Varied landscape has lots to offer

The Ute Mountain/Mesa Verde Birding Festival, which concludes this weekend, is a great example of low-impact economic development. Out-of-town birders, who often have deep pockets (and have to, since really good binoculars are pricey, and chasing life birds across the country or around the world can be extremely expensive), stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants, and look for local birds and rare avian visitors.

Birding this week should have been a positive experience, as unseasonably warm weather has moved migratory birds northward and upward ahead of their usual schedule. Southwest Colorado is a birding hotspot because it has such a mix of habitats, from high deserts to high mountain forests and the riparian areas surrounding streams and reservoirs. Local birders have county lists of 200 or more, and some of those birds, like the Lucy’s warbler, can be extremely elusive.

Welcome, birders, and good birding to you.

And kudos to the Cortez Cultural Center for finding a niche that Montezuma County can fill so well.