Verde Valley Birding Festival

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5/3/15 - In April we spent 3 days at a birding festival in Cottonwood, AZ. It was about 2 hours north of Chandler, near Sedona, & it turned out to have a charming "Oldtown" section, where we stayed. The festival was in its 15th year at nearby Dead Horse Ranch State Park & people from all over the US attended. They offered field trips to many of the surrounding areas that were rich with birds & held classes on many topics, all led or taught by well-respected individuals with lots of expertise. I (Kathy) was intent on birding, while Candy was focused on honing her bird photography skills.

Our field trips usually started at 7:00AM and lasted between 5 & 8 hours. We selected trips to Montezuma's Well, Mingus Mountain & Sedona Wetlands/Red Rock State Park. There were usually around 14 people in a trip. We had some great trip leaders & some that might have been experts but were certainly not leaders. We enjoyed each trip & learned a lot from other participants, though we were all challenged by rain on 2 afternoons.

The festival organizers kept a large chart updated on a daily basis with all of the species everyone saw on all of the field trips. The photo above shows the counts at the end of the 1st day, 144 species. Although the official counts for our 3 trips were 2-3 times higher than ours, we saw a total of about 75 species of birds. I didn't count anything I didn't see clearly, nor anything where we only heard its call. Out of those 75 species, 24 were new to me (life birds). They included Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Northern Rough-Winged & Violet-Green Swallows, Painted Redstart, Grace's & Olive Warblers, Plumbeous & Cassin's Vireos, Western Bluebird, Mountain Chickadee, Pygmy Nuthatch, Spotted Towhee, Sora, Common Yellowthroat, Scott's Oriole, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Common Black Hawk & Bridled Titmouse.

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