Sandra Schenone presents a lecture about Gila Monsters April 26 as part of the annual Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival which runs April 24-27 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood. Learn facts and fictions about these charismatic venomous reptiles from an experienced reptile enthusiast; Sandra’s educational talk will be complete with a real, live Gila Monster along with his close relative: the Beaded Lizard, for participants to see up close. Sandra’s expert with these misunderstood reptiles — over at ASU she’s the supervising animal technologist and training coordinator at the Department of Animal Care & Technologies.
Read more about this festival and register online at birdyverde.org; this year’s theme is “Celebrate the Art of Birding,” and highlights include the chance to meet Greg Miller (A-list actor Jack Black portrayed him in the film “The Big Year”). the ‘BirdyVerde’ festival offers a wide range of events and classes onsite, plus field trips guided by experts to Montezuma Well, Page Springs, hotspots around Prescott, Tavasci Marsh (that’s right at Dead Horse Ranch State park) and Clear Creek. ‘Armchair Birding’ sessions for less ambulatory participants are beneath the towering cottonwoods just a three-minute scenic wheelchair roll from the festival’s big white tents. Choose from evening owl prowls, or a trip to Sycamore Canyon (described as “intense birding”) guided by David Moll. Eric Moore teaches a ‘Lunch & Learn’ session on Birding Basics; intermediate-advanced birders can hone their skills at ‘Watching Warblers’ with Homer Hansen. The festival is particularly family-oriented Saturday-Sunday, and welcomes beginners who’d like to get into birding. Kathe Anderson (a popular Scottsdale bird walk guide and educator who leads walks at Boyce Thompson Arboretum and the Gilbert Riparian Wetlands) leads a bird walk specifically for beginners April 26; or join engaging naturalist Marceline VandeWater (another name familiar to readers as a BTA bird walk guide) for ‘A Taste of Birding,’ described as “casual-to-moderate, short walks meant for those who have never experienced bird watching.