Season for the birds* takes flight *and their human friends

Season for the birds* takes flight *and their human friends

Birding festival attracts enthusiasts to Cortez
Courtesy Photo/Marc Meyer



WILSON’S SNIPE are visible in wet areas near Cortez this time of year.
Journal photo/Suzy Meyer



A KILLDEER chick ventures out on its own.
Old Spanish Trail tour combines birding, history

This year's Ute Mountain/Mesa Verde Birding Festival gives 'trail fanatics' and birding enthusiasts an opportunity to pursue their passions with Birding the Old Spanish Trail.

The two-day excursion, May 9-10, follows the Old Spanish Trail trade route between Cortez and Pagosa Springs. Mark Franklin, Old Spanish Trail Association (OSTA) board member and an avid Durango birder, leads the tour. In experiencing the terrain through which the historic Old Spanish Trail passed, participants visit the only site in Colorado known for Acorn woodpeckers. Other birding hotspots around Navajo Reservoir and along the San Juan River also offer a variety of bird species. An overnight stay in Pagosa Springs allows time to enjoy the famous hot springs before retiring.

The westward leg of the tour, via U.S. Highway 160, includes a guided stop at Chimney Rock National Monument, home of nesting peregrine falcons. More birding occurs along the historic Piedra River before the tour returns to Cortez by mid-afternoon on Friday.

According to Linda Raczek, a volunteer involved with the birding festival for several years, 'This is one of the most inviting and unique tours the bird fest has ever offered. It appeals not only to birders, but also to locals with an interest in history and archaeology.'

Spanish explorers and prospectors began following old trails into the Four Corners region during the 18th century. In 1776, the well-known Dominguez-Escalante expedition documented a route that became part of the Old Spanish Trail linking Santa Fe and southern California. Regional landmarks along the OST include the San Juan River, Animas Park (Durango), Sierra de la Plata, Mancos Valley, the Dolores River, the Great Sage Plain, and the Colorado River near today's Moab, Utah. The original trail, now labeled as the Main Branch, and two alternate branches were designated as the Old Spanish National Historic Trail in 2002.

Learn more about the Old Spanish Trail through OSTA's website at www.oldspanishtrail.org. The annual OSTA conference rotates among six western states. Cortez will host the 2013 OSTA conference, May 31-June 2.

Scope it out

May 8-12, 2013

$50 festival registration includes reception, lecture's and Saturday night's keynote speaker.

See individual tours for pricing.

All tours start at the Cortez Cultural Center, 31 N. Market, Cortez.

Bring water, jacket, hat, binoculars, camera and field guide.

For more information or to register, call 565-1151, or visit www.utemountainmesaverdebirdingfestival.com.

The Colorado Field Ornithologists Convention will be held in Cortez the following weekend.

Season for the birds* takes flight *and their human friends

Courtesy Photo/Marc Meyer



WILSON’S SNIPE are visible in wet areas near Cortez this time of year.
Journal photo/Suzy Meyer



A KILLDEER chick ventures out on its own.
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Cortez ~ Events
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