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2003 Great Texas Birding Calendar

Enjoy Texas' phenomenal birding at events throughout the state, all year long.

Year-Round Events

Audubon Birdathon! Statewide. Thousands of people nationwide join the Birdathon annually to count birds and raise funds for environmental conservation, education and advocacy. Participants count birds and collect pledges from sponsors based on the number of species they see. Counts can be done from a front porch or can cover dozens of miles, and participants are eligible for a variety of prizes. Free. (512) 306-0225; www.tx.audubon.org.

Beginners' Bird Walks and Monthly Mitchell Lake Field Trip, San Antonio Audubon Society. Beginners' bird walks: second Saturday of each month at 8 a.m., San Antonio Audubon Society trailhouse by the Alamo Heights swimming pool (7:30 a.m. June - August). Mitchell Lake field trip: fourth Saturday of each month, 8 a.m. San Antonio Audubon meets the first Thursday of each month, except May, at 7 p.m. at the Ruble Center. Free. (210) 308-6788; www.saaudubon.org.

Bird ID Series, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco. Classes are held indoors one Friday evening per month, followed by a field trip within the Rio Grande Valley the next morning. Each month focuses on a different bird group. Cost varies. (956) 969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org.

First Saturday of each month

Butterfly ID Walk, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco. A brief indoor introduction to butterflies and "butterflying" followed by a guided walk through the center's butterfly gardens. 10 a.m. $2.50/adult; $1/child. (956) 969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org.

Second Monday of each month

Birdwatchers' Club, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Learn about the natural history of birds in an informal discussion group. Share information on birding locations, books, films and other topics. 7-9 p.m. Free. (713) 681-8433; www.HoustonNatureCenter.org.

Second Saturday of each month

Native Plant Walk, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco. Learn about the many plants, shrubs and trees that make up the native habitat on this guided walk. 10 a.m. $2.50/adult; $1/child. (956) 969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org.

Third Saturday of each month

Beginners Bird Walk, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco. An introductory talk covering equipment, ID, birding sites and more, followed by a guided birding walk. $2.50/adult; $1/child. (956) 969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org.

September - May

Piney Woods Wildlife Society Meetings, Mercer Arboretum, Humble. This nonprofit birding and nature club holds monthly meetings every third Tuesday; field trips are scheduled for people interested in learning about birds and nature. 7:30 p.m. Free. (281) 444-8369.

March

March 15 - April 15

Hawk Watch, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. This is an annual survey of migrating raptors. Volunteers bring binoculars, keen eyesight and enthusiasm to the hawk watch station each morning of the month-long count. Free. (956) 784-7500.

Tuesdays, March 18 - May 20

Lunch with the Birds, Russ Pitman Park, Bellaire. Go on a guided birding walk through Russ Pitman Park (Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail site UTC 092) with an experienced birder. Binoculars are available for beginners. Noon-1 p.m. Free. (713) 667-6550; www.naturediscoverycenter.org.

March 27 - 30

Texas Tropics Nature Festival, Holiday Inn "Holidome" Civic Center, McAllen. This nature festival includes field trips, seminars and a trade show. (877) 622-5536; www.mcallenchamber.com.

March 29

Birding Tour, Village Creek State Park, Lumberton. Walk through the park and Cattail Marsh to identify bird species seen. 8:15 a.m.-noon. $7 (includes park entry fee). (409) 755-7322.

March 29

Kayak the Wetlands, Mad Island Marsh Preserve. Participants kayak Mad Island Lake while learning about wetland flora, fauna and ecology. Participating teachers receive water quality testing equipment. Free. (361) 972-2559; www.nature.org.

March 29 - April 19 (weekends only)

Yellow Rail Walks, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Bring waterproof boots, binoculars, drinking water and mosquito repellent. Vigorous walking through difficult terrain in salty prairie habitat. Meet at the Visitor Information Station; space is limited. Walks start at 7 a.m. or 4 p.m., depending on the day. Free. (409) 267-3337; http://southwest.fws.gov.

APRIL

Every Weekend

Birdwalk, Blucher Park, Corpus Christi. Audubon Outdoor Club of Corpus Christi members lead walks through Blucher Park and the expansive lawns of homes across the street from the park. Blucher Park is the site of large migrant fallouts during spring migration. 7:30 a.m. Free. www.ccbirding.com.

April 3 - 6

Galveston FeatherFest 2003, Galveston Island. This four-day event includes field trips to some of the top birding areas in the nation, seminars, nature art exhibits, a keynote address by naturalist Victor Emanuel and a host of other activities. (888) 425-4753; www.GalvestonFeatherFest.com.

April 12

Hummer Butterfly Festival, Texas City. This festival features continuous entertainment, nature walk at Sundance Gardens, butterfly exhibits, native plant presentations, arts and crafts and vendors. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. (409) 643-5993.

April 12

Attwater's Prairie Chicken Festival, Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, Eagle Lake. Wildlife viewing tours are available throughout the area; local artists display arts and crafts; information booths focus on natural history of the area. (979) 234-3021.

April 12

10th Annual Bluebird Festival, Wills Point. Arts and crafts, games, food and educational booths are set up downtown. Driving tours afford access to hundreds of bluebirds and nesting boxes lining the roads into town. (800) 972-5824; www.flash.net/~junction/festival.htm

April 12 - 13

Highland Lakes Wildflower Show, Buchanan Dam Community Center, The Red Barn. Native plants and wildflowers are on display, with members of the Highland Lakes Birding & Wildflower Society on hand to answer questions. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. (915) 379-1515.

April 13

Spring Migration Field Trip. Leave from Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Birding expert Bill Goloby will lead a trip to the coast in search of spring migrants. Transportation provided; space is limited. 7 a.m. $40/person. Preregister at (713) 681-8433; www.HoustonNatureCenter.org.

April 19

Spring Garden Festival & Plant Sale, Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens. Visit the bird and butterfly trail, birding tower and natural wetlands, shop for plant and vendor bargains and attend free gardening seminars. The 180-acre site is located on Oso Creek (Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail site CTC 067). Free. (361) 852-2100; www.ccbotanicalgardens.org.

April 23 - 27

Nature Quest 2003, Concan. Excellent programs and guided field trips highlight this weekend. (800) 210-0380; www.thcrr.com.

April 24 - 26

50th Anniversary of the Texas Ornithological Society, Port Lavaca. Highlights include field trips, bird programs and bird science presentations. $40/person. www.texasbirds.org.

April 25 - 26

Shorebird Ecology, Matagorda Island. Identify migrating shorebirds. Activities to reinforce identification and physical characteristics included during bird watching and in the evening with Dr. Wayne McAlister. $35/person. (361) 972-2559; www.nature.org.

April 25 - 27

Birding in the Big Thicket, Kountze Middle School, Kountze. Birding celebration includes workshops on photographing birds, birding on the Internet, field guides, binoculars, children's workshops and more. Tours to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, High Island and the Big Thicket. Cost varies. (866) 456-8689; www.kountzecoc.org.

April 26

Audubon Birdathon! Bay City. Participants will enjoy unique birding activities, including crash courses for beginning birders and an evening event hosted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Bay City. For more information on Birdathon, see entry in year-round events. Free. (512) 306-0225; www.tx.audubon.org.

April 26

International Migratory Bird Day, Stephen F. Austin Experimental Forest, Nacogdoches. Highlights include guided tours of the forest and Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area, bird banding demonstration, exhibits, and children's activities. Sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, Piney Woods Audubon Society and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. (936) 569-7981; www.srs.fs.fed.us/wildlife/trail.htm.

April 26 - May 4

Great Texas Birding Classic, Texas Coast. This weeklong birding tournament for youth and adult teams includes sanctioned events in Bay City, Chambers County and Weslaco throughout the week. Teams compete for $50,000 in coastal habitat conservation money, as well as individual prizes. Cost varies. (888) 892-4737; Great Texas Birding Classic.

May

May 2 - 4

Third Annual Texas Songbird Festival - Lago Vista. This festival includes opportunities to view the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo, as well as programs, a trade show and other events. (888) 328-LAGO; www.lagovista.homestead.com/l.

May 3

International Migratory Bird Day, Blucher Audubon Nature Center, Corpus Christi. Event includes workshops, Great Texas Birding Classic youth teams' competition, shade-grown coffee and a trade show. Free. (361) 885-6248; www.ccbirding.com.

May 10

International Migratory Bird Day, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory Sanctuary, Lake Jackson. Join staff and volunteers in celebrating birds with a morning field trip starting at GCBO, continuing to San Bernard and Quintana Sanctuaries. 8 a.m.-noon. Free. (979) 480-0999; www.gcbo.org.

May 10

International Migratory Bird Day Celebration, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Family-oriented activities include puppet shows, face-painting, games and crafts focusing on bird migration and habitat protection. Free. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (713) 681-8433; www.HoustonNatureCenter.org.

May 16 - 18

2003 Dragonfly Days, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco. Festival includes field trips, seminars, speakers and dinner. Learn about Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) as you enjoy the Rio Grande Valley's diverse flora and fauna. (956) 969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org.

May 27

Naturalist Certification Class: Birds of Texas, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Class will discuss the physical and behavioral adaptations of Texas' major bird groups. 7-9 p.m. $20/person. Preregister at (713) 681-8433; www.Houston NatureCenter.org.

June

June 7

Jones State Forest Field Trip. Leave from Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Local birding expert Bill Goloby will lead this trip, which will provide an opportunity to see and learn about woodland birds, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Transportation provided; space is limited. 7 a.m. $40/person. Preregister at (713) 681-8433; www.HoustonNatureCenter.org.

June 19 - 21

Awareness of Coastal Habitat, Mad Island, Texas State Marine Education Center and Matagorda Island. Identify and compare flora and fauna in four mid-coast habitats. Overnight trip to Matagorda Island is included, plus two boat trips. $50/person. (361) 972-2559; www.nature.org.

July

July 23 - 27

Brownsville International Birding Festival, Brownsville. Explore summer birding on both sides of the Rio Grande through field trips, seminars and related activities. Also offered is a pelagic trip into the Gulf of Mexico. Cost varies. (800) 626-2639; www.brownsville.org.

July 26

Coastal Habitats Field Trip. Leave from Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Local birding expert Bill Goloby will lead trip to explore the rich coastal habitats and birds that frequent them. Transportation provided; space limited. 7 a.m. $40/person. Preregister at (713) 681-8433; www.HoustonNatureCenter.org.

August

Aug. 15 - 18

Davis Mountains Hummingbird Festival, Fort Davis. Festival includes seminars, workshops and field trips to local birding sites. General birding and bird banding also will be featured. (915) 426-3202.

Aug. 15 - Nov. 15

Smith Point Hawk Watch, Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area. The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and Hawk Watch International conduct full-season raptor migration counts at Smith Point on Galveston Bay. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Free. (979) 480-0999; www.hawkwatch.org or www.gcbo.org.

September

Sept. 6

Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory Sanctuary, Lake Jackson. See hundreds of migrating ruby-throated hummingbirds stocking up on flower nectar or at feeders as they prepare for their southbound journey to the tropics. Nature store sales, speakers on hummingbird biology and gardening, hummingbird banding demonstration. Free. (979) 480-0999; www.gcbo.org.

Sept. 8 - early December

Beginning Birding ID Series, Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens. The 12 Monday evening lectures and six weekend field trips are led by birder and naturalist Gene Blacklock with the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program. Class maximum is 16 people. Prepaid registration, $75/person. (361) 852-2100; www.ccbotanicalgardens.org.

Sept. 11 - 14

Hummer/Bird Celebration, Rockport-Fulton High School, Rockport. Enjoy boat tours, bus tours, arts and crafts vendors, speakers on birds and wildlife, access to local yards to view hummingbirds. Cost varies. (800) 242-0071; www.rockport-fulton.org.

Sept. 13 - 14

Birds of Prey Festival, McKinney. Birds of prey programs by Heard Raptor Center of Texas, Texas Hawking Association and On the Wing Again. Flighted raptor programs by Last Chance Forever and guided walks on the grounds of the Heard Nature Center. (972) 562-5566; www.heardmuseum.org.

Sept. 25 - 28

A Celebration of Flight, Corpus Christi. See thousands of migrating birds of prey in a spectacle unmatched anywhere in the United States. Includes live raptor programs and short talks on raptor identification and migration. (361) 241-2920.

Mid-September - mid-November

Lunch with the Birds, Russ Pitman Park, Bellaire. Guided birding walk every Tuesday with experienced birder. Binoculars available for beginners. Noon-1 p.m. Free. (713) 667-6550; www.naturediscoverycenter.org.

October

Oct. 4 -5

Texas Wildlife Expo, Austin. Presented by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Expo gives visitors an opportunity to try out and learn about a wide range of outdoor sports and pastimes. The birding area offers tours, workshops and information about birding in Texas. (800) 792-1112; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/expo.

Oct. 5

Hawks at Smith Point Field Trip. Leave from Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Bill Goloby will lead this trip, which will include a sanctuary tour. Transportation provided, space limited. 7 a.m. $40/person. Preregister at (713) 681-8433; www.HoustonNatureCenter.org.

Oct. 8 - 10

Wild Walk Outdoor Adventure, Archer Park, McAllen. This is an educational program filled with nature-related arts and crafts, bird show, hands-on and interactive activities. $3/student. (877) 622-5536; www.mcallenchamberusa.com.

Oct. 11

Harvest Moon Birding Event, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory Sanctuary, Lake Jackson. Details to be announced. Free. (979) 480-0999; www.gcbo.org.

Oct. 16 - 19

Texas Butterfly Festival, Rio Grande Valley, Mission. Experts and field guides enhance a visit to butterfly hot spots in the Rio Grande Valley. Other activities include canoe trips, Butterfly & Nature Expo, seminars, ID workshops, and more. Cost varies. (800) 580-2700; www.texasbutterfly.com.

Oct. 18

Grapevine Butterfly Festival, Grapevine. Educational programs, activities and entertainment for all ages. (817) 410-3185.

Oct. 25

Project Prairie Birds Workshop, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory Sanctuary, Lake Jackson. A one-day sparrow identification workshop and field techniques course for the general public and interested volunteers. Volunteers recruited for the 2003/2004 winter field season Project Prairie Birds teams. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. (979) 480-0999; www.gcbo.org.

Oct. 31 - Nov. 3

Balmorhea Birdfest, Balmorhea. Explore private ranches and nearby Davis Mountains in search of desert, montane, water and wetland species. Speakers include well-known Texas birders who are Trans-Pecos experts. (915) 375-2325.

Date TBA

Wild in Willacy 2003: A Nature Odyssey, Raymondville and Port Mansfield. Field trips include airboat rides into the Laguna Madre, boating safari to the northern tip of South Padre Island and access to private ranches. Also, children's program, butterflies, native plants and area history. (956) 689-3171.

November

Nov. 5 - 9

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, Harlingen. Guided field trips to dozens of hotspots, afternoon seminars, all-day workshops and evening lectures. Cost varies. (800) 531-7346; www.rgvbirdfest.com.

Nov. 15

Coastal Bend Big Day, throughout the Coastal Bend. Each team is encouraged to include a novice or birding newcomer. Following the event are dinner, team prizes, door prizes, silent auction and raffles. 6 a.m.-6 p.m. $25/person. (361) 939-9964.

Nov. 21 - 23

South Texas Wildlife and Birding Festival, Kingsville. Guided tours focus on birding, wildlife, butterflies and flora. Speakers, demonstrations, exhibits, children's activities and a Nature Marketplace. Free. (800) 333-5032; www.kingsvilletexas.com.

Nov. 29 - 30

Birding Rockport Field Trip. Leave from Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Expert birder Bill Goloby will lead this weekend trip to Rockport, which will include a boat tour to see whooping cranes. 7 a.m. Cost covers transportation, lodging, guide fees, boat tickets and entrance fees. Space is limited. $210 (double), $235 (single). Preregister at (713) 681-8433; www.HoustonNatureCenter.org.

December

Dec. 6

Fourth Annual Open House and Christmas Sale, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory Sanctuary, Lake Jackson. Take advantage of a special tax-free shopping day and shop the Nature Store. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Free. (979) 480-0999; www.gcbo.org.

Dec. 13

Jesse Jones Winter Bird Count, Jesse H. Jones Park, Humble. Sponsored by the Piney Woods Wildlife Society. 7:30 a.m.; (281) 358-7028.

Dec. 14 - Jan. 5

Audubon's Christmas Bird Count (CBC), statewide. Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count is the world's largest all-volunteer bird survey, with more than 50,000 annual participants. Spend one day counting birds with a regional team. $5/person. Sign up to take part or learn more about the CBC at www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/l.

Dec. 15

Matagorda County Mad Island Marsh Christmas Bird Count, Matagorda County Birding Nature Center (Headquarters). Free. (979) 245-3336.

Dec. 27

Piney Woods Wildlife Society, Spring Creek CBC. North Harris and south Montgomery counties. Sponsored by the Piney Woods Wildlife Society, this covers a 15-mile diameter circle centered in The Woodlands at I-45 and Rayford-Sawdust Road. 7:30 a.m. $5/person. (281) 353-9170.

January 2004

Jan. 12 - early May

Advanced Birding ID Series, Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens. Designed for birders who have had one or more beginning courses, these 12 Monday evening lectures and six weekend field trips begin Jan. 12 and run through early May. Class maximum is 16 people. Prepaid registration $75/person. (361) 852-2100; www.ccbotanicalgardens.org.

February, 2004

Feb. 7 - 8

Eagle Fest, Emory. Go on a barge tour of Lake Fork to search for bald eagles. Festival also includes a fine arts and crafts show, birds of prey demonstrations, a night owl prowl and music. (903) 473-3913; www.eaglefest.org.

Feb. 27 - 29

Celebration of Whooping Cranes and Other Birds, Port Aransas. Celebrate the endangered whooping crane, which winters at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Other nature-related activities include birding trips by boat and bus, speakers, workshops, field trips and a juried trade show. $20/person. (800) 45-COAST; www.portaransas.org.

President's Day Weekend

Audubon's Great Backyard Bird Count, nationwide. Help Audubon and the Cornell Ornithology Lab track bird population trends from your own neighborhood. Perfect for novice or veteran. Free. www.birdsource.org/gbbc/toc_page.html.

March 2004

March 15 - April 15

Hawk Watch, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. This is an annual survey of migrating raptors. Volunteers bring binoculars, keen eyesight and enthusiasm to the hawk watch station each morning of the month-long count. Free. (956) 784-7500.

Date TBA

Audubon Texas Birdathon, Sabal Palm Sanctuary, Brownsville. Similar to Audubon's other Birdathons, this event includes a walking tour of the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary, where birders can find species not seen in other parts of the state. Free. www.tx.audubon.org.

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