/ Modified jul 24, 2013 4:13 p.m.

AZ Nature Festivals Can Boost Local Economy

Birding events in Tucson, Sierra Vista attract visitors from around the state and country.

Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival:


Southern Arizona's summer's high temperatures and humidity may not seem like an ideal time to venture outdoors, but naturalists say it's a great time to explore the surroundings.

July and August brings a couple of nature festivals, as the monsoon season is considered great for bird watching.

The Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista runs from July 31 through August 3. Organizers say the event is the longest running nature festival in Arizona, which will celebrate its 22nd anniversary this year.

Gordon Lewis, board member of Southwest Wings, says after more two decades, they must be doing something right.

“We have a lot of different programs down there that cover a range of topics: weather, geology and birds of course,” Lewis says.

Thomas Miscione, another board member, says most of the event is free and open to the public. There will be talks, presentations, and live animals.

The annual event is an economic boost to the area, because it also attracts visitors from out of state. Those tourists spend money on hotels, car rentals, restaurants and other activities.

Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival:


For those interested in birding, the annual Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival takes place from August 14-18.

This festival will include family friendly workshops, guided tours, programs, a nature expo, and a keynote speaker.

Event coordinator Erin Olmstead says the desert gets really green this time of year, due to the summer rainy season, which leads to better visibility of special species of birds that breed during the monsoon months.

“During this time of year, Tucson basically gets a second spring,” Olmstead says.

In southeast Arizona, there are about 200 possible bird species in the area, according to Olmstead.

“We are sitting in one of the very best birding destinations in the entire United States,” she says.

Similar to the Sierra Vista festival, Olmstead says the annual event in Tucson is a great boost for the local economy.

Ashley Grove is a journalism student and an intern for Arizona Public Media

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