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For clients who are avid birders, the 8th annual Ute Mountain/Mesa Verde Birding Festival will take place May 9-13, in southwest Colorado's Mesa Verde Country. Along with expert-led tours to spot and document sightings, the festival includes a reception event, workshops and lectures, an art show and dinner event with keynote speaker Thomas Dunlap. A professor of history at Texas A&M University, Dunlap is the author of the recently published "In the Field, Among the Feathered: A History of Birders and Their Guides" and several significant articles in the areas of environmental history and values, as well as an expert witness on DDT, a long-time birder and a conservationist.
Diverse habitats in the area include mountain high country, river corridors and rugged red rock canyons, according to Lynn Dyer, executive director of Mesa Verde Country. These microcosms of several Colorado Plateau ecosystems provide opportunities for a wide variety of species. In past years, birdwatchers have documented spotting up to 166 bird species, including: Lucy's warbler; black Phoebe; wild turkey; western tanager; black-chinned hummingbird; roadrunner; Clark's nutcracker; and green-tailed and spotted towhee. The festival also organizes special tours to search for raptors and owls.
“Spring migrants and early nesters attract birdwatchers from across the nation to the festival,” said Dyer.
In addition, since the festival is located in the archaeological center of America, many of the birding field trips visit archaeological areas such as Mesa Verde National Park and Ute Tribal Park.
“The chance to see such a diversity of birds in such a spectacular area is a one-of-a-kind experience,” said Dyer.
Festival registration, which includes the welcome reception, lectures and workshops, as well as the dinner, is $45. Special tours, including a tour of McElmo Canyon and wine tasting, are available for a nominal additional charge.