May 8 - May 12, 2019
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.
An Obsession, A Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World
Noah Strycker, 32, is Associate Editor of Birding magazine, the author of four well-regarded books about birds, and a regular contributor of photography and articles to all major bird magazines as well as other media.
In 2015, during a quest spanning 41 countries and all seven continents, Strycker set a world Big Year record by seeing 6,042 species of birds — more than half the birds on Earth. His 2017 book, Birding Without Borders, relates the experience. His other books are Among Penguins (Oregon State University Press, 2011), The Thing with Feathers (Riverhead Books, 2014), and Birds of the Photo Ark (National Geographic, 2018).
Strycker has studied birds on six continents with field seasons in Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Australia, Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, and the Farallon Islands. He also works as a naturalist guide on expedition cruises to Antarctica and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, literally spreading the inspiration of birds from pole to pole.
Strycker is a competitive tennis player, has run five marathons, and hiked the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. He is based in Oregon, where his backyard has hosted more than 100 species of birds.
Noah will present the 2019 UMMV Birding Festival’s Keynote Address “Birding Without Borders: An Epic World Big Year” on Saturday, May 11th at 7:30 pm at the Cortez Conference Center, 2121 E Main St, Cortez.
Visit Noah’s website at www.noahstrycker.com.
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.