Festival:

Tour Leader Bios

    Coen Dexter & Brenda Wright – as a coauthor of “Birds of Western Colorado Plateau and Mesa Country” (2004), Coen Dexter knows his birds. Coen and his wife Brenda Wright have seen and recorded more of the birds in this area than just about anyone, being long-time teachers and residents of the Colorado Plateau. They have also birded most of North America and in more than 30 foreign countries.
    David P. Faulkner has a BS from BYU in botany with an emphasis in ecology and natural resources.  He did Master’s work in Range Ecology from Oregon State University and research in applying remote sensing to natural resources. Most of his career has been as a natural resource consultant to such diverse organizations as NASA, EPA, United Nations FAO, BLM and USFS, BIA, Lakota Sioux, Ute Mountain Ute and Navajo tribes, and several energy companies and private land owners.  He has lived in the Cortez area for 40 years and has served with several community organizations including county planning board, and the Friends of Hawkins Board. He has also taught classes in plant identification for the Native Plant Master’s program under the Master Gardner and CSU Extension Service. He has conducted several threatened and endangered plant studies and range ecology surveys in the Four Corners area. Since retiring as a Natural Resource Biologist, he is pleased to be able to devote more time to birds and their habitats.
    Donna Thatcher is an education specialist with the Farmington Museum, and the Director of the Museum’s Riverside Nature Center. A lifelong birder, she initiated and leads weekly bird walks in Farmington’s riverside parks, as well as other birding and outdoor education activities. Donna has been a leader for the Birding Festival since its beginnings.

    Erica Tucker leads educational programs with Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, UT. She was an ornithology interpretive ranger in Acadia National Park and also led bird walks in Yosemite National Park and at Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra. Erica was the MC of the popular Bird Calling Contest at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua for four years, though she can only imitate a canyon wren’s song. After time in Maine and California, she enjoys meeting new desert bird species.
    Erik Hendrickson is a retired National Park Service engineer, now living in Cortez.  His Park Service assignments included Crater Lake, Gateway (in New York and New Jersey), Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and Denali. He spent as much time as possible birding in all those places.  He has been birding at most of the locations featured in the movie “The Big Year” (and got sea-sick on pelagic trips out of Monterey, CA).  Erik has been a regular visitor to Montezuma County since 1963 and has birded in the County since 1993.
    Gabi Morey has a background in wildlife biology and environmental education. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio, and a Master’s degree in wildlife biology from Michigan State University. Her Master’s degree involved a biodiversity study of birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians and plants in various habitat types in northern Minnesota. However, research wasn’t her cup of tea so she moved from biology to environmental education, working in South Carolina, California, Illinois and Utah before coming to Colorado.  Gabi has been working for San Juan Mountains Association since September 2004, starting out as the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (CANM) Stewardship Coordinator, then moving into the Education Outreach Director position. Gabi coordinates field trips, classroom presentations, teacher workshops and conservation education special events, among other things, as part of her job. She especially enjoys seeing the wonders of nature through children’s eyes.
    Glenn Dunmire is a field Biologist who has worked on numerous raptor and owl projects. He is working on the Second Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas. The Dolores River Canyon is Glenn’s backyard and he looks forward to these yearly outings to share the local birds. Glenn and accidental birding spouse, Carolyn, often spend vacations birding out of the country.
    Ilyse Gold worked for the BLM & Forest Service for about 30 years; with a great deal of time spent out in the field birding. She conducted numerous owl surveys with Marilyn Colyer plus inventories for Northern Goshawk and American Peregrine Falcon. Ilyse also completed US Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican spotted owl and southwestern willow flycatcher protocol trainings and conducted many habitat assessments for federally listed species as well as for federal agency sensitive species. Her master’s degree is on black-tailed prairie dogs, which gave her many close visits with burrowing owls!
    John Bregar is a retired oil & gas exploration geologist/geophysicist, who has lived in Durango for over 10 years. He has been an active birder since 1977 and has led trips in Texas, Alberta, Canada, as well as in Colorado. He is also a botanist and chairman of the Southwest Chapter of the Colorado Native Plant Society, plus he loves climbing mountains and is an ex-Chairman of the San Juan Group of the Colorado Mountain Club.
    Kristina Kline, a Colorado native, received her B.S. in Environmental Biology from Fort Lewis College in 2010. Shortly after, she worked as a biologist for a private company conducting avian surveys and threatened and endangered species surveys in SW Colorado. Along the way, she assisted with the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas II, volunteered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) working on black bear-human conflicts, and became a naturalist leading students on nature hikes. Kristina finished her M.S. in Wildlife Ecology at Oregon State University in 2016. Now back in SW Colorado she is a wildlife biologist for Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. She partners with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), CPW, and landowners out of the Durango NRCS office to implement wildlife habitat conservation projects on private lands.
    Linda Martin, Retired Supervisory Park Ranger in the Division of Interpretation & Visitor Services, Mesa Verde National Park, has led tours for the bird fest since 2006. She and Marilyn Colyer worked on Park bird surveys for over 25 years, trying to keep the files updated and the information current and accurate. Birdwatching is an avocation for her, as it is for millions, but her 36 year association with the Park gives her a solid knowledge of the birds and habitats of Mesa Verde.
    Martin Cuntz was born in Louisville, Kentucky on St. Patrick’s Day in 2002, and moved to Durango with his family when he was 3-years-old. He became interested in birds when he was 9-years-old after watching “The Big Year,” a movie that kick started his passion for Ornithology. Now, having just turned 16 and a sophomore at Durango High School, his development of bird watching has grown immensely over time. From leading small bird outings and counts, to being a volunteer for a MAPS (bird banding) project in Durango the past 3 summers, to receiving a Weminuche Audubon Society scholarship to attend Camp Colorado (an American Birding Association youth camp) in Estes Park in 2015, to conducting annual Christmas and spring bird counts with the Durango Bird Club (for which he is a member) and was just named the Club’s Youth Ambassador…His dedication to this special interest has added up significantly! He has current memberships with the American Ornithological Society, formerly the Cooper Ornithological Society (Martin is a descendent of namesake James Graham Cooper), and also the American Birding Association. He attended Camp Avocet in Delaware and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in summer of 2017. In addition, Martin has a number of other interests, including basketball, banjo, bass, and books…more B things! Martin is excited and honored to be leading a tour at this year’s festival!
    Paul Morey has worked in the wildlife field for 15 years, researching and managing for a wide array of animals including songbirds, raptors, coyotes and wolves. He is currently a wildlife biologist for Mesa Verde National Park.
    Tim Reeves moved to San Juan College in Farmington, NM, in 1990 and taught computer science there for 23.5 years. He has been a bird photographer since the 7th grade and has had 4 magazine covers. He has given numerous presentations on birds including annual presentations at the New Mexico Ornithological Society meetings for two decades. He served on the Board of Directors for NMOS for 6 years. He wrote two bird books, Birds of the B-Square Ranch (1996) and Birds of Morgan Lake (1996). He authored or coauthored several bird checklists for San Juan County, NM, from 1999 to 2016. He also coauthored the San Juan County chapter in the 3rd edition of the New Mexico Bird Finding Guide (2002). As owner of the company Reeves Bio-consultants, he has conducted bird surveys for BLM in all Four Corners states. His photography has been shown at the Riverside Nature Center and San Juan College in Farmington, NM.

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.

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