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2017 birding festival features overnight owling tour

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The Ute Mountain-Mesa Verde Birding Festival, which will occur May 10-14, traditionally opens with a Wednesday evening owling tour.

The 2017 schedule offers a twist: owling along the La Plata River corridor. The overnight "Blue Lake Ranch-La Plata River Tour" departs by van from the Cortez Cultural Center (25 N. Market St., Cortez, Colorado) at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon (May 10). After birding along the route and at the old Fort Lewis site, participants will eat at the Kennebec Cafe in Hesperus, Colorado. Participants are responsible for their supper expenses. Then the "owling" begins as the tour proceeds along the La Plata River toward Blue Lake Ranch, known for irises and other colorful flowers.

Participants will lodge overnight in the comfortable accommodations of Blue Lake Ranch. Following a gourmet breakfast the next morning, birding opportunities resume among the diverse gardens that enclose Blue Lake and at the ranch's riverside riparian area. Blue Lake Ranch's landscapes, surrounded by high desert, become a mecca for migrant and resident avian species.

Registration for the annual birding festival includes lectures and a Saturday evening banquet. Keynote speaker Kevin Cook's presentation is "200 Miles of Birding in 200 Years." Single-day registrations also are available. Tour fees vary according to tour destinations. All UMMV tours depart by van from the Cortez Cultural Center and provide lunch, water and snacks. Participants in the overnight tour arrange lodging through Blue Lake Ranch, (970) 385-4537. Mention the birding festival for special deals.

The UMMV Birding Festival lectures and the Saturday keynote presentation are open to the public with a nominal fee. For more information and online registration, visit utemountainmesaverdebirdingfestival.com or call the Cortez Cultural Center, (970) 565-1151.

- Staff report

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