Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival

Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival

Thursday, Aug 1, 2019 at 6:00am


The Summer festival held in August is our big event with free programs, wildlife exhibits, vendors, guided trips and a keynote buffet. Southwest Wings is an educational celebration of the diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects, in their environment; the sky islands in southern Arizona.

Schedule of Events:

6:00 AM  -  4:00 PM: TA1 Sonoita-Patagonia Specialties

Join professional guide Laurens Halsey on a trip to the Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. The Preserve is one of SE Arizona’s best-known destinations for riparian birds. Stops will be made at the Preserve, Patagonia Lake State Park, Patagonia roadside rest stop, and Paton’s backyard in search of a wide-range of riparian and brushy grassland specialty species, hummingbirds, and possible Mexican vagrants. Search birds include Neotropical Cormorant, Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, Violet-crowned Humming and Rufous-winged Sparrow. Additional stops will be made in the Sonoita grasslands and oak savanna, south of the state park, time permitting. We will enjoy a picnic lunch in the shade somewhere along the way. Lunch is provided. This trip is best suited for beginner to intermediate birders. Closed-toed shoes and headgear are necessary for this field adventure. Hiking Difficulty: 3 moderate. Guide Laurens Halsey

​6:00 AM  -  3:00 PM: TA2 Fort Huachuca Birds and History

​Join Jennie MacFarland on a trip to historic Fort Huachuca. This active military base is rich in both American West history and SE Arizona avian specialties. Rarities like the Sinaloa Wren have been seen in Huachuca Canyon, and Northern Pygmy-Owl, Elegant Trogon and nesting Gray Hawks are here in good numbers. Tanagers, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, other Empidonax and Myiarchus flycatchers, warblers, including Painted Redstart, and other lower mountain residents are usually seen. This a fairly easy hike with a nice picnic area. The old veterans cemetery offers a nice rest stop with running water bathrooms. Lunch is provided. Hiking Difficulty: 2 easy. Guide Jennie MacFarland

6:00 AM  -  4:00 PM: TA3 Huachuca Mountains Sampler

Join guide Ken Blankenship as we explore a variety of habitats and their signature birds. First we’ll comb the oak-grassland foothills of Brown Canyon Ranch for Botteri’s, Cassin’s, and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Vermilion Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Cassin’s and Western Kingbird, Blue Grosbeak, and more. Next, we’ll enjoy sycamore lined riparian woodland in Ramsey Canyon, hoping for Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Elegant Trogon, Painted Redstart, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Mexican Jay, Western and Hepatic Tanager, Arizona Woodpecker, and more. After lunch (included), we’ll finish by hiking Miller Canyon into rich pineoak forest where we will search for Red-faced and Grace’s Warblers, Mexican Spotted Owl, Greater Pewee, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Brown Creeper, Steller’s Jay, and more. Lunch Included. Hiking Difficulty: 3, moderate. Best suited for intermediate birders. Guide Ken Blankenship.

6:00 AM  -  3:00 PM: TA4 Ash and Miller Canyon

Join professional guide and Ravens Way Nature Center Owner, Vincent Pinto, on a trip to the high country in the Huachuca Mountains with a walk up Miller Canyon. Miller Canyon is known to local birders as a reliable place to find nesting pairs of Red-faced Warblers and there may be a chance of a Mexican Spotted Owl. Other SE Arizona specialties including Scotts Oriole, Painted Redstart, Grace’s Warbler and Hepatic Tanager are all found here. This trip includes a stop at Ash Canyon B&B for up to 10 species of hummingbirds, including a chance of seeing the rare Lucifer Hummingbird, and other foothills birds. Hiking Difficulty: 4 difficult. Lunch is provided. Guide Vincent Pinto

​6:00 AM  -  3:00 PM: TA5 San Pedro River

​In 1995 the American Bird Conservancy named the San Pedro the first Globally Important Bird Area in the US and it is listed as one of The Nature Conservancy’s “Last Great Places”. The lush cottonwood/willow habitat the river supports is the largest and best example of riparian forest remaining in the Southwest. Flowing north from Mexico the undammed river is a critical oasis for hundreds of species of birds. This trip will visit Gray Hawk Nature Center and the San Pedro House feeders. The nature center is a reservation only facility so this is an opportunity to bird a portion of the San Pedro that boasts a property list of 251 species. Driving times will be short and the walking flat. Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, Vermilion Flycatcher, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Crissal Thrasher, Lucy’s Warbler await us under the dense shade of the towering trees. Lunch is provided. Hiking Difficulty: 2 easy. Guide Richard Bansberg

6:00 AM  -  4:00 PM: TA6 Las Cienegas

Join professional guide Robert Behrstock on a visit to what was formerly one of the Southwest’s largest cattle ranches. This expansive BLM National Conservation Area is home to Pronghorn Antelope, Prairie Dogs and a wide variety of birds. We will visit rolling grasslands, mesquite thickets and cottonwood-lined Cienega Creek, one of the area’s only sources of permanent water, looking for Zone-tailed and Gray hawks, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Bell’s Vireo, Lucy’s Warbler, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, Abert’s Towhee, and Cassin’s, Botteri’s, Song, Lark, Burrowing Owls and Grasshopper Sparrows. Lunch is included. Hiking Difficulty: easy. Guide Robert Behrstock.

​6:00 AM  -  4:00 PM: TA7 Chasing Rarities

​Join professional guide Matt Brown on an exciting day long excursion to see what's new or unusual in SE Arizona. This trip's destinations will be based on recent bird reports in the area as well as the needs of the group. With no pre-planned destination, Matt will be free to chase after what's available in any direction or location. The trip may include any of the areas covered by our regular trips and may try a new location to see what is available. Lunch is provided. Hiking Difficulty: 3 to 4 moderate to difficult. Guide Matt Brown

8:00 AM 12: 00 PM: TA8 Ramsey Canyon

Join professional bird guide and environmental educator, Jeff Babson, on a visit to the world famous Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains. Owned by The Nature Conservancy, this area has been a hot spot for birding for decades. The lower canyon is good for Montezuma and Gambel's Quails, Gila and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Rufous-crowned, Chipping and Botteri's Sparrows, Blue and Black-headed Grosbeaks, and other canyon outlet species. Ramsey Canyon is a reliable location to find typical montane riparian birds, plus specialties of SE Arizona. It is home to Arizona and Acorn Woodpecker, Hepatic Tanager, Grace's and Red-faced Warblers and Painted Redstart. Bring hat, water, sun protection, and wear trail shoes. Be prepared for a slow hike covering two miles with a steep 200-foot elevation gain. Hiking Difficulty: 4 difficult. Guide Jeff Babson

​5:00 PM  -  8:00 PM: Keynote Dinner Helen Thayer

WALKING THE GOBI - Quitting is Not an Option

At age 63 Helen with her husband Bill 74, walked the entire distance west to east across the Mongolian Gobi Desert. In a journey of discovery they covered a distance of almost 1,600 miles, enduring sand storms, 126 degree temperatures, and at one point a desperate search for water.

At 13 years old Helen set a goal to walk across the Gobi. A year before the expedition, after a serious car accident, she was told she would never walk again. She didn't give up; she fought through therapy and pain. Finally, still fighting injuries, she set out to realize her dream of crossing the entire desert on foot. Although still recovering, she kept going, even though some days pushed her to the limit.

7:00 PM 9: 30 PM: TP1 Night Sky

Join Naturalist, Wildlife Biologist and amateur Astronomer Vincent Pinto for an evening of exploration and intrigue in Nature.  Venturing to the lower Huachuca Canyons, Vincent will take you on a tour of the Constellations and visible planets as you meander through the grasslands and woodlands of the Huachuca foothills.  

Simultaneously, Vincent will attempt to find various species of Owls, listen for Nightjars as well as seek signs of area carnivores.  You will also seek some of the myriad of invertebrates active during monsoon season.  Further, you'll investigate various night-blooming plants.  Don't miss this nighttime Naturalist extravaganza! Guide Vincent Pinto

All Field Trips begin and end at the Cochise College Library.

Field Trip prices per person are:
Full Day $90
Half Day $45
Night $45
Overnight $250
Trips include all transportation and meals.