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owlWritten by Susan Himes, TAMU

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be holding a multi-day workshop for beginning birders Oct. 23-25 in Del Rio. Learn to Bird will feature focused birding trips lead by professional guide Bryan Calk and educational presentations by AgriLife Extension faculty. Space is limited to 11 participants.

Maureen Frank, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist in Uvalde, and Emily Grant, AgriLife Extension agent for Val Verde County, created Learn to Bird in response to feedback from the AgriLife Extension Virtual Birding Seminar.

“One of the comments we got during our seminar was, ‘I need to work on my birding so I can attend the Birding the Border event next year,’” said Frank. “So, we wanted to give people an opportunity to do just that. There are tricks and tools for new birders to get started, but the best way to learn is to have a good teacher. In this new program, participants can learn from a professional guide and some awesome volunteers.”

The registration fee of $330 includes lodging, meals from dinner Oct. 23 through lunch Oct. 25, field trip transportation and guide fees.

Birding activities planned

Learn to Bird will be hosted on the McKenna Ranch in northern Val Verde County, said Grant, where the Hill Country meets West Texas. Participants will be “glamping” in cabins on-site.

“McKenna Ranch is a beautiful property with a great variety of birds. I’m excited to go owling because during our last trip we got great looks at two different species, the western screech-owl and eastern screech-owl,” Frank said. “I’m also excited because we should be there during monarch migration. And our trip to Devils River State Natural Area will allow us to enjoy monarch butterflies as well as different species of birds.”

Nighttime owling will be among the activities of the Learn to Bird workshop.

The schedule is as follows:
Oct. 23, 6-8 p.m. — Welcome dinner and Birding 101.
Oct. 24, 8 a.m.-noon — Focused birding and bird identification.
2-4 p.m. — Classroom presentations on Backyard Bird Management and Basics of Birding Photography.
After dark — Owl identification.
Oct. 25, 8 a.m.-noon — Focused birding and bird identification.

Master Naturalists interested in advance training hours should consult their Advance Training Committee for approval. Frank recommends the course be worth 12 advance training hours. She may be reached via email with any questions.