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WEB On The Road HeaderIt's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman.

For the Rio Grande Valley, especially in Harlingen, it's a bird. The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is ready for blast off. Scheduled to begin on November 6, the festival will run through November 10.

During this five-day event, the festival expects to attract over 600 preregistered birders eager to go on professionally guided tours as they seek to add new birds to their life list of sightings. Avid birders come - not just from the Rio Grande Valley - but from all over the world. To add to this international mix, some of the professional guides are from Ecuador, Guatemala and Portugal with four coming from Mexico. The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival has truly become an international event.

This year, the festival will be headquartered at the new Harlingen Convention Center located at 701 Harlingen Heights Drive. Doors open at noon and close at 6 p.m. every day except on Sunday when the Festival closes at 4 p.m. Although there is a charge for seminars and field trips (tours) there is no entry fee to the Birders Bizarre.

At the Birders Bizarre there will be activities for youth and adults with seminars for those who wish to learn more about birding in the Rio Grande Valley. Vendors will be selling the latest in clothing and equipment for those outdoor excursions. Look for this year's tee shirt always featuring a different bird that can be found in our area.

Birders can be assured that there will be over 100 unique tours offered during the five-day festival. Six to eight buses will run daily tours. These buses will be augmented with vans to some of the destinations. Each bus will have at least four guides, giving eight to ten birders per guide – a perfect number for good birding. Vans will have no more than eight passengers per van and may have only one guide who acts also as the driver. If birding is being done along the way, then there will be an additional guide to help in spotting and identifying the birds. All in all, the festival will employ some eighty to ninety guides to provide the birders with exceptional service.

Whether you are a local or you are coming from far away, the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is something you just don't want to miss.

Roseate Spoonbills by Dan Jones

The whole operation is amazing and is organized completely by volunteers who are totally dedicated to making the venture a success. Planning for the festival begins in earnest in January but some say planning is actually year-round.Begun in 1994, the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival impacts the economy of Harlingen by some $3 million. Economists say that this ‘new money’ will be circulated at least three times. All of this comes from a very, very dedicated group of volunteers. Harlingen is truly blessed.

Not only is Harlingen blessed to have such a great group of dedicated volunteers, Harlingen is blessed to have three of the five bird flyways coming right through the Rio Grande Valley ... those three are the Mississippi, the Central and the Eastern flyways. And, of course, the best time to see the birds using the flyways is when they migrate from the cold north to the temperate climate of Central and South America. Early November is the perfect time.

Check the full article in this issue or go online to www.rgvbf.org for more information.