What to Know About the 2019 Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival

Sierra Vista and the surrounding areas are known worldwide for their bird watching and wildlife viewing areas. Thanks to the incredible biodiversity of the local sky islands of the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Madres, there are hundreds of bird species that can be seen around Sierra Vista during every season of the year. In fact, Sierra Vista is home to 15 species of hummingbirds, which often draw visitors to Ramsey Canyon Preserve for nature walks. During the 2019 Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, visitors from all over will gather to enjoy the unique bird watching opportunities that this part of the world has to offer. Events will take place from July 31st-August 3rd

There are several events during the festival for everyone to enjoy.

Most of the events in the festival are paid events requiring early registration to attend. However, last-minute locals may enjoy some of the free programs that will be offered during the weekend’s festivities. Here’s a closer look at all of the events that guests will be enjoying during the festival. 

  • Summer Festival Check-In – The first day of the event will be dedicated to checking in to receive ID badges, essential information, and a registration packet. All attendees must be registered prior to boarding field trip vans, which will leave promptly at their scheduled times, so you’ll want to be prepared with your ID badge.  
  • Field Trips – The biggest draw of the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival is the field trips that take you to scenic natural areas where you can see a variety of birds in their natural habitats. Field trips are rated by difficulty numbers, so visitors can find the appropriate outings for their abilities. Any overnight trips will include lodging and meals. Full day trips include a lunch. 
    • 1 – Easy walking with no hills or difficult terrain, primarily vehicle travel
    • 2 – Slightly vigorous walking—e.g., walking down a narrow river path
    • 3 – More difficult terrain and steeper grades, recommended for individuals in good physical shape
    • 4 – Most difficult terrain, steep grades and large elevation changes are likely. 
  • Keynote Dinner – The Keynote Dinner will take place on Thursday, August 1st at 5:30 p.m. During this special event, Sergio Avila will be the Keynote Speaker. He is a member of the Sierra Club, and he has been participating in Southwest Wings for several years. He has spent decades working as a conservation advocate in the local area, leading collaborative efforts on connectivity for wildlife, habitat restoration, public education and interpretation in the U.S. Southwest and northwest Mexico. 
  • Free Programs – In order to connect with locals and encourage greater stewardship of regional wildlife, the festival offers several free programs for all to attend. These lectures and talks are completely free of charge and require no early registration, so they are the perfect way to jump into the festival without prior arrangements. Some presentations are associated with field trips, which do require registration and payment. However, carpool arrangements may be made to tag along on these outings last-minute. All free programs will be located at Cochise College, and these will take place Wednesday through Saturday from early morning until mid-afternoon. 

You need an access badge for birding on Fort Huachuca. 

Some field trips during the festival will require entering Fort Huachuca, which will require an access badge secured ahead of time. If you do not have a state ID that is Real ID compliant, you will need to bring two forms of government-issued photo identification to gain an access badge. If you are registered for any events that do require Fort Huachuca access, you will be sent an email reminder ahead of time so that you can get to the Visitor Control Center to secure your pass. 

The Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival is just one example of the amazing events that take place during Sierra Vista all year long. As a resident of Sierra Vista, you will have a front row seat to the beautiful nature surrounding the city as well as easy access to events like this summer’s festival. 

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