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Safford Field Office
Release Date: 10/25/12
Contacts: Diane Drobka, 928-348-4403,    
  Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, 1-800-200-2272    

Wings Over Willcox Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Come Join the Fun - January 16-20, 2013

Willcox, Ariz.  The Wings Over Willcox (WOW) Birding and Nature Festival will mark a milestone in 2013 – it will be the 20th anniversary for this ever-popular event.  To celebrate, WOW planners have added new tours, seminars, and special events.  The festivities begin on Wednesday, January 16, and run throughout the weekend with the Willcox Community Center as the hub of activities.

Complete information is available online at, where registration can be completed, or by calling 1-800-200-2272.  Tours are filling fast, so don’t delay!  “Early Bird” registration and tour discounts end December 31.

Tours begin on Wednesday, January 16, with two overnighters, one to the Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area in the Galiuro Mountains and a new tour to the Chiricahua Mountains.  There are two other new tours this year:  Cochise Stronghold & Sunsites Specialties, and Apache Pass Geology.

Have family members or friends not interested in birding?  They can still come to WOW and enjoy one of the many non-birding tours.  These include geology, history, mining, photography, winetasting, astronomy, botany, farming and ranching tours, as well as a visit to the huge Eurofresh greenhouses. 

A Welcome Reception officially begins the festival at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday with seminars before and after it.  The reception will include light snacks, drinks, and live music by Pat Watson.  It’s a special opportunity to meet WOW tour guides and speakers.  As a prelude to the reception, visitors are invited to join WOW sponsors for a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at the golf course pond at Cochise Lake.

More free seminars – definitely worth the drive to the festival – are presented through Saturday evening; eight are new this year.  Special for this year, WOW will be feature the film Green Fire, Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time on Sunday.

Friday evening will feature an intimate and elegant dinner at the Coronado Vineyards, a local winery, with Saturday-night banquet keynote speaker Kenn Kaufman.  Kaufman’s talk will focus on his birding adventures in Arizona and around the world, to show that the most exciting things about birding today are the same aspects that will make it even more amazing in the future.  He will also offer a unique perspective on why the Willcox area is the best place in the world to go birding in mid-January.

The festival is the perfect opportunity to see the winter migrants that visit Arizona, including an estimated 34,000 sandhill cranes that were counted in January 2012.  More than 100 species of birds have been observed during prior WOW weekends and, to challenge tour participants, the festival is sponsoring a contest to look for some of the 100 southwestern birds that were described before 1900.  All have been seen at previous festivals, half of them in eight or more years during the past decade.

Birders can capitalize on opportunities to see these birds by signing up for guided tours.  Tours cover a diversity of habitats including desert grasslands, ponds, woodlands, and mountains. 

The free Nature Expo, which includes live animals and many vendors selling art and nature-related items, begins at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday and ends at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.  In addition to the annual WOW poetry contest, there will be a new haiku contest.  Both have categories for adults and children.  Deadlines are provided on the WOW website.

If you didn’t get enough birding during the five-day festival, sign up for one of our post-event tours: San Blas, Jungle and Barranca or the African Birding Safari.

The Bureau of Land Management is one of two dozen WOW festival partners.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.

Last updated: 04-06-2015