I don’t go to many birding festivals. They cost money and they attract crowds. I’m not a big fan of crowds. But I make an exception every year for the Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival, held right here in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. In fact, not only do I go to the festival, I’m a volunteer.
You enjoy the birds in your backyard. Birding field trips crowd your calendar. But have you ever participated in a birding festival? Getting together with other enthusiastic birders for an entire weekend is a terrific way to learn more about birds, add species to your life list, and have a thoroughly enjoyable experience. You’ll want to come back year after year!
There are many places to look for birds in the Pikes Peak region. Take a hike around a mountain lake. Stroll around a mountain lake looking and listening for returning summer residents. Enjoy a hike in the aromatic junipers and scrub oaks of a foothill riparian area. Go higher in elevation and see what birds call the montane forests their home.
Birding and Nature Festivals are springing up all over the country. Start in January at the Wings Over Willcox Birding & Nature Festival in Arizona, or the Morro Bay Bird Festival in California, and continue to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival and New Mexico’s Festival of the Cranes in November—if you have the airfare and the time, you can spend an entire year flitting from festival to festival, returning home just in time for the Christmas Bird Count.
I’ve learned the lesson once again. If you stay home, you won’t get any photos. If you go out, you may still come up empty handed—or you just might be surprised.
The forecast was for snow and cold, but Lake Pueblo State Park was celebrating their 15th Annual Eagle Days. We couldn’t miss that! So I layered a jacket over a sweatshirt over a thin turtle-necked top over long underwear, piled about 30 pounds of camera gear into my pick-up, threw in a ham sandwich, hat, gloves, binos, field guide, and notepad, and headed south.
As I drove through the quiet early morning streets, I eyed the clouds boiling over the mountains to the west. I figured that the odds for getting photos worth keeping were pretty low but at least I’d enjoy the day with some birding friends.
Like most people, I used to associate our state with mountains, skiing, and aspen. But now, mention Colorado and I think of prairies, cowboys, and most of all, hospitality.
My focus changed because of the town of Karval. With Pikes Peak barely visible on the horizon, this tiny town in Lincoln County, an hour east of Colorado Springs, doesn’t fit the typical person’s image of a vacation destination. Yet, I had a wonderful time there.
You have to have a reason to search out Karval. In my case, I was eager to attend their Mountain Plover Festival, held yearly at the end of April.