Birding Festival

Special Thanks to:

Best Western in Cottonwood for hosting our keynote speaker.
Jay’s Bird Barn for providing the Armchair Birding opportunity
and as a sponsor of the Welcome Reception.
Caffe Ibis for the bird-friendly coffee.
Walmart and YOUR donations for our hospitality booth.
Credit Union West for our water.
Verde River Growers for a tree and plants for the Aviary.
Home Depot for the kid’s birdhouse kits.
Doug Von Gausig of “Naturesongs” for providing our website hosting,
and our webmaster, Joe Spangler, and our registrar, Jeri Higgins.


In the spring our fancy turns to our backyard gardens and expectations of returning migratory birds. One of the great advantages of taking bird watching as a hobby is that although we can travel the world and visit exotic environments to watch birds, we can also do it in the privacy of our own backyards. Feeding or planting a landscape that’s not only beautiful but healthy and attractive to birds benefits all. By bringing birds to our backyards, we increase our hours of enjoyment watching their antics. By being careful hosts, we can provide essentials for the traveler, nesting space and material for the resident, and a ready food supply. It’s like giving them a hand up. Whether we chose to feed or not, all of Nature is dependent on us. It’s in our everyday decisions, how we walk on the land, our choices when we purchase products, and our political voice that impacts the land and the wildlife who visit our backyards or not.

2018 Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival Leadership Committee

The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival is coordinated through the work of countless volunteers. This list represents the leadership of these volunteers from across our community.
Event Coordinator: Kathleen Green
AZ State Parks and Trails liaison: George Christianson
Field Trips: Whit Manter
Workshop and Keynote Speaker: Trisha Travis
Canoe and Kayak Trips: Bob Rothrock and Dan Di Stefano
Transportation: Peggy Miller and Joe Stack
Social Events: Joan Otterson
Vendors and Exhibits: Dennis Tomko
Logistics: Joe Spangler and John Kinnamon
Raffle and Gift Shop: Connie Gilmore and Michael Durgain
Volunteers: Chris Jensen and Amanda Webster
Graphic Design: Susie Beach and Kristin Follett
Lunches: Kristin and Bob Rothrock
Kids Education-Family Fun Day: Barbie Hart Kids School Trips: Erin Cody
Registrar: Jeri Higgins
Friend of the Verde River liaison: Laura Jones
Finances: Harry Sweet
Marketing & Website: Karon Leigh, Friends of the Verde River

The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival is a program of Friends of the Verde River. Friend’s works collaboratively to restore habitat, sustain flows and promote community stewardship to support a healthy Verde River system. To this end, we envision a healthy, flowing Verde River and tributaries that support our unique environment, vibrant economy, and quality of life for future generations.

Board of Directors:
Chip Norton, President
Tony Gioia, Vice President
Harry Sweet, Treasurer
Peggy Chaikin, Secretary
Brent Bitz, Marsha Foutz, Max Castillo, Susan Culp, Siera Russell

Our Story

The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival started as a celebration of birding at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in 2001. The founders were looking for a way to provide a fun and educational birding experience to both the local community and visitors. We knew we had an undiscovered treasure in the diversity of habitats within the Verde Valley as well as great birding in Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

Our mission statement of providing a unique recreational experience to anyone interested in the natural world and fostering awareness of the importance of habitat for the enrichment of all life in the Verde Valley, speaks to the goals of the event. Through the enrichment of experiences and proving economic value in natural resources, stewardship of those resources is assured.

The festival is organized by a planning committee made up of Friends staff and community volunteers. Some represent agencies and organizations but they all donate their time throughout the year toward the success of the event. The committee has adopted a section of roadway that crosses the Verde River and cleans up litter every other month.  They also contribute their time to other work projects, programs and environmental organizations throughout the valley. These dedicated people are the heart of the event.

In 2005 the event was recognized by the State of Arizona as an Arizona Treasure. The event has grown into one of the most popular events of this type in Arizona. We share the popularity of birding in Arizona with Southwest Wings, and the Wings Over Wilcox, both annual trip-based festivals.

One of the key elements of the event is the educational aspect. Not only do we offer workshops for the participants but we work with the local schools to provide educational resources for the students. We offer an essay contest for students with the award being a good pair of binoculars to start them on this lifetime hobby plus their class is invited to the park during the event to enjoy programs planned especially for them. We also work with youth groups to foster the love of the outdoors, nature and birding. The festival also includes the Family Nature Fair where families can attend for free and learn about nature through fun activities. Again, all this is possible through the support of the community.

We are referred to as the Friendliest Birding Festival” and it is our pleasure to try to maintain that reputation. We also pride ourselves on the uniqueness of the trips, the knowledge of the leaders, and the value and satisfaction that the participants receive. We hope you enjoy your time in the Verde River Valley and participating in the festival. Welcome!

We would also like to thank all the field trip leaders and presenters who without their knowledge and enthusiasm, this festival would not be possible.

The Festival Committee would like to thank all of YOU for your support of the festival and for your commitment to the natural environment.

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