Bird watchers: 17th Wings Over Willcox festival, January 2010

Wings Over Willcox will be held once again in January (it’s on Martin Luther King weekend each year). This is a great opportunity to connect with other birding fans and to see some birds you can add to your life lists.

The Sandhill Cranes have been in Cochise County for more than a month, and they are wintering there on the Willcox Playa and in various places throughout the Sulphur Springs Valley, which stretches from Willcox south to Douglas. The cranes are a spectacular site. They cover a spot of land and are very noisy birds. Then when they take off, they are so cool watch! Here’s a picture taken by Diane Drobka, who works for the Bureau of Land Management.

Photo (c) Diane Drobka

You can still register for the birding and nature tours; they have a few spots left. You’ll need to hurry, though, if you want your first pick! The overnight to Mulehsoe Ranch Cooperative, owned by the Nature Conservancy, has been sold out since the first day! This has turned out to be a very popular part of Wings Over Willcox. Other tours like the excursion to area ghost towns sold out quickly too. I’m surprised the day-long photography workshops are not full yet. The workshops are a great opportunity to hone your wildlife photography skills!

New this year are the following workshops and tours:

  • Easy Birding Sampler–a slow and comfortably paced tour designed for birders with limitations of endurance or mobility. Per Homer Hansen, chair of Wings Over Willcox, this tour will feature a lift bus with guides that are experienced in leading tours. “We’re happy to be able to provide that,” he said.
  • Naturalist’s Saunter in Fort Bowie–a tour led by Vincent Pinto as he journeys into the incomparable beauty and diversity of Fort Bowie National Historic Site.
  • Texas Canyon and the Chiricahua Mountains: a geologic comparison–where you’ll observe similarities and differences between the rocks and discuss basic geologic concepts related to their origin and decay

The entire weekend has a terrific diversity of opportunities to commune with nature and experience birding and wildlife. And, you can learn about the local history. There’s also a beginning birding class offered in Spanish!

To find out more, visit the Wings Over Willcox website (complete with a soundtrack of sandhill cranes) and register. You can stay in Willcox or at the surrounding areas.

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