A ‘Born Again Birder’ And The Growing Interest In Texas Birding

Texas is home – or temporary home – to a huge variety of birds.

By Joy DiazMarch 9, 2021 1:11 pm, ,

Texas provides a home to a huge variety of birds – some temporarily, and some year-round. The state’s birders have an opportunity to enjoy the variety when the 25th annual Great Texas Birding Classic begins April 15, running through May 15. It’s a competition, sponsored in part by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

For some, birding is a lifelong passion. For others, it come later.

A love of birding takes wing by surprise

Christina Lokey is marketing director for the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau. When she first took the job a few years ago, she says she wanted nothing to do with birding. But she quickly changed her mind.

“Once you see a bird through binoculars, you’re able to see so many more defining characteristics from the actual feather patterns to different colors, styles of the beaks.”

“What’s exciting for us is that, Cattail Marsh, we’ve had a pair of bald eagles that have nested there for several years, they’ve actually undergone three different sets of what would be pregnancy, if you would. And so it’s kind of interesting because we’ve been able to watch their kids grow up. We’ve been able to kind of continue to watch them. And the nest itself… an actual human being can fit inside the size of this nest. So you have to understand that bald eagles make massive nests and they’re strong. They could hold the weight of a human being.”

“If birding isn’t something that you’re interested in it, maybe it’s nature journaling. Maybe it’s just getting outdoors and going for a walk. I think we all kind of need to be able to have those locations.”

How many species can you spot?

The Texas Birding Classic gives everyone the chance to look to the skies to see a variety of birds, from eagles to sparrows.

Shelly Plante manages the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Department of Nature-Tourism. She told Texas Standard that the Texas Birding Classic is a tournament for bird watchers, but that it offers options for beginners and experts alike. Registration fees support bird habitat conservation in Texas.

“The winning team is trying to see or hear as many bird species as possible,” Plante said.

The winners help select projects that will eventually receive funding from contest proceeds.

“A few years ago, we were giving about $20,000 in grants, and now we’re giving $35,000-$40,000 in grants,” Plante said.

Plante says interest in birding is up, during the pandemic, as people seek more ways to connect with nature.

The deadline to register for the Texas Birding Classic is April 1.

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