The recent Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival was once again a huge success! The 11th annual event saw hundreds of participants from all over the U.S., Canada and even the UK. There were dozens of field trips to unique birding spots throughout central and northern Arizona led by many talented and seasoned guides.
One of the goals of the Festival is to promote appropriate use and preservation of land resources in the Verde Watershed including agricultural lands. Many trips included gourmet meals from local farms prepared by the growers, restaurants, caterers, resorts and festival staff who have perfected the fine art of Dutch oven cooking.
This important Festival held each year at Dead Horse Ranch State Park involves a huge cadre of hard working people from Arizona State Parks, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Chambers of Commerce, Businesses, Festival guides and countless unsung heroes that show up each year to help. They erect tents, and displays, donate the use of vans, drive the vans, prepare field trip lunches, assist with organization and scheduling and so much more. Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of you. And a very special thanks to the Festival's tireless (well, maybe tired) Coordinator Barbie Hart and Assistant
Second only to gardening as America's favorite outdoor past time, birding enthusiasts spend large amounts of money on trips, lodging, meals, gear and guide services. Our local economy benefits greatly from the yearly festival which has grown to become one of the state's most popular - popular enough in fact, to draw a standing room only crowd to listen to this year's keynote speaker, David Sibley, renowed author/artist of many very popular field guides.
We are just now finishing the final tally of bird species seen by guides and participants as they double check field notes and we assemble our important data. This year 185 species were seen, one of our best years to date! The Festival is planned to coincide with the peak of spring migration and the birds do not let us down. We were treated with colorful tanagers, orioles, warblers and much, much more.
Once again the beautiful and diverse habitats that make up our home have provided us with a means to celebrate nature, the amazing cycles of migration we gathered to witness - and a means to stimulate our local economy. This example of ecotourism is truly a winner for us all.
Dena is a seasoned naturalist, birding guide and educator. As manager of Jay's Bird Barn in West Sedona she is available to answer questions about wild birds and enhancing your backyard habitat. You may contact her at (928) 203-5700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.