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Annual birding festival kicks off on Earth Day
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 16:30
Like swallows to San Juan Capistrano, hundreds of nature enthusiasts are expected to flock to Dead Horse Ranch State Park once again for the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival, now in its 10th year.

The festival opens Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, with more than 20 classes, tours and workshops scheduled, including a free welcoming reception at 4 p.m. at Dead Horse Ranch State Park on Thursday.

“My goal, in addition to providing a great recreational opportunity, is to preserve these natural habitats,” Barbie Hart, festival founder and coordinator, said. “The only way to get people to do that is to get them to care and this a way we can do that.”

JNL-VV-birding-fest-4-14The keynote presentation takes place at 6:30 p.m., Friday, April, 23, at Old Town Cottonwood Civic Center with Bill Thompson III, a bird watcher with 30 years experience who shares humorous anecdotes about the art and science of his favorite pastime.

Thompson, editor of the Bird Watcher’s Digest, has authored many books about birds and nature, most recently, “The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.”

“We are proud to have him here to help celebrate our 10th anniversary,” Hart said.

More than 300 people are expected to attend the free Family Nature Fair starting at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 24. The fair features games for children, exhibits, demonstrations and an appearance by the Bird Man, who will show off his live birds, Hart said.

Birders have been signing up since February to take part in more than 80 different programs scheduled for the four-day event. The festival’s last program, a Lunch and Learn on Bird Care, starts at 11:30 a.m. and concludes at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 25.

“We encourage preregistration,” Hart said. “Of course, you can just show up, but then you’ll just have to take what’s left.”

Most walks and field trips start at the Aviary, a refreshment station located across the sidewalk from the registration tent at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

Events are scheduled to take place across the Verde Valley and greater Sedona, with trips to Red Tank Draw and Beaver Creek, Bubbling Ponds in Page Springs, Tavasci Marsh near Clarkdale, Stoneman Lake on the Mogollon Rim and Agua Fria National Monument.

While birding is a primary focus for many visitors, others will enjoy sightseeing trips and workshops to learn about the area’s geology and plant life, butterflies, bears and even flying dinosaurs.

Space is limited and some events may already be sold out. An up-to-date schedule of events can be viewed at


Verde Valley Weather



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