Times Spent Outdoors: Priceless!

Birding and Nature Festival at Dead Horse Ranch State Park on April 24-27

(Phoenix, AZ - April 18, 2014) - On April 24 - 27th, the Verde River Valley Nature Organization (VRVNO) and their partners will present the 14th annual Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival at Dead Horse Ranch State Park attracting experienced birders, fledgling birders and even non-birders to Central Arizona's spectacular natural wonders of the Verde River Valley. The Verde Valley's pleasant climate, open spaces, diverse vegetation, abundant wildlife and riparian environment along the Verde River, a major migratory flyway, provides a multitude of birding and recreational opportunities unrivaled by few in Arizona.

Knowledgeable guides lead you to birding hot spots and secret hideaways, traveling to the edge of canyons, walking along desert streams or visiting bird friendly backyards. From learning about butterflies to birding for the blind, there is space available in several educational workshops and field trips. For complete schedule information and to register, visit http://www.birdyverde.org. Although there is on-site registration available, it is best to secure your spot by registering online before the start of the event. There is still time to register for those special trips. You can also sign up to be a birding festival volunteer on the website.

This year's theme is The Art of Birding. The joy experienced while birding can sometimes be hard to express. The photographer or artist that can express visually and poetically what is felt is often envied. As part of honoring the artists, the popular A River Runs Thru Us exhibition is being shown under the big tent throughout the festival. The Verde River Artists' Challenge, a three-day, two-night kayaking excursion on the Verde River resulted in works of art created by the participating local artists and has been traveling throughout Arizona for the past year. The final showing will be at the festival.

The festival's keynote speaker, Greg Miller, highlights the cinematic art of birding. Greg's presentation is a selection of stories about how he got started birding with his dad, how he came to do a "big year", how his story became a book by Mark Obmascik, The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession, and eventually the movie, The Big Year, starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin, and what it was like to be a bird consultant for the film. To complete his big year, Greg zig-zagged across the continent trying to see as many species of birds in one calendar year as possible - traveling 130,000 miles while holding down a full-time job. Tickets to the keynote dessert reception on Friday, April 25th are available in advance through registration, at the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce and Jay's Bird Barn in Sedona. The cost is $20. Prior to Greg's presentation, a free showing of the movie The Big Year at the Cottonwood Recreation Center begins at 4:30 p.m. The reception immediately follows at 6:30 pm.

This year's featured art was inspired by a field trip to Stoneman Lake in the early summer of 2013 and is the creation of Cottonwood artist Wendy Harford. During the Family Nature Fair on Saturday, April 26th Wendy offers art activities for the young creator. Many other fun activities are included in the free Saturday event.

The Verde Valley Nature Organization is raising awareness of our natural resources by providing recreational education and nature events that support the stewardship of the Verde River Valley. For more information and to see other events managed by VRVNO, visit http://www.VRVNO.org and "like" Verde River Valley Nature Organization on Facebook.

For more information about Dead Horse Ranch State Park call (928) 634-5283. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is located adjacent to and across the Verde River from the community of Cottonwood. It is centrally located near several major population centers such as Flagstaff, Phoenix and Prescott. Tent camp sites to full hookup camping sites are available at a fee of $15 to $30 depending on the type of camping site needed. Cabins are also available for $55 but reservations must be made well in advance. Reservations for camping can be made 24-hours-a-day at AZStateParks.com or by calling (520) 586-2283 between 8am and 5pm (Mountain Standard Time) seven days per week.

For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703). Campsite reservations can be made online at AZStateParks.com or by calling the Reservation Call Center at (520) 586-2283. Open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST. Follow AZStateParks on Twitter and Facebook.


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