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4/22/2014 2:54:00 PM
The Art of Birding: Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival April 24-27
Red-tailed hawk
Red-tailed hawk
Green-winged teal
Green-winged teal

COTTONWOOD - Held on the last full weekend of April, Verde River Valley Nature Organization (VRVNO) presents the 14th annual Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival April 24-27 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park attracting birders, fledgling birders and even non-birders to Central Arizona's spectacular and natural wonders of the Verde Valley. The Verde Valley's pleasant climate, open spaces, diverse vegetation, abundant wildlife and a riparian environment along the Verde River that is a major migratory flyway, provides a multitude of birding and recreational opportunities unrivaled by few in Arizona.

Knowledgeable guides lead you to birding hot spots and secret hideaways, traveling to the edge of canyons, walking along desert streams or visiting bird friendly backyards. From learning about butterflies to birding for the blind, there is space available in several educational workshops and field trips. For schedule information and to register, visit www.BirdyVerde.org. Although there is on site registration available, it is best to secure your spot by registering on-line before the start of the event. You can also sign up to be a birding festival volunteer on the website.

This year's theme is The Art of Birding. The joy experienced while birding can sometimes be hard to express. The photographer or artist that can express visually and poetically what is felt is often envied. As part of honoring the artist, the popular A River Runs Thru Us exhibition is being shown under the big tent throughout the festival. The Verde River Artists' Challenge, a three-day, two-night kayaking excursion on the Verde River resulted in works of art created by the participating local artists and has been traveling throughout Arizona for the past year.

The festival's keynote speaker, Greg Miller, highlights cinematic art of birding. Greg's presentation is a selection of stories about how he got started birding with his dad, how he came to do a big year, how his story became a book by Mark Obmascik, "The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession," and eventually the movie, The Big Year, starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin, and what it was like to be a bird consultant for the film.

To complete his big year, Greg zigzagged across the continent trying to see as many species of birds in one calendar year as possible - traveling 130,000 miles while holding down a full time job. Tickets to the keynote dessert reception on Friday, April 25, are available in advance at the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce and Jay's Bird Barn in Sedona. The cost is $20. Prior to Greg's presentation, a free showing of the movie The Big Year at the Cottonwood Recreation Center begins at 4:30 p.m. The reception immediately follows at 6:30 p.m.

The illustration for the festival's promotional materials, inspired by a field trip to Stoneman Lake in the early summer of 2013, is the creation of Cottonwood artist Wendy Harford. During the Family Nature Fair on Saturday, April 26, Wendy offers art activities for the young creator.

Coinciding with the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival, Jerome Art Walk members are merging art and birds with a challenge to construct masterpieces of their own theme and personality from the same basic birdhouse kit. The birdhouses are being sold at Spook Hall in Jerome on Saturday, April 26. Visit the festival website at www.birdyverde.org.

The Verde Valley Nature Organization is raising awareness of our natural resources by providing recreation, education and nature tourism events that support the stewardship of the Verde River Valley. For more information and to see other events managed by VRVNO, visit www.VRVNO.org and "Like" Verde River Valley Nature Organization on Facebook.

Related Links:
• Blog: Visitors flock to Verde Valley for birding


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