Love Is In The Air As Mountain Plovers Arrive In Karval

A Mountain Plover in Karval, Colorado
Mountain Plover | Bill Bouton

Looking to escape the bustle of the city or warm up from the chilly temperatures lingering in the mountains? Awaken your inner bird nerd and head to Karval, a country town two hours southeast of Denver, for the annual Mountain Plover Festival. This weekend-long event celebrates the arrival of the love-minded mountain plovers, that come to Karval every spring to mate. It kicks off April 26, 2024.


Bird watchers will be treated to a playful courtship display. Male plovers soar high above the prairies, showing off their aerial talents while flapping their wings with the deliberate cadence of an amorous slow clap. They call to the females below with their sweet, sweet song that sounds like… cows mooing in the distance.


Female mountain plovers really go for it.

Mountain plovers in flight
Mountain Plovers | Aaron Maizlish

Building nests of simple scrapes on the ground, camouflaged by prairie grasses, mountain plovers employ a divide-and-conquer tactic. After the female lays her first clutch of eggs, the male incubates the nest. The female then lays a second clutch of eggs in a second nest, which she incubates. This reduces the impact of nest predation and ensures a greater yield of chicks.


Known in the birding community as “prairie ghosts,” dusty-plumed mountain plovers are masters of disguise. When danger is present, they freeze in place, blending into the dry prairie grasses as if donning an invisibility cloak. But fear not. Festivalgoers will enjoy ample opportunity to spectate and photograph these long-legged, insect-feasting birds.


Also on tap at the Karval Mountain Plover Festival are wildlife tours, western entertainment, home-style cooking, and country hospitality. For those looking to camp, sites can be found at Karval Reservoir, Kinney Lake, and Hugo State Park. Local families, farmers, and ranchers are opening their homes to people who prefer a warm bed to sleep in.


Check out the festival’s official website for more information:

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