Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival
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.
12:00pm – 7:00pm: Festival Check-In, Cortez Cultural Center Gallery
Full Reg Fee and banquet $70
Daily registration fee $15
(no reg. fee req’d for teens)
Banquet only fee - $40
Lectures included with each day’s registration, otherwise $5 at door
12:30pm – 5:30pm: Denny Lake, Simon Draw and Totten Reservoir
Erik Hendrickson, Engineer, National Park Service, Retired
Among the best places to bird in Montezuma County are Totten Reservoir (eBird Hotspot #1) and Denny Lake (Hotspot #2). For the UMMV Birding Festival, the Bureau of Reclamation is allowing participants to visit the wetlands at Simon Draw, normally closed in spring for waterfowl nesting. Constructed in 1907, Totten holds some of the oldest bird records in the county. Look for ducks, grebes, herons, ibis and marsh birds such as Yellow-headed Blackbird and Sora. At Simon Draw find more ducks, possible migrating shorebirds, Virginia Rail, sparrows and Sage Thrasher in the scrub surrounding the constructed ponds. Bald Eagles and other raptors nest near both Totten and Simon Draw and often are seen hunting. At Denny Lake, look for warblers in the mature cottonwoods, sparrows in the shrubs lining the lakeshore, swallows skimming the lake and flycatchers perched on fences. Easy.
1:30pm – 4:30pm: Montezuma Land Conservancy
Wildflower Walk at Hawkins Preserve
David Faulkner, Natural Resource Biologist, Retired
Walk Hawkins Preserve’s trails during peak wildflower bloom. Protected for decades, these 122 acres within Cortez’s city limits incorporate vegetation of native habitats: sagebrush, pothole-slickrock, pinyon-juniper, riparian, rim rock and more. Specific species are emphasized for value as dye plants, medicine, wildlife browse, horticulture and bird habitat. (17 species 2019) Moderate, up to one mile flat walking.
2:30pm – 8:30pm: Falcons and Eagles and Owls…Oh My!
Carolyn Gunn, Veterinarian, Retired; Linda Raczek, former Manager, Hawkins Preserve
The ever-popular raptor Tour within the Cortez area has expanded to incorporate early evening hours. Diurnal species could include Bald and Golden eagles, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Great-horned Owl, Barn Owl and Burrowing Owl. Some of these species might be observed on or near their nests. Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk are other raptor possibilities. Easy.
3:00pm – 4:00pm: “Optics 101”
Eric Moore, Owner Jay’s Bird Barn, Prescott, AZ
Learn the basics of optics used for bird watching, including both binoculars and spotting scopes. Topics covered include learning about magnification, objective lens sizes, field of view, depth of view, light-gathering, steadiness and weight, and how all of these factors influence your bird-viewing experiences. Learn what the primary differences are between using a compact pair, compared to a mid-sized or a full-sized binocular. Hands-on lessons possible.
5:00pm – 7:00pm: Brews, Bites and Birds WELCOME RECEPTION
Cortez Cultural Center Gallery
Join fellow bird enthusiasts during the UMMV Birding Festival’s welcome reception. Enjoy beer, wine and hard cider tastings from local microbreweries, appetizers and a bird art exhibit. $10 for unlimited tastings.