2018 Birding Festival

14th Annual


May 9 - May 13, 2018

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Thank You for Attending the 2018 Festival
We hope to see you again next year!

2018 Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival poster

FESTIVAL ARTWORK © 2018 CHRISTOPHER VEST Click to enlarge image. Reprinted by permission, all rights reserved. Visit Chris’s website for more original bird artwork

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.


2018 Featured Keynote Speakers
Emily M. Davenport & Amelia Gazzo
Caring for Pint-Sized Predators:
An intimate look into rehabilitating Colorado’s injured and orphaned swallows

Swallows pack huge personality and tenacity into their pint-sized package. When an orphaned or injured swallow is brought into a wildlife rehabilitation center it takes a specialized knowledge of their life history to provide the attention these little birds need in order to be released back into the wild. Join us for an intimate behind the scenes look at what it takes to care for some of the world’s smallest carnivorous birds and celebrate with us as we share a unique look into their world.

About Our Keynote Speakers

Emily M. Davenport
Emily Davenport, one of our Keynote Speakers

After nearly two decades devoted to providing care to both pets and wildlife, Emily M. Davenport founded the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Alliance in 2017. She spent eight years working as a veterinary technician for a community animal hospital, and developed and currently operates a successful pet care company. For over six years, Emily worked in several capacities with the Birds of Prey Foundation, including as Assistant Executive Director and ICU Manager.

Emily currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for Nature’s Educators. As a lifelong student of nature and biology, she seeks to unify wildlife professionals in the Rocky Mountain region through community and collaboration.

Emily earned her BFA in Illustration from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, where her focus was on veterinary and medical illustration. A published illustrator and frequent presenter on raptors and rehabilitation, Emily lives in Broomfield, CO, with her husband and their two dogs.

Amelia Gazzo
Amelia Gazzo, one of our Keynote Speakers

Amelia Gazzo has been working with wildlife for 5 years and received her full license for wildlife rehabilitation in 2015. She is an advisory board member with RMWA and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Colorado Native Bird Care and Conservation. In addition, she is a wildlife rehabilitator with Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center which is the largest wildlife rehabilitation center in the state.

When she is not caring for wildlife she is caring for companion animals as a Certified Veterinary Technician at VCA Anderson. She enjoys working wth all critters but is especially passionate about birds.  When she is not working with the animals, she is at home tending to her garden of both indoor and outdoor plants, and spending time with her pets, Macy’s the cat, CooCoo the Timneh African Grey parrot and Pickles the retired racing pigeon.

Emily and Amelia will present the 2018 UMMV Birding Festival’s Keynote Address “Caring for Pint-Sized Predators” on Saturday, May 12th at 7:30 pm at the Cortez Conference Center, 2121 E Main St, Cortez.


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.