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Safford Field Office
Release Date: 12/18/13
Contacts: Diane Drobka, 928-348-4403,    
  Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture toll-free 1-800-200-2272    

Birds and Birders Flock to Willcox in January

Willcox, Ariz. It’s that time of year again … the Wings Over Willcox Birding and Nature Festival (WOW) is only a month away. The 21st annual event – Arizona’s only winter birding festival – begins on Wednesday, January 15, and continues through Sunday, January 19. Tickets are going fast and some tours are sold out, so reserve your seat now!

This year’s keynote speaker, Bill Thompson III, is the editor and co-publisher of “Bird Watcher’s Digest,” America’s longest-running magazine for birders. His Saturday night banquet presentation will feature “The Perils and Pitfalls of Birding,” a humorous narrative about the many mistakes, accidents, and embarrassing situations he has experienced in his 30+ years as a birder.  Those who would like to have personal time with Thompson and get one of his autographed books can sign up for the Friday night dinner at Coronado Vineyards.

Overnight tours depart Wednesday, providing extra time for birders to compile a long species list for the weekend. A trip to the Muleshoe Ranch, cooperatively managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Coronado National Forest, and The Nature Conservancy, includes a three-mile hike. The overnight Chiricahua Montane Specialties tour traverses this world-renowned birding locale covering sites up to the estimated 7,000-foot snowline.

Daylong tours include photography tours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Other daylong tours include A Naturalist’s Saunter in Chiricahua National Monument; Wetlands, Woodlands, and History; Cochise Stronghold and Sunsites Specialties; and Habitat Sampler.

Sparrow Seeks and Hawk Stalks are available as full-day, half-day and mid-day tours. Other half-day tours include Owls by Day, Ft. Bowie History and Geology, Kansas Settlement Agriculture, Working Cattle Ranch, Willcox Walking History, Flora of Texas Canyon, Beginning Birding, and Easy Birding Sampler, which is a fully accessible tour. There is even a Spanish language tour: Observación de las aves para principiantes (tour en español).

Are you a “morning person” that’s up before the dawn? Then join the Sunrise Sandhill Crane tour that departs for Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area at 6:00 a.m. If you prefer an afternoon outing, the Wine-Tasting tour might be for you.

In addition to guided tours, there are dozens of free seminars, starting with talks before and after Thursday night’s Welcome Reception. These cover a wide range of natural history topics: snakes, lizards, damselflies, dragonflies, frogs and other amphibians, sandhill cranes, vinegaroons, butterflies, wildlife photography, bats, and snails. Another will explore the history of the Willcox Playa.

WOW is also a very family-oriented event with opportunities for kids to learn more about nature. Live animal exhibits include hawks, owls and falcons as well as many species of snakes. Nestbox-building classes will be offered on Friday and Saturday. So gather your friends and family and join us at Wings Over Willcox on January 15-19, 2014.

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: 12-18-2013