May 11-15, 2016
The Annual Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival is a popular attraction for visitors to southwestern Colorado. Nestled between alpine and mesa forests and scenic desert canyons, the Four Corner’s scenic 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 other place in Colorado.
Mesa Verde Birding Festival Highlights
Hosted by the Cortez Cultural Center, the festival features regional wildlife specialists who volunteer as tour guides and guest lecturers. Each year new tours are added to many favorites. Festival participants explore an array of birding hotspots that attract loons and grebes to sparrows, grosbeaks, and finches.
Overnight tours within easy driving distance offer bird species not found in the Cortez area.
Tours typically combine birding with regional archaeology, ecology, and history. The birds include gulls, shorebirds, waterfowl, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Bald and Golden eagles, owls, woodpeckers, flycatchers and phoebes, American Dipper, towhees, crossbills, bluebirds, tanagers, and warblers.
About 180 bird species are recorded at each festival.
Birders of all abilities, ages, and interests are welcome. Evening lectures, social hours, a bird-themed art show, and banquet are part of five enjoyable days of learning, socializing, and most importantly birding.
Mesa Verde Birding Festival Venue
The Cortez Cultural Center is located in an historic building built in 1909 to house the E. R. Lamb Mercantile. An unusual painted pressed-metal facade brightens the front of the building.
The Center, founded in 1987, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide an interactive forum for the community’s artistic, cultural, educational, historic and natural environment interests. It has become a home for artists, cowboy poets, archaeologists and musicians. Since its inception, the Center has provided programs to thousands of residents and visitors to the Four Corners area and has demonstrated its goal of diversity in programming. It currently has over 450 members and receives more than 35,000 visitors annually.
Cortez Cultural Center
The Cortez Cultural Center, founded in 1987, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide an interactive forum for the community’s artistic, cultural, educational, historic and natural environment interests.
The center has become a home for artists, cowboy poets, archaeologists and musicians. It has provided a diversity of programs to thousands of Cortez, Colorado residents and visitors to the Four Corners area. It currently has over 450 members and receives more than 35,000 visitors annually.
In April, the center hosts the annual Pueblo-to-Pueblo Bike Event and Run.
The Hawkins Preserve is an important asset to the center and area residents. The 122-acre tract of land within the southern city limits of Cortez, was donated to the Colorado University Center of Cortez, which later became the Cortez Cultural Center, by Jack Hawkins 30 years ago.
The Preserve is a valuable asset for the residents and visitors of Cortez because of the environmental setting, the diversity of plant and animal species represented across several biotic communities, the historic and prehistoric cultural resources, and the accessibility of these resources to visitors.