While official registration for the Ute Mountain/Mesa Verde Birding Festival is noon on Wednesday, May 9, organizers of the event are recommending that participants register beforehand to have better chances of getting their choice of tours.
As an example, the Mancos Birding and Brunch scheduled for 7 a.m. on May 13 is already filled.
Birding Festival Committee Chairwoman Diane Cherbak said about 75 birding enthusiasts are expected to attend the five-day event that ends May 13. She also said there will be another 25 to 30 people who will be coming to Cortez to be tour guides.
Cherbak said half of the participants will be traveling to Cortez for the festival, and they tend to stay three to four days while the 50 percent who are locals only go on one or two tours.
She said there will be some new tours this year, including the returning Condors in Arizona at the Vermilion Cliffs, Saturdays Newspaper Rock Loop tour in Utah and the Birding Four Corners, which will explore in the Northwestern corner of New Mexico.
The festival, Cherbak said, was originally the brainchild of former Cortez Cultural Center Executive Director Deb Avery.
Cherbak said her recommendation is to register before showing up and then the only thing a participant would have to do is check in without worrying whether a tour is filled or not.
She said participants can register at cortezculturalcenter.org or utemountainmesaverdebirdingfestival.com.
Birding enthusiasts can also stay at the Super 8 or Baymont Inn motels in Cortez at discounted prices, she said.
There will also be a banquet and silent auction on the night of May 12, and people can attend even if they did not attend any of the lectures or take any tours.
Cherbak also said that there will be an assortment of lectures in the evenings at the cultural center throughout the five-day festival.
She also said there are many tours this year that will be closer to home for people not wanting to travel as much once arriving in Cortez, including the Bradfield Bridge tour, Mesa Verde and the Ute Mountain Tribal Park/Pottery tour.
Cherbak said there are a few tours that will be free including the beginning birding at Denny Lake and Hawkins Preserve which begins with an indoor program to learn bird identifications before heading to Denny Lake.
The festival is also taking advantage that students in Cortez have no school on Fridays and decided to have a Kids Birding Outing from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday May 11. The cost to take part in this activity is $5.
Linda Raczek, another organizer of the event, said there will also be a free Friday night event for people wanting to learn about nature feature photography.
Michael Maresh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org