The Annual Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival provides a popular venue for visiting southwestern Colorado during the second weekend in May. Nestled between alpine and mesa forests and scenic desert canyons, the Four Corner’s intriguingly diverse landscapes, and mild climate, have drawn people to the region for generations. Ancestral Pueblo farmers dwelled in places now known as Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, and Canyon of the Ancients. Today’s meadows, pastures, cultivated fields, historic orchards, stock ponds and reservoirs establish habitat for a wide-spectrum of migratory and resident birds. Some species, such as Lucy’s Warbler, are found no place else in Colorado.
Hosted by the Cortez Cultural Center, the UMMV Birding Festival draws upon the expertise of regional wildlife specialists who volunteer as tour guides and guest lecturers. Each year new tours, and repeat favorites, explore an array of birding hotspots that attract avian species from loons and grebes to sparrows, grosbeaks, and finches. Overnight tours within easy driving distance offer different environs and the prospect of encountering species not found within the Cortez area.
Southwest Colorado’s first birding records date to the 1880s. Tours that combine birding with regional archaeology, ecology, and history take UMMV birders into the realms of gulls, shorebirds, waterfowl, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Bald and Golden eagles, elusive owls, woodpeckers, flycatchers and phoebes, American Dipper, towhees, crossbills, and colorful bluebirds, tanagers, and warblers. The festival’s birding tally has climbed to 180 species.
The UMMV Birding Festival designs activities and tours to fit a gamut of abilities, ages, and interests. Early evening lectures, social hours, a bird-themed art show, and banquet add to the festival’s five days of enjoyment — learning, socializing, and most importantly birding.
Ted Floyd is the Editor of Birding magazine, the award-winning flagship publication of the American Birding Association. He has written five bird books, including the Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America (HarperCollins, 2008) and How to Know the Birds (National Geographic, 2019).
Ted is also the author of more than 200 popular articles, technical papers, and book chapters on birds and nature. He is especially interested in analyzing bird vocalizations, in interpreting birds and nature for children and beginners, and in applying new media and emerging technologies toward the appreciation of nature.
A graduate of Princeton University (A.B., 1990) and Penn State University (Ph.D., 1995), Ted has taught biology, math, and statistics to everyone from second graders to advanced graduate students. He and his family live in Lafayette, Colorado.
“Thoughts on Birding and Nature Study in the Digital Era”
Many birds are colorful, and some are brilliant. Their songs can be enchanting. Their migrations are often stirring. And they can FLY, for crying out loud. Those are all amazing avian attributes, but are they really what attract us to birdwatching? While all of those may be part of the appeal, Ted Floyd thinks there’s something grander, deeper and more beautiful about birdwatching.
Ted will present the 2020 UMMV Birding Festival’s Keynote Address “Thoughts on Birding and Nature Study in the Digital Era” on Saturday, May 16th, 2020 at 5:30 pm at the Cortez Conference Center, 2121 E Main St, Cortez.
Learn more about Ted’s approach to birding at www.aba.org.
Birding 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.