The natural and cultural history of Southeastern Colorado will be on display May 16-19 in Bent County.

The four-day Bent on Birding Festival will center on birding, wildlife-watching and the cultural heritage of the area throughout Bent County. Birders also will be able to get an insider’s view of some of the most spectacular private ranch land in Colorado. More than 400 species of birds have been documented in this area.

The schedule of events includes:

Thursday Tour #1

12 p.m. Free interior tour of historic John Martin Dam (limited space).

3 p.m. Tour of historic courthouse rooftop.

5 p.m. Welcome reception, appetizers, cowboy meal, and movie.

6 p.m. evening birding seeking Black Rail, night birds

Friday Tour #2

7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Birding/photography tour event with expert guest and guide Jill Smith to lakes, ponds and private areas. Seeking rare Piping Plover, Least Tern.

Friday Tour #3

8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Petroglyph/Birding/wildlife tour to two private ranches.
6 p.m. Join dining guests at Carmans. Door prizes. Evening birding.

Saturday Tour #4

8 a.m. John Martin Dam area. Auto tour to Hicklin Springs Petroglyphs, Picketwire River. Family activities: Birdhouse building and more (bring your own lunch).
1 p.m. Live Raptor Center Bird Show.
6 p.m. Join dining at Bents Ft Inn. Silent Auction. Movie. Evening birding.


7-9 a.m. Early birding Ft. Lyon campus.

9 a.m. LA Cafe break followed by Birding Local Trails or more options.

For complete schedule or to register, email or call 456-0485, 456-1320 or John Martin State Park at 829-1801.

“Bent on Birding provides an extraordinary opportunity to observe birds and wildlife in the amazing environment of the area’s canyon lands,” said John Koshak, former Colorado Parks and Wildlife Watchable Wildlife coordinator. “Participants have a rare invitation to tour some ranches with amazing petroglyphs and meet the landowners whose management has protected our wildlife and wildlife habitat for generations.”

Festival guides will host organized trips that will give birders a chance to see sought-after birds such as the least tern, piping plover and black rail, along with eagles, ferruginous hawks and other native songbirds, shorebirds, raptors and waterfowl. The tours will wind along the Colorado Birding Trails, along the shores of John Martin Reservoir and on some of the most spectacular private-land wildlife habitats in Southeastern Colorado’s cattle ranching and canyon country.

In addition to organized birding and wildlife outings, organizers also have lined up tours and movies that feature birding, historic, archaeological and cultural sites, such as prehistoric petroglyphs along the Purgatoire and Arkansas rivers, Colorado’s "most beautiful historic courthouse, and the National Historic sites of Boggsville (historic home of frontiersman Kit Carson), Bent’s Old Fort and Sand Creek Massacre Site. Homes of "Gunsmoke" actor Ken Curtis, Ambassador Thompson, and Pikes Monument (first known sighting of Pike’s Peak) are also in the area. Other options are an interior tour of John Martin Dam, a program by the Pueblo Raptor Center and building birdhouses.

There also will be history, food and entertainment events in Las Animas all weekend.

The events are co-sponsored by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Historical Society, John Martin Reservoir State Park, Supporters of Colorado Preservation and Bent on Birding.

Bent on Birding is one of several cultural celebrations during the Southeast Colorado Heritage Festival. At Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, the National Park Service hosts daily guided tours. Other historic sites from La Junta to Lamar have museums and cultural activities.

For more information about Colorado Parks and Wildlife