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'Plover Lovers' Flock To Eastern Colorado To Celebrate Rare Bird

Peter Pearsall
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
A Mountain Plover.

Every April, the Mountain Plover arrives on Colorado’s eastern plains. Despite its unassuming size and appearance, it draws plenty of bird watching enthusiasts to the tiny community of Karval for the annual Mountain Plover festival.

"Karval has a population of, I think, about 30 -- there’s not much out there," said Betty Snow, a bird watcher who’s attending the festival for her third time. "It’s interesting to go and connect with the people and the farmers, and listen to what they do, and why they have gone to lengths to conserve this bird."

There aren’t many places the Mountain Plover calls home, but the area near Karval -- which you’ll find approximately in between the towns of Limon and La Junta -- is one of them. During the festival, bird watchers are chauffeured in a school bus. In between bird and other wildlife sightings, local farmers and ranchers are on hand to talk about what they’ve done to increase habitat for the bird.

Interview highlights With Betty Snow

What’s It Like On The Bus When A Bird Is Spotted?

"Well, everybody rushes to that side of the bus. People have cameras, and binoculars, and cameras with scopes; we’ve had wildlife photographers, birders, and – they call them 'S-O-Bs' – spouse of birders, they come along too. And everybody’s just very congenial. You might see antelope, deer or whatever. And if you’re on the wrong side of the bus you just rush over to the other side."

Any Tips For First-Time Festival Attendees?

"They’ve thought of everything they can do to make our stay comfortable while we’re there. I was worried – I thought, well, we’re birding out in the boonies – where are we going to go to the bathroom? They have a truck that pulls two port-a-potties, and so the truck follows the school bus over the farmers’ land, and the port-a-potties are always there when nature calls."

The 2016 Edition Of The Mountain Plover Festival Runs April 29-May 1

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