Join us as we Bird the Verde

Our field trips are led by experienced guides in beautiful central Arizona’s diverse habitats. Guided walks and workshops, vendors and exhibitors, along with special events and speakers, round out this four day event. New field trips are added each year to the schedule of old favorites.

2020 Keynote Speaker: Rick Bonney
Photo of Rick Bonney

Keynote speaker Rick Bonney is the recently retired director of public engagement at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Bonney will give a presentation titled “The Canary in the Cole Mine: An Update for the 21st Century.” This talk is about the change in bird populations as highlighted by the stories behind bird data.

The public is encouraged to attend. Festival registration is not required; individual keynote address tickets are available for sale online or at the door.

This event was to be held on Friday, April 24, 2020 from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Cottonwood Recreation Center.

Check back in early 2021 for keynote speaker details.

Festival Artwork Competition Winner

2020 Festival Bird- Southwest Willow Flycatcher

Artist Margo Mitchell – “In the Tree”

Margo lives in the red rock country of Northern Arizona. Raised in a rural area of Phoenix, her favorite subjects are southwestern in nature. Although art was her favorite school subject, it wasn’t until 1997 that she began to pursue her long-postponed ambition to paint.

Her personal style of painting is greatly influenced by the art she admires in museums and galleries in Europe and America.

Margo is a member of Oil Painters of America. She has served as Artist-In-Residence at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site and Petrified Forest National Park and looks forward to visiting other National Parks in the same capacity. She gives public presentations through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), sharing the artistic inspiration she receives as an Artist-In-Residence and from her travels in America and abroad.


Most workshops are being held at the Water Reclamation Conference Room across from Riverfront Park. Some workshops will be held at the new “Studio” at the far end of Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Shuttles are available to take participants to the site. Shuttles will leave from the River Day Use area 15 minutes prior to the start of the workshop. Try to arrive at least 5 minutes prior to departure. Restroom facilities are located in the buildings. We do offer limited off-site activities that require your own transportation. Please be aware of these exceptions.

Workshops and seminars have a fee involved and require registration. Both are held in either the Water Reclamation Conference Room or the park “Studio” located in the far end of the park, unless noted otherwise. Check in for all workshops at the registration tent. Participants will be shuttled to and from all workshops/seminars. There is no parking at the Studio. Restroom facilities are located in the building.

Meet at the shuttle stop in the parking lot of the River Day Use Area near the Aviary 15 minutes PRIOR to the seminar or workshop.

2021 Family Nature Festival
Saturday, April 24th, 2021 9am-1pm


Birds, Beaks, Bugs, Beavers, And Bubbling Ponds!

“Hummers and Butterflies” – Learn about Monarch butterflies: how they change through their life cycle, and how far they fly.  Learn which plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies and how we can help our native pollinators. Learn about where hummingbirds go on their yearly migrations.  Think about how far these two creatures both migrate! Migrations take more than one lifetime for Monarch butterflies. And hummingbirds have the longest migration per body size out of all the animals. Make a seed ball to take home!

“Just Bugs” – What bugs have you seen? Did you know that some bugs live underground for years, before finally coming out? Bugs change radically into different creatures with wings in order to fly, find a mate, breed and finally die. Come see bugs galore! Ask a bug specialist all of your burning questions about bugs, and see his own bug collection. Use a maginifier to see what bugs look like up close. Make meal worm habitat to take home.

“Binocs and Birds” – Learn how to use binoculars! As we watch for birds, you’ll also learn common birding etiquette and some basic bird identification.

“Pond Life”  – What creatures can we find in a pond or river? What does that teach us about water quality? Take home a pond water aquarium project!

“Beaks, Feet, and Feed”  – Why do birds have different feet, beaks, feed and habitats?  Get a seed feeder kit assembly to take home.

“Beavers, Dens and Dams” – Learn about beavers, how they make their dams, and the impacts they have on water retention. Build a simulation dam project and water impact experiment!

Kinder-Pavilion – (Ages 5 and under) Similar topics as above but geared to a younger age group.

You don’t need to be registered for the birding festival to attend this family friendly, kid focused day of activities at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
Park admission is FREE.
Check in at the children’s registration booth for a complete schedule of  activities and games that make learning fun.


Volunteer at the Family Nature Festival:

If you like kids and have an interest in helping kids learn about their environment, we could use your help!  We need 10-12 volunteers for 4 hour commitments on Saturday April 25th from 9AM to 1PM.  If you would like to help kids learn, please call Kathleen Green at 480-759-0001.

Volunteer at the Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival

Contact Chris Jensen, Volunteer Coordinator, via email for specific volunteer interests or positions OR register as a Friends Volunteer and select “Birding Festival” as your interest by clicking here.



Birders Paradise Bed and Breakfast

Located in Camp Verde, this is a birders paradise and a unique place to stay during the festival.

Contact the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce for information on hotels in the area. Some hotels offer discounts to festival-goers. Please ask when you make your reservations. We encourage you to check with advertisers in the booklet.

Click the link below to get a pdf list of area accommodations.

Accommodations PDF Format: Click HERE


Camping is available at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Sites include a table and grill. Water and showers are available. Campsites can be reserved online or by calling the reservation call center. Their is a $5.00 non-refundable fee for each camp site reservation. Hook-up sites with electricity are $25 and $30.00 per night. Non-hookup or tent sites are $15 per night.

Check for availability with the park immediately upon your arrival. Camping fees are paid directly to the park. Please check for any changes in the fees. The park also has cabins to rent within a short walk to the River Day Use area. These must be reserved in advance.

Call the park at 520-586-2283 for cost, availability and reservations.

To contact the park for other information please call 928-634-5283.

Vendors & Exhibitors

This is the 20th annual celebration of this major birding celebration! The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival is a well-loved event that draws people from all over the USA and from local and regional centers. Exhibitors are always a popular part of this festival. This year, a variety of Exhibitors will be joining us on Saturday, April 24th 2021 for the Family Nature Festival.

Interested in being an Exhibitor at VVBNF? All the documentation and applications you need are linked below. For purposes of our Festival, an “Exhibitor” is a not-for-profit organization or government agency and does not sell items at the Festival. We are not accepting for profit vendors on site this year. Please contact us regarding Virtual Vendor opportunities on our website.

Exhibitor Application

Submit all applications checks to: Friends of the Verde River, Attn: VVBNF. P O Box 2535 Cottonwood, AZ 86326

Questions? Email Dennis Tomko.

Featured Exhibitor

Featured Exhibitor – Jay’s Bird Barn

The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival, alongside Friends of the Verde River, is excited about our ongoing partnership with Jay’s Bird Barn! Jay’s brings premier birding supplies to Northern Arizona, including top-of-the-line binoculars and spotting scopes, field clothing, backyard wild bird products, field guides, and more. Jay’s Bird Barn will have all this and more for sale at the Festival.

Catch Jay’s Bird Barn Thursday-Saturday all day in the big tent, and go home with a new pair of binoculars, a birding vest, or a gift for a nature lover in your life.

Exhibitor Schedule 2021




Saturday, April 24

9am – 1pm

RDU-Reg. Tent

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