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.
5:30am - 5:00pm: Mega Miramonte Meander
Eric Hynes, Professional Guide, Field Guides Tour Company
Miramonte Reservoir, a remote migrant trap, is accessible through the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests. En route, stop at McPhee Park, set aside in 1925. Old stand ponderosa pines harbor woodpeckers, flycatchers, Grace’s Warbler, Cassin’s Finch, nuthatches and more. Anticipate raptors along the way. Waterfowl frequent ponds scattered across the high plateau. Miramonte lures a mix of waterfowl and shorebirds. Gunnison Sage Grouse may be a remote possibility. (70 species 2019) Easy. Lunch provided.
6:00am: Montezuma Land ConservancyTrail Canyon
Linda Martin, Supervisory Interpretive Park Ranger, Mesa Verde National Park, Retired
Trail Canyon, an isolated oasis, comprises historic homesteader ranches now in conservancy. Located north of McElmo Creek, the dramatic geography includes sheer canyon walls and a beautiful waterfall. The riparian, juniper, cottonwood and sage prairie habitats lie within a migratory path and provide opportunities to see a variety of flycatchers, vireos, Yellow, Wilson’s, Orange-crowned and maybe MacGillivray’s warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lazuli Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, American Kestrel and the occasional Golden Eagle. (43 species 2019) Moderate with a hike of up to three miles round trip. Lunch provided.
6:15am: Mancos: An Old West Habitat
Diane Cherbak, Citizen Scientist and Chairman, UMMV Birding Festival
A trip through the Mancos Valley is like a journey into the past. Many historic ranches that have existed for over 150 years continue to operate. Cattle drives still pass through the streets of Mancos. Mining, logging and a railroad also have left their marks to provide a variety of birding habitats. Waterfowl nest or feed in the numerous stock ponds and reservoirs. Red-winged and Yellow-headed blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbird, Sora, Virginia Rail and Common Yellowthroat can be expected in the associated cattail/bulrush marshes. The riparian woodland characterized by cottonwood, willow and buffalo-berry could add Western Screech-owl, Western Kingbird, Bullock’s Oriole, Great Blue Heron, Spotted Towhee and Magpie. The agricultural lands add habitat for Western and Mountain bluebirds, Mourning Dove and Horned Lark. The pastures and meadows are prime hunting grounds for American Kestrel, Barn Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Common Nighthawk and Northern Harrier. Easy. Lunch provided.
6:30am: Montezuma Land Conservancy
Nature Center at Butler Corner and Beyond
Donna Thatcher, Director, Riverside Nature Center at the Farmington Museum
Butler Corner sits adjacent to national forest above the town of Dolores. Observe Broad-tailed Hummingbird and Barn Swallow before embarking upon easy trails that cover approximately two miles. With more than 50 nest boxes along the trails, expect to see Mountain and Western bluebirds as well as Tree Swallow and House Wren. In the Boggy Draw area, habitats of mature Ponderosa Pine, an open understory of Gambel Oak and mountain shrubs attract chickadees, Northern Flicker, Black-chinned Hummingbird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Violet-green Swallow, Clark’s Nutcracker, Steller’s Jay, Western Tanager and Spotted Towhee. Target birds: Red Crossbill, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Brown Creeper, Pygmy Nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow, Grace’s Warbler and Hermit Thrush. (35 species 2019) Easy to moderate. Lunch provided.
6:45am - 11:45am: Geer Natural Area with Optics Training ½ Day
Eric Moore, Owner, Jay’s Bird Barn, Prescott, AZ
Located at the north edge of Cortez, Geer Park’s year-round pond attracts a multitude of waterfowl, waders and swallows. Scrub Jay, Northern Flicker, sparrows, hummingbirds, warblers and finches favor an adjacent arroyo. This park is ideal for learning to use spotting scopes and binoculars with access to an array of Swarovski and Vortex optics. (51 species 2019) Easy.
5:30pm – 6:30pm: “The Bird You Always/Never K: Facts and Stories about the Supremely Amazing Black-billed Magpie”
Ted Floyd, Editor “Birding” Magazine
The Black-billed Magpie is one of the most widespread and familiar birds in all of Colorado. It’s easy to take the species for granted and some people consider the bird a nuisance. But magpies are fascinating: adaptable, resourceful and ingenious. Magpies have emotions and even culture. They are, in the end, remarkably like humans. In this fun, breezy presentation, Ted Floyd will tell magpie stories, share a bit of magpie science and equip us with a fuller and richer appreciation of these remarkable birds.