Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival
Celebrate nature with interesting and provocative workshops and field trips where expert guides take you to the area's birding hot spots. Located in the cottonwood-willow habitat along the Verde River at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, the festival is known for its small groups, expert leaders, and unusual venues. Visitors from all over the country flock to Cottonwood for this annual event, but that doesn't mean the locals don't look forward to this celebration every year. Registration started Feb. 1 and already several of the most popular trips are sold out, but there's so much to offer that there are still dozens of trips to chose from each day.
This year the focus is on the cultural influence of wildlife with "10,000 Years of Birding." This year's featured artwork depicts bird petroglyphs from all over Northern Arizona. Local naturalist Randy Miller created the collaged from drawings collected on his travels. On Saturday during the evening dessert reception, keynote speaker Rich Wright will present his amusing and informative talk "Birding in Arizona's Frontier" about Arizona's early naturalists. Some of those naturalists did their studies here in the valley while stationed at Fort Verde. The cost is only $15 and not only includes dessert but also the opportunity to support the event during the raffle. Other celebrations of nature's cultural connection include the Yavapai Nation's Bird Dancers at Saturday's Family Fun Day and a guided bird walk in Spanish.
Field trips include tours to local birding hot spots: Page Springs, Tavasci Marsh, Oak Creek Canyon, Montezuma Well, and the surrounding habitats of Prescott and Flagstaff. Other birding options include the luxury of traveling on the Verde Canyon Railroad in first class with an expert birder. The special Cadillac Canoe brunch, the Condor Caper to the Grand Canyon and the Bucolic Breakfast highlight the festival. While some trips include a box lunch, others serve gourmet meals. Along with the returning favorites, there are new trips added to the schedule including Focus on Flycatchers, Dragons and Damsels (flies), a sunset trip, geology trips, and an archeological trip with Peter Pilles from the Coconino National Forest. The nature photography seminar and safari, given by Tom Whetten from Arizona Game and Fish, are always popular. This year there is a special presentation on digiscoping, the new fad of taking photographs with your digital camera through a spotting scope. If you want to purchase binoculars, during the festival is the perfect opportunity and you can learn what to look for and how to properly use them during the "Here's Looking at You Lunch" while enjoying a scrumptious lunch from award winning Double H Bar-B-Q at the same time.
Every year it's bigger and better. Come "Bird the Verde" and join in celebrating nature's world. Check the Web site at birdyverde.org. For more information, contact Barbie at 282-2202.
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