Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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Birds by the Numbers

The Great Texas Birding Classic goes statewide this year.

By Louie Bond

Birders, whether they’re beginners fumbling to focus their binoculars or seasoned veterans who hop in their car to chase a rare bird, take great pleasure in adding new species to their lists. Add a bit of friendly competition, and the desire to see new birds grows to a fever.

The cure? A solid month of competitive birding with the new and improved Great Texas Birding Classic, back in force this year with new aspects sure to spice up the competition.

In 2013, there will be 42 different categories for participants, and the weeklong contest expands to an entire month, April 15 through May 15. Plus, the contest moves beyond the coast to include the whole state.

“This is a big change from previous years when there was only one week with specific dates allowed for each tournament category,” says tournament director Shelly Plante. “Teams now have the ability to plan a time that fits their schedules and needs and, when they have flexibility, allows them to select their date within that month based on weather patterns and when the birds are most likely to be seen.”

New categories include State Park Tournaments (within a park’s boundaries for the day), Regional Big Day Tournaments for every age and every area of the state, and Statewide Tournaments for teams wishing to travel far and wide throughout the state. There’s a Sunrise to Noon Tournament for teams that might want to focus on only a few sites nearby, have mobility impairments, want to bird as a family for a half-day or like the challenge of a shorter length of time. There’s a category for just about every situation.

It’s easy to get started, even if you’re new to birding. The comprehensive website at www.birdingclassic.org has information on how to participate and which tournament is best for you, as well as tournament and sponsorship tips and advice.

You can get a team together simply by finding a few family members and friends who want to join you. Everyone can pitch in to pay the registration, or you can find a sponsor. Then you can pick the category and the dates you want to go. A few more details and you’re on your way.

April 1 is the registration deadline for participating teams, so don’t delay!

Birding Classic proceeds will be used for nature tourism and avian habitat conservation and enhancement projects in Texas. These grants will likely include a nature tourism grant, a state parks grant and a non-TPWD grant to a conservation project selected by some winning teams and TPWD staff. Since the Great Texas Birding Classic started in April 1997, team registration fees and sponsorship dollars have contributed to $789,500 in donations to avian habitat conservation on the Texas coast.


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For more on Texas birding, check out our Bird Watching Page.


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