The 19th Annual Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival Comes to the Verde Valley April 24th – April 28th and draws hundreds of bird and nature enthusiasts to the Verde Valley just in time to join the tens of thousands of birds that pass through on their annual Spring migration. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is the festival headquarters; with its Cottonwood/Willow Gallery Forest, Dead Horse is an inviting habitat for birds and birders. Executive Director Nancy Steele said “Friends of the Verde River is very excited to welcome the hundreds of birders that will visit the Verde Valley for this 19th annual festival. The annual migration is an exciting time for bird watchers, especially here in Northern Arizona. We’ve already begun to see an uptick in bird activity. Just this week I saw a Scott’s Oriole in my backyard!”

This year’s festival offers over 80 field trips and workshops. For beginning birders, there is Arm Chair Birding, where you can watch for birds from the comfort of a chair with one of Northern Arizona Audubon’s expert birders. Or you can look for birds as you walk along the Verde River Greenway with a guide. For more advanced birders or those who want to explore different places, there are many trips along the Verde River and Oak Creek. Some of this year’s field trips will take birders to the heights of Mingus Mountain, out to Sycamore Canyon, and to the lakes and peaks of Flagstaff.  With workshops ranging from the Art of Photography to the Secret Life of Bees, there really is something for everyone.

Keynote speaker, John Marzluff, will lead trips and present a talk about human’s effects on birds, including excerpts from his most recent book, Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans.

On Saturday April 27, from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., the Family Nature Festival will introduce families to the birds and animals that make the Verde Valley home. Kids of all ages can participate in hands-on science-based activities. In the afternoon, there will be kayak rides on the lagoon and a live bird exhibit with AZ Game and Fish Department. This Saturday-only event is free and open to the public.

This year we have something new with Food & Fun for the Birds, at Calavera Mexican Restaurant in Cottonwood on Saturday, April 27th.  Along with your tacos, you’ll be treated to a show by Jack Williams and Still on the Hill. Jack has been wowing folks with his superb guitar skills, singing, and story-telling for decades. Still on the Hill (husband and wife team Kelly and Donna Mullhollan) are award-winning story-telling song writers who love to share their talents, tales, and Ozark culture. Tickets are available for purchase in advance or at the door.

The Family Nature Festival is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and the Rural Activation and Innovation Network Grant (RAIN). The RAIN project intends to shift the perception of the integral nature of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) resources and opportunities available within the community. For more information on the RAIN Project, contact Kalman Mannis, Project Director at 

Friends of the Verde River, (Friends), is a purpose driven community benefit organization and 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  Friends envisions a healthy, free-flowing Verde River and tributaries that support our unique environment, a vibrant economy, and quality of life for future generations.