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Great Texas Birding Calendar

Year-Round Events

Spring Migration

Audubon Birdathon! Statewide. Participants count birds and collect pledges from sponsors based on the number of species they see. Money raised goes toward support of Audubon conservation initiatives. Free. (512) 306-0225; tx.audubon.org/events/birdathon.htm

King Ranch Nature Tours, Kingsville. King Ranch offers a variety of guided nature tours throughout the year, showcasing general wildlife, birdwatching, butterflies and dragonflies, or native plants. For information, contact the King Ranch Visitor Center, P.O. Box 1090, Kingsville 78364-1090. Cost varies. (361) 592-8055; www.king-ranch.com.

Ornithology Group Meetings, Bayland Community Center, Houston. Birding programs at monthly meeting. 1st Monday August - May (2nd Monday in September and January). Monthly and quarterly field trips to local birding hotspots. Meetings: 6:30 p.m. Learning Corner, 7 p.m. Program. Free. (713) 939-9375; www.ornithologygroup.org.

First Saturday each month

A Big Thicket Experience, McAfee Nature Center, Woodville. Special birding events offered. Entrance location at 1080, County Rd. 1010 in Woodville. 10am. Small fee charged. (409) 283-2333.

Second Saturday each month

Beginners’ Bird Walk, San Antonio Audubon Society. Introduces newcomers to birding in the San Antonio area. About two hours easy walking; some binoculars to lend out. Meet at Judson Nature Trails, Alamo Heights, San Antonio: Site 098 on HOTE trail map. 8 a.m. (7:30 a.m. in June, July, August). Free. (210) 308-6788; www.saaudubon.org.

Third Saturday each month

Botanical Gardens Bird Walk, San Antonio Audubon Society. Early entry to the Botanical Gardens with a leader to explore the various birdy areas of the gardens. Meet at San Antonio Botanical Gardens, 555 Funston Place at N. New Braunfels Ave., San Antonio. 7:45 a.m.-10 a.m. Free. (210) 308-6788; www.saaudubon.org.

Beginning Bird Talk & Walk, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco. 45-minute “Birding 101” talk covering equipment, ID help, resources, etc. followed by a bird walk in the park. 8:30 a.m. $2.50/adult, $1/child under 12. (956) 969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org.

Fourth Saturday each month

Mitchell Lake Bird Walk, San Antonio Audubon Society. This outing is a combination of walking and driving around the dikes that separate various ponds and the lake of this refuge. The various habitats provide as many as 60 species in a single site. Check Web site for other access times. Meet at Mitchell Lake Refuge; gate is 0.7 mile south of Loop 410 at Moursund Blvd, exit 46, San Antonio. 8 a.m.-noon. Free. (210) 308-6788; www.saaudubon.org.

Sundays during Fall and Spring Migrations

Guided Bird Walks, Galveston Island State Park. Sunday morning guided bird walk of the various habitats of Galveston Island State Park, led by local birders. Begins at park headquarters. 8:30 a.m. $3/person, State Park Pass Holders no cost. (409) 737-1222; www.FoGISP.org.

February

Feb. 25 - 27

Celebration of Whooping Cranes and Other Birds, Port Aransas. Annual birding festival features renowned speakers, guided boat trips to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, guided shorebird bus tours, nature-related trade show, workshop and field trip. A great opportunity to see and learn more about the endangered whooping crane and birding in general. $20/person. (800) 45-COAST; www.portaransas.org.

March

March 15 - April 15

Hawk Watch, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Alamo. The Hawk Watch is an annual survey of migrating raptors. Observations are done from the levee station from 7 a.m. - noon daily. Hawk watch training is Saturday, March 13. Free. (956) 784-7500.

March 20

Frontera Audubon Field Trip, North 77/Sarita area with Arroyo Colorado Audubon Society. Sack lunches and cold drinks are provided. Bring your binoculars, cameras, field guides, notebooks, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent. No registration fee, but participants are responsible for transportation and entry fees as needed. Group size limited; call to register. (956) 968-3275; www.fronteraaudubon.org.

March 21, 27, April 4, 10, 17, 24

Yellow Rail Walks, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Guides lead participants through salty prairie habitat in search of yellow rails. Bring waterproof boots, binoculars, drinking water and mosquito repellent. Vigorous walking through difficult terrain. 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/refuges/texas/anahuac.

March 21 - May 9

Houston Audubon High Island Sanctuaries open for migration. Known worldwide for the spectacular variety of spring migrants that stop over to feed and rest there, these sanctuaries will open with volunteer staffing seven days a week at Boy Scout Woods Sanctuary. Nearby Smith Oaks Sanctuary contains a heron rookery where visitors get close views of nesting herons, ibis, egrets and spoonbills.

$5/day pass; $20/season patch.

www.houstonaudubon.org.

Tuesdays, March 23 - May 11

Lunch with the Birds, Russ Pitman Park, Bellaire. Guided birding walks in Russ Pitman Park (7112 Newcastle, Bellaire). noon - 1 p.m. Free. (713) 667-6550; www.naturediscoverycenter.org.

March 25 - 28

Texas Tropics Nature Festival, Holiday Inn “Holidome” Civic Center, McAllen. Nature Festival including field trips to nature and birding destinations, seminars and a trade show. (877) 622-5536; www.mcallencvb.com.

March 27

Piney Woods Wildlife Society Field Trip, Texas City Prairie Preserve, Galveston Bay. Led by Mike Beathard to hear Attwater’s prairie chickens booming and see spring migrants. For more information, email field trip coordinator at dandewild@ev1.net.

April

Weekly, Wednesday - Saturday

Guided Bird Walks, Goose Island State Park. 7:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. $2/person park entry fees. (361) 729-2858; www.tpwd.state.tx.us.

Every Weekend

Bird Walk, 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. 8 a.m. Free. (361) 991-9031; www.ccbirding.com.

April 1 - 4

Galveston FeatherFest 2004, Galveston Island. Galveston hosts more than 300 species of birds during spring migration. Seminars, field trips, workshops, exhibits. Check Web site for pricing. (409) 762-3930; www.galvestonfeatherfest.com.

April 2 - 4

Bird Habitat Weekend, Lajitas. Using the combined facilities of the Barton Warnock Environmental Center, Big Bend National Park, Lajitas Bird Sanctuary and other nearby facilities, this weekend of workshops and field trips will focus on bird habitat and rare bird documentation. (432) 424-3327.

April 3

Frontera Audubon Field Trip, South Padre Island/Laguna Atascosa NWR. Sack lunches and cold drinks will be provided. Bring your binoculars, cameras, field guides, notebooks, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent. No registration fee, but participants will be responsible for transportation and entry fees as needed. Group size limited; call to register. (956) 968-3275; www.fronteraaudubon.org.

April 3 - 4

Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Festival, Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, Eagle Lake. Join us for Attwater’s prairie chicken viewing tours, refuge tours, various birding tours, nature booths and more. Free. (979) 234-3021; southwest.fws.gov/refuges/texas/attwater/.

April 7

Lecture/Slide Presentation, Nature Discovery Center, Bellaire. “Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and other Piney Woods Birds” by Jerry Walls. 7 p.m. Free.

(713) 667-6550;

www.naturediscoverycenter.org.

April 9 - 30

Houston Audubon Birdathon. Patterned after the way runners or walkers get support for marathons, teams of birders form to collect pledges from corporations, friends and neighbors based on the number of birds they expect to see, in order to raise money for Houston Audubon’s mission of conservation of birds and their habitat. Sign up on the Houston Audubon Web site: www.houstonaudubon.org.

April 10

Guided Nature Trail Hike, Village Creek State Park, Lumberton. Two-hour, two-mile hike through mixed pine/hardwood forest and bottomland forest of the Big Thicket. Appropriate clothing, shoes, water and insect repellent are recommended. $2/person park entry fee. (409) 755-7322.

April 13 - 18

Nature Quest 2004,Concan. In the heart of the Texas Hill Country, the Texas River Regions offer great birding and outdoor opportunities. Excellent programs, guided field trips and great fun highlight this weekend. (800) 210-0380; www.thcrr.com.

April 16

A Big Thicket Experience, McAfee Nature Center, Woodville. Birding in 70 acres of woodlands and open area, youth activities, formal lecture and/or slide show for adults. 10am. Small fee. (409) 283-2333.

April 16 - 18

10th Annual Migration Celebration, San Bernard NWR, Lake Jackson. Activities include hands-on activities for kids, live animals and birds, tours, talks, bird banding, butterflies, free flying falcons and raptors and animal tracks. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Free. (888) 477-2505; www.refugefriends.org.

April 17

Piney Woods Wildlife Society Field Trip, Sabine Woods, High Island. Led by John Lineri and Pat Collins to see spring migrants. For more information, e-mail field trip coordinator at: dandewild@ev1.net.

April 17

Spring Bird Walk, Sea Rim State Park and Sabine Woods. Birders in search of the Golden Triangle’s many spring migrants will enjoy this boardwalk tour starting at Sea Rim State Park’s Willow Pond Trail and continuing to Sabine Woods. This field trip is especially suited to beginning birders and anyone unable to walk over uneven terrain. 7:30 a.m. Park entry fee waived for participants.

www.goldentriangleaudubon.org.

April 17 - 25

Great Texas Birding Classic, Texas Coast. Weeklong birding tournament for youth, adult and mixed-age teams, with opening event in Beaumont and awards brunch in Port Aransas. $51,000 in coastal habitat conservation money, as well as individual prizes, awarded to winning teams. Cost varies. (888) 892-4737,

ext. 2; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/gtbc.

April 23

Spring Migration Birding Trip - Nature Discovery Center, Bellaire. Led by Fred Collins, visit Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, High Island and possibly Rollover Pass. Bring your lunch; coolers, water and soda provided. 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. $50/person. (713) 667-6550;

www.naturediscoverycenter.org.

April 23 - 25

Birding in the Big Thicket, Kountze Middle School, Kountze. A birding celebration with speaker sessions on beginning birding, photography, hummingbirds and more. Tours to surrounding areas: Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, High Island, Sea Rim State Park and Sabine Woods. Children’s workshops with hands-on projects, workshops on field guides and binoculars. Prices vary. (866) 456-8689; www.kountzecoc.org.

April 24 - 25

11th Annual Bluebird Festival, Wills Point. Arts and crafts, games and food and educational booths are set up throughout the streets of downtown. Driving tours afford festival attendees access to hundreds of bluebirds and nesting boxes lining the roads into town. (800) WPBLUBI; www.flash.net/~junction/festival.htm.

April 24

Brush Country Birding Walks, historic Park Hotel, Tuleta (Bee County). Interpretive birding walks in native flora of deep South Texas, improved and primitive areas. Daylight to dark. $2.50/person Short Trail; $5/person Long Trail. (361) 375-2558; www.beeville.net/parkhotel.

April 24

Spring Migration Birding Tour, Fennessey Ranch, Refugio County. Guided full field day birding over 4,000 acres of marshes and uplands. Lunch included. $48.50/person. (361) 529-6600; www.fennesseyranch.com.

April 25 - 30

Audubon Texas Avian Art Series Unveilings, various galleries statewide. Texas artist Billy Hassell showcases a preview of his newest work in Audubon’s limited edition series. Receptions to be held at five galleries throughout the state during the week of April 25, birthday of John James Audubon. Call for times and cost. (512) 306-0225.

April 26

Bay City Nature Club Spring Bird Count, Bay City and Matagorda County. This annual event offers volunteers the opportunity to help Bay City Nature Club members count the number of birds arriving during the spring migration. All-day event. Free. (800) 806-8333; www.mcbnc.org.

April 30 - May 2

1st Annual Chappell Hill Bird Fest, Chappell Hill Historical Society Museum, Chappell Hill. Coinciding with the peak of spring migration, the Bird Fest will have field trips, a children’s presentation involving several raptors, afternoon presentations, and nature-related booths. (979) 277-1122; www.chappellhillbirdfest.com.

April 30 - May 2

Audubon Birdathon! Central Texas, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge (near Austin). Audubon Birdathon event in conjunction with the annual Balcones Songbird Festival. Birding experts will be on hand to help make your Birdathon more successful. (512) 306-0225; tx.audubon.org/events/birdathon.htm.

April 30 - May 3

4th Annual Texas Songbird Festival, Lago Vista. Located 35 miles northwest of Austin, this festival includes opportunities to view the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo on birding walks, as well as programs, a trade show and other events. (888) 328-LAGO; www.lagovista.org.

May

May 1

Spring Migration Birding Tour, Fennessey Ranch, Refugio County. Guided full field day birding over 4,000 acres of marshes and uplands. Lunch included. $48.50/person. (361) 529-6600; www.fennesseyranch.com.

May 1

Frontera Audubon Field Trip, Edinburg Wetlands. Sack lunches and cold drinks will be provided. Bring your binoculars, cameras, field guides, notebooks, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent. No registration fee, but participants will be responsible for transportation and entry fees as needed. Group size limited; call to register. (956) 968-3275; www.fronteraaudubon.org.

May 1

Ninth Annual Southeast Texas Spring Migration Extravaganza, Martin Dies Jr. State Park, Jasper. Event includes guided boat birding tours; reservations required. 8 a.m. $10/person. (409) 384-5231; www.tpwd.state.tx.us.

May 12

Audubon Texas Speakers Series, Houston. National Audubon Society wildlife experts and other distinguished guests present topics of environmental interest. Free. (512) 306-0225.

May 14 - 16

Dragonfly Days 2004, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco. Nature festival focusing on the odonates of South Texas. Come join experts on field trips, seminars, keynotes and lots of opportunities to see birds, butterflies and, of course, dragonflies! (956) 969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org.

May 15

Piney Woods Wildlife Society Field Trip, Sabine and Angelina national forests. Led by Ro Wauer and Peter Loos to see spring butterflies and nesting neotropicals. Trails are poor to nonexistent, so be prepared for rugged terrain. E-mail field trip coordinator at dandewild@ev1.net.

Date TBA

Audubon Texas Speakers Series, Fort Worth. National Audubon Society wildlife experts and other distinguished guests present topics of environmental interest. Free. (512) 306-0225.

June

June 12, 26

Guided Nature Trail Hike - Village Creek State Park, Lumberton. Two hour, two mile hike through mixed pine/hardwood forest and bottomland forest of the Big Thicket. Appropriate clothing, shoes, water and insect repellent are recommended. $2/person park entry fee. (409) 755-7322.

July

July 15 - 18

Brownsville International Birding Festival, Brownsville. Showcasing and exploring the summer birding of Brownsville and both sides of the Rio Grande through field trips, seminars and related activities. The festival offers a pelagic trip into the Gulf of Mexico to add land, shore, and marine birds to your lists. Cost varies. (800) 626-2639 or (800) 776-1895; www.audubonBrownsvilleinternationalbirdingfestival.org.

August

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. Observers count birds from a 20-foot tower, which is situated at the southwestern tip of a sharply tapering peninsula. Up to 22 species are seen. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Free. (979) 480-0999; www.hawkwatch.org or www.gcbo.org.

Aug. 19 - 22

Davis Mountains Hummingbird Festival, Fort Davis. Includes seminars, workshops, field trips of local birding sites and great hospitality as you look for as many as nine species of hummingbirds. General birding and bird banding will also be featured. (512) 321-1256.

September

Sept. 6 - early December

Beginning Bird ID Series, Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. Designed for beginning birders, 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. 7 p.m. - 9:15 p.m. Prepaid registration of $75/person by

Sept. 2. (361) 852-2100;

www.ccbotanicalgardens.org.

Sept. 11

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. 16 - 19

Hummer/Bird Celebration, Rockport-Fulton High School, Rockport. Experience the fall migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds and more with field trips, bus trips, programs, lectures, boat trips and vendor booths showing avian-related products. Cost varies. (800) 826-6441; www.rockport-fulton.org.

Sept. 18 - 29

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

www.heardmuseum.org.

Sept. 23 - 26

Celebration of Flight, Hazel Bazemore County Park, Corpus Christi. There will be mini-talks and presentations on raptors, volunteers on hand to help find and ID the hawks, and a blessing of the site by local Native Americans. The true stars of this event are the hawks, and you might see up to 100,000 hawks in a single day. Free. (361) 241-2617; www.ccbirding.com.

October

Oct. 2 -3

Texas Wildlife Expo, Texas Parks and Wildlife headquarters, Austin. 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. 14 - 17

Texas Butterfly Festival, Rio Grande Valley, Mission. Observe species with world-renowned experts and field guides while you visit butterfly hotspots around the tropical Rio Grande Valley. Other activities include canoe trips, a Butterfly & Nature Expo, Seminars, ID workshops, plus much more. Cost varies. (800) 580-2700; www.texasbutterfly.com.

Oct. 16

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

Oct. 23

Brush Country Birding Walks, historic Park Hotel, Tuleta (Bee County). Interpretive birding walks in native flora of deep South Texas, improved and primitive areas. Daylight to dark. $2.50/person Short Trail; $5/person Long Trail. (361) 375-2558; www.beeville.net/parkhotel.

Oct. 23

Big Day, Corpus Christi and Texas Coastal Bend. Big Day is a non-competitive birding competition designed to introduce novices and newcomers to birdwatching. $25/person, $250/sponsored teams. (361) 442-9437; www.ccbirding.com.

Date TBA

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

Date TBA

Wild in Willacy 2003: A Nature Odyssey, Raymondville and Port Mansfield. Birding field trips include airboat rides into the otherwise inaccessible sloughs of the Laguna Madre Bay, boating safari across the Laguna Madre to the northern tip of South Padre Island and access to private ranches. Other events feature a children’s program, butterflies, native Texas plants and history of the area. (956) 689-3171.

November

Nov. 10 - 14

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, Harlingen. Festival features more than 60 guided field trips to locations, seminars, workshops, and evening lectures. Birder’s Bazaar with over 65 vendors is free and open to the public along with a free children’s program featuring hands-on activities. Cost varies. (800) 531-7346; www.rgvbirdfest.com.

Nov. 13

4th Annual Family Day, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Activities include hands-on activities for kids, live animals and birds, tours, talks, bird banding, butterflies, displays, fishing demonstrations and animal tracks. Free. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (979) 849-6062; www.southwest.fws.gov/refuges/texas/texasmidcoast/index.html.

Date TBA

South Texas Wildlife and Birding Festival, Kingsville. The festival will include workshops and seminars, birding tours, vendors and exhibitors. Free. (800) 333-5032; www.kingsvilletexas.com.

December

Dec. 3

Fifth Annual Open House and Christmas Sale, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory Sanctuary, Lake Jackson. Come by the GCBO headquarters for refreshments and browse the Nature Store for gifts for children, adults and yourself. That day will also be a special tax-free shopping day. 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Free. (979) 480-0999; www.gcbo.org.

Dec. 14 - Jan. 5

Audubon's Christmas Bird Count (CBC), statewide. This 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, and local contacts vary with region. Sign up to take part or learn more about the CBC at their Web site. $5/person. www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/index.html.

Dec. 18

Christmas Bird Count, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Alamo. For more information, call (956) 784-7500.

December - March

Birding Field Trips, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco. Come join us on guided birding excursions to hotspots in the Rio Grande Valley. We carpool from the VNC. Most trips $5, others according to trip. (956) 969-2475;

www.valleynaturecenter.org.

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