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good chickadee e1598912445738Written by Susan Himes, Susan.Himes@ag.tamu.edu

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service announced registration is open for the 2021 Birding the Border event.

The event will take place April 29 -May 2, starting with a kickoff social the evening of April 29 at Val Verde Winery.

Del Rio will host the event, which will feature birding trips to a mix of private, restricted-access and public lands in Kinney and Val Verde counties.

The cost of registration is $50 and includes seminars, which will be held April 30-May 1 at the Del Rio Civic Center and feature AgriLife Extension experts. There are also spouse-of-birder passes available to allow participants to bring a plus one to the seminars and social events. If you prefer to register by phone, call Teri Gaston at 830-278-9151 ext. 283.

During the registration process, participants may also choose from one of five different daily birding trips, including a photography-focused course. Cost ranges from $100-$145 and day trips will be led by experts and professional guides. There is also a track offered for novice birders.

“We were disappointed when our 2020 event had to be canceled due to COVID-19,” said Emily Grant, AgriLife Extension agent for Vale Verde County. “However, we will have had a year to prepare and adjust and should social distancing and other guidelines still be in place, we will be equipped to abide by all rules and regulations while still being able to offer our participants an amazing experience.”

What to expect

There will be a Birds, Bats and Owls benefit dinner April 30 at Kickapoo Cavern State Park. On May 1, the Birding the Border dinner with feature professional photographer and birder Dorian Anderson. Other fun planned social events include Birds and Beer with Birding Lotería at Mesquite Creek Outfitters.

“Most of the properties that we would have visited in 2020 are signed up again to host us,” said Maureen Frank, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, Uvalde. “Private lands are essential to wildlife conservation, especially in Texas, and it’s such a privilege to visit these places.”

Frank said just like in previous years, this event will give participants the opportunity to see many different species.

“In addition to birding along the U.S./Mexico border, participants will bird along the border of three different ecoregions,” Frank said. “Participants may choose from trips to a range of habitats including those in the Edwards Plateau, South Texas Plains and the Chihuahuan Desert.”

Grant said some of the species targeted will include golden-cheeked warblers; black-capped vireos; Morelet’s seedeaters; varied, indigo and painted buntings; and tropical parulas.
“Since the group size for each tour will be limited, we encourage people to register as soon as possible to ensure they are able to get the trips they want,” Grant said.

Carolina Chickadee photo courtesy of B. Calk