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Wednesday August 4 - Friday August 6, 2021

Southwest Wings Festival will be offering a free, virtual, three-day program August 4-6, 2021, in conjunction with our self-drive car caravan guided field trips.

It will highlight an outstanding roster of speakers with a diverse range of topics that we hope will inspire and delight you! Some will be live streamed on Zoom (and also recorded for future viewing) and others will be pre-recorded and posted online for on-demand viewing at your leisure. Links to pre-recorded talks will be available from August 4, 2021.

Southwest Wings Birding Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. Will you help its mission to promote nature-based tourism and environmental awareness in southeastern Arizona? Because the natural world needs all the help it can get from caring people like you.


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Scott Weidensaul has spent decades studying bird migration.

He talks with us about his new book is A World On the Wing.

Limited viewing will be available here on-demand from August 4-21, 2021


"Scott Weidensaul's gripping journey alongside the world's feathered wanderers and the people who study them. ...Littered with such wonders...[it] rivals the astonishing feats of the birds he chronicles. ... As the birds flit through these pages, but with ever less frequency through our lives, we can only hope that birders and non-birders alike take inspiration and a call to action from A World on the Wing. This is the kind of book we've been waiting for."

--Christian Cooper, The New York Times




 Colorful Bird

Mark Hart


Online: Wednesday, August 4, 2021 at 11:00 AM Arizona Time (MST)


Beware Black Bears


The Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson fielded approximately 100 black bear-related phone calls in the summer of 2012, the year following the Monument Fire which devastated bear habitat on the eastern slope of the Huachuca Mountains. This presentation examines that worse-case scenario, as drought conditions may well drive more bears into contact with people in the Sky Islands this year. Birders who frequent the backcountry need to be especially “Bear Aware,” but so too do those who go to more accessible locations such as Madera Canyon. Learn about how to stay safe in Bear Country, and gain greater understanding of how Game and Fish manages this shy but curious species that can weigh-in at 400 pounds.

Mark Hart is a public information officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson. He serves as department spokesman for southeastern Arizona news media, and manages information and education programs throughout the region. Hart joined the department in 2009, and also serves as a public information officer for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. In addition, he is an agency representative to the federal Borderlands Management Task Force. Hart, a contributor to the Arizona Daily Star and a Best of Gannett award recipient, earned a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Loyola University of Chicago in 1981.

Alvaro Jaramillo


Online: Wednesday, August 4, 2021 at 3:00 PM Arizona Time (MST)

Birding Fast and Slow


As we know, birding can be immensely gratifying. As a pastime it is like a good hot sauce, it goes well with everything but there is a lot to it that we do not think about. A brain actually engages in different ways to identify a bird depending on whether you are new to birding or have been doing it for years. Learning about the brain and how we process birding information, can make birding easier, particularly bird identification. Some aspects of what we do as birders is reflexive, other aspects are deeply thoughtful and contemplative. There is a lot to birding, and perhaps what we forget is that it is a privilege to be connected with nature ... and it is also fun and absolutely wonderful for your health. Perhaps one day doctors will prescribe birding to people!

Alvaro Jaramillo, owner of birding tour company Alvaro’s Adventures, was born in Chile but began birding in Toronto, where he lived as a youth. He was trained in ecology and evolution with a particular interest in bird behavior. Research forays and backpacking trips introduced Alvaro to the riches of the Neotropics, where he has traveled extensively. He is the author of the Birds of Chile, an authoritative yet portable field guide to Chile’s birds. Alvaro writes the Identify Yourself column in Bird Watcher’s Digest magazine. Alvaro recently wrote part of the sparrow chapter for the Handbook of Birds of the World, and the new ABA Field Guide Birds of California. He was recently granted the Eisenmann Medal by the Linnaean Society of New York, awarded occasionally for excellence in ornithology and encouragement of the amateur. He organizes and leads international birding tours, as well as a full schedule of pelagic trips in central California. Alvaro lives with his family in Half Moon Bay, California.

Jillian Cowles


Online: Thursday, August 5, 2021 at 11:00 AM Arizona Time (MST)

Partnerships and Betrayal: Plant/Insect Interactions


Insects and plants have been evolving together for over 100 million years. Plants bribe, reward, and sometimes cheat their insect partners, while insects pollinate, protect, cultivate, and sometimes steal from their plant partners. Often the beneficiary of a partnership is an opportunistic third party. Some relationships can be exploitative, in which insects “commandeer” the growth of a plant, forcing it to provide special structures to house the insect’s offspring. Other relationships are true partnerships, so interdependent that neither party can survive without the other. In this presentation we will explore some of the these dramas, featuring a cast of cacti and bees, orchids, ants, and angel trumpets.

Jillian Cowles came to Arizona from Massachusetts at the age of 18 in the hopes of seeing a Gila monster in the wild. She rapidly fell in love with the desert, the big sky, the warmth, and best of all, the interesting variety of native plants and animals. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, she worked as a clinical microbiologist for almost three decades at what is now known as Banner University Medical Center, Tucson. In her spare time, she started to build a photographic database of the plants and animals of southern Arizona. Arachnids proceeded to hijack this project, and she now has a book out, Amazing Arachnids, published by Princeton University Press. And by the way, she did get to see not just one, but many Gila monsters since coming to Arizona. Some dreams really do come true.

Glenn Minuth

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Online: Friday, August 6, 2021 at 11:00 AM Arizona Time (MST)


Volcano Basics


(NOTE: This talk precedes a half day outdoor carpool Geology Field Trip the next day. Details here)


Did you know we have volcanoes in Cochise County? Here's your chance to brush up on your understanding of volcanoes. Glenn will review the basics about volcanoes, in terms of lava compositions and viscosity and their relationship with plate tectonics. Then delve in to how geologists classify volcano types--from those textbook cases across the world, to local examples in Cochise County.

Glenn Minuth is a 34-year career federal civil servant. His degrees are in geography with specialties in cartography, geomorphology, remote sensing, and geology. His research focused in the area of geomorphology and geology examining mound micro-relief (Mima-type mounds) on volcanic mudflows in the central Sierra Nevada foothills, California. He taught geography, weather & climate, and geology part time in Sacramento for seven years and has been a part time instructor in geography and geology for 20 years at Cochise College where he conducts field trips and lectures in the areas of military history, ecology, weather/climate, geography, and geology.

Rick Wright

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Online: Friday, August 6, 2021 at 3:00 PM Arizona Time (MST)


A Basic Birding Library for Arizona


Birds and books have always gone together, but never more so than now. We live in a golden age of ornithological publishing, and if you don’t have the shelf space and the budget to buy everything, the selection available—from field guides to family monographs to memoir and fiction—can seem overwhelming. What titles are essential to the birder in the American Southwest? Join Rick Wright for an informal “show and tell” to help you choose the best, most useful books to increase your birding knowledge and, more importantly, the pleasure the hobby brings you.

Rick Wright leads Birds and Art tours for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. Rick attended the University of Nebraska and Harvard Law School, and holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University. He and his wife, the medievalist Alison Beringer, used to live in Tucson before Alison's work took them to northern New Jersey. Rick's numerous scholarly publications include two books on the Latin animal literature of the later Middle Ages. He is the author of the ABA Field Guide to Birds of New Jersey and the ABA Field Guide to Birds of Arizona; his most recent book is the Peterson Reference Guide to American Sparrows.



To view at your leisure, please enjoy our 30th Anniversary Summer Festival pre-recorded program, including our recorded Guest Speakers' Zoom presentations. 


Available on-demand 24 hours a day, August 4-7, 2021. 

Come as you are, when you please 

Tiffany Kersten

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Birdie Big Year: Elevating Women Birders


This year Tiffany is on a mission to see 700 birds in the Lower 48 while working to make birding a safer space for women! Learn about about her experience with both the birds and the people - getting perspectives on women's safety in the outdoors from both men and women.

Tiffany Kersten is a 34-year-old professional bird guide and sexual assault survivor. She’s spending 2021 traveling, birding, and gifting personal safety alarms to women birders she meets on the trails along the way. She is the owner of Nature Ninja Birding Tours and is a Field Tech for Swarovski Optik Birding

Amber Morin

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Fort Huachuca Sentinel Landscape:

Understanding one of southern Arizona's best-kept conservation and restoration partnerships.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Department of the Interior (DOI) define sentinel landscapes as areas in which natural and working lands are well suited to protect defense facilities from land use that is incompatible with the military's mission. Once the Federal Coordinating Committee designates a location as a sentinel landscape, USDA, DoD, and DOI work with local partners to equip private landowners with the resources necessary to carry out sustainable management practices on their properties.

Fort Huachuca was designated a Sentinel Landscape in 2015 and is currently one of seven installations in the nation with this recognition. Find out what makes the Fort Huachuca Sentinel Landscape unique and why its designation is important not just for national defense, but for local economies and environmental sustainability.

Amber Morin worked for many years in the nonprofit conservation arena prior to her role as Program Coordinator of the Fort Huachuca Sentinel Landscape. She served as the statewide manager for Arizona's Natural Resource Conservation Districts and then as the Arizona Farm Bureau Business Development and County Manager. She is currently a freelance writer, podcaster, and social media consultant which helps in her role to help shed light on the Fort Huachuca Sentinel Landscape, its achievements, and its goals.

Angéline Fahey


Outdoor Cats and Birds

There is no doubt that the outdoor cat population is a serious concern for wildlife, so what can we do about it? This program will cover the active steps Southern Arizona is taking to reduce the overpopulation of free-roaming outdoor cats, and how the community can get involved in making a difference in the lives of cats and urban wildlife. We will address common concerns regarding outdoor cats, while also providing humane solutions for deterring cats from private properties to protect birds, other wildlife, and gardens.

Angéline Fahey is the Community Cat Program Manager for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, providing community assistance and education on the importance of spay/neuter and vaccinations for free-roaming outdoor cats, with the goal of dramatically reducing the outdoor cat population. Prior to this position, Angéline spent several years writing newsletters and developing an education program for Tucson Wildlife Center, presenting over 100 education programs on urban wildlife rehabilitation and coexistence throughout Southern Arizona. In her free time she enjoys singing and writing songs with her band, crafting jewelry, making art, and hanging out with her desert tortoise and rescue cats.

Stefany Boleyn

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Birding Kartchner Caverns State Park

The what, when, where, and why for all things birding at Kartchner Caverns State Park. Most people visit Kartchner Caverns to see the caves or the bats but the park has much more to offer. Three trails provide opportunities to explore and watch wildlife, especially birds, and this talk will look at all of the ways to go birding there and reveal some of the birds you might see.


Stefany Boleyn is a birder originally from Indianapolis. She is relatively new to SEAZ, but she has spent several years birding the area while visiting family. Stafany is a Park Ranger at Kartchner Caverns State Park and her move there comes after working as a naturalist at the Eagle Creek Park Ornithology Center in Indianapolis.

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