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2006 Great Texas Birding Calendar

Compliments of the 2006 Great Texas Birding Classic sponsors. Roseate Spoonbill Sponsor: CONOCOPHILLIPS.

By Shelly Scroggs Plante

Year Round Events

Every Wednesday

Bentsen State Park Tram Tour — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Explore the park aboard the open-air tram, where you can enjoy nature in a relaxed atmosphere while your guide reveals the history of the park and its native flora and fauna. Reservations recommended. 8:30-9:30 a.m. Free with park admission. (956) 584-9156; <www.worldbirdingcenter.org>.

Every Saturday

Bentsen State Park Bird Walk — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Take a guided walk through the park where green jays, chachalacas, kiskadees, orioles and many other birds are frequently seen. Reservations recommended. 8-10 a.m. Free with park admission. (956) 584-9156; <www.worldbirdingcenter.org>.

Bentsen State Park Butterfly Walk — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Join a park naturalist and observe the diversity of colorful butterflies that are attracted to the park gardens. Several rarities are possible, especially from October through January. Reservations recommended. 1:30-3 p.m. Free with park admission. (956) 584-9156; <www.worldbirdingcenter.org>.

Saturday Morning Field Trips in Midland County. Midland Naturalists schedules birding and nature field trips every Saturday morning. Call for more information. (432) 770-4746; <www.midnats.org>.

First Thursday Each Month (January-November)

San Antonio Audubon Society Monthly Meeting — The Ruble Center, 419 E. Magnolia St., San Antonio. Interesting programs each month. The Ruble Center is east of McCullough between E. Huisache Street and E. Mistletoe Street. 7 p.m. Free. (210) 308-6788; <www.saaudubon.org>.

First and Third Saturdays of Each Month

Saturdays in the Park — Valley Nature Center, 301 S. Border, Weslaco. Experienced nature guides conduct walks through the park pointing out birds, butterflies, native plants and more. 1 p.m. $3/Adult, $2.50/Senior, $1/Child. (956) 969-2475; <www.valleynaturecenter.org>.

Fourth Saturday of Each Month

Monthly Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Field Trip — Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, San Antonio. A San Antonio Audubon Society member will lead the trip. The gate is located on the east side of Moursund Boulevard. 8 a.m. $5 fee. (210) 308-6788; <www.saaudubon.org>.

May

May 6

Trans-Gulf Migration Workshop — Kleb Woods Nature Center. This workshop will review the phenomena of trans-Gulf migration by migrant songbirds. It will include lecture, examination of study skins, a bird walk to see migrating birds and a one-hour lunch break on your own. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. (281) 357-5324; <www.pct3.hctx.net/parks.htm>.

May 13

Dragonfly Family Day — Valley Nature Center, 301 S. Border, Weslaco. Speakers and presentations on dragonflies, guided tours and crafts for the kids. $5/person. (956) 969-2475; <www.valleynaturecenter.org>.

Jones Park Bird-A-Thon — Jesse Jones Park, Humble. Join or form a team of birders and identify as many species of birds as possible during this fun event. Prizes awarded to several teams. 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Free. (281) 446-8588; <www.hcp4.net/jones>.

Marsh Madness — Lake Waco Wetlands. “Marsh Madness,” hosted by the City of Waco, Lake Waco Wetlands and the Central Texas Audubon Society, will focus on local birds and plants of the wetlands. Educational booths, nature hikes and guest speakers will be on hand to provide information and answer questions about local flora and fauna in the area. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. (254) 848-9654; <www.wacowater.com>.

May 13 - 14

Fennessey Ranch Photo Safari — Fennessey Ranch, Refugio. Fennessey Ranch and Sean Fitzgerald team to host a full day in the field photographing wildlife and the bird action in a huge rookery. Ibis, egrets and herons are the focus of the day. $204/person. (361) 529-6600; <www.fennesseyranch.com>.

May 19 - 21

7th Annual Dragonfly Days — Valley Nature Center, 301 S. Border, Weslaco. Speakers and presentations on dragonflies and guided tours to various Valley locations exploring dragonflies. Cost varies. (956) 969-2475; <www.valleynaturecenter.org>.

May 20

Warbler Woods Open Gate Day — Warbler Woods, Cibolo. Warbler Woods has a very active migration season, especially with the songbirds. 2005 had one day with 20 species of warblers and the property had 32 total warbler species last year! Painted buntings also nest on this 126-acre property’s varied habitat. Free. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (210) 658-0089; <www.warblerwoods.com>.

June

Every Second Saturday

Beginner’s Bird Walk — Judson Nature Trails, 246 Viesca, Alamo Heights. This regularly scheduled in-town birdwalk sponsored by San Antonio Audubon Society is especially designed for introducing new birders to the area. Loaner binoculars are available. Free. 7:30 a.m. (210) 308-6788; <www.saaudubon.org>.

June 5 - 9 and 12 - 16

Kids’ Camp 2006 — Valley Nature Center, 301 S. Border, Weslaco. Fun educational nature activities. Camp is divided into two weeks: First week for ages 6-8 and second week for ages 9-12. $80/non-member, $65/VNC member. (956) 969-2475; <www.valleynaturecenter.org>.

July

Every Second Saturday

Beginner’s Bird Walk — Judson Nature Trails, 246 Viesca, Alamo Heights. This regularly scheduled in-town birdwalk sponsored by San Antonio Audubon Society is especially designed for introducing new birders to the area. Loaner binoculars are available. Free. 7:30 a.m. (210) 308-6788; <www.saaudubon.org>.

August

Every Second Saturday

Beginner’s Bird Walk — Judson Nature Trails, 246 Viesca, Alamo Heights. This regularly scheduled in-town birdwalk sponsored by San Antonio Audubon Society is especially designed for introducing new birders to the area. Loaner binoculars are available. Free. 7:30 a.m. (210) 308-6788; <www.saaudubon.org>.

August 18 - 21

10th Annual Davis Mountains Hummingbird and Nature Festival — Fort Davis. Head to the beautiful Davis Mountains for five days full of field trips, private garden tours, hummingbird banding and lectures for birders and naturalists. Past years have recorded at least 10 species of hummingbirds during the event. $85/person pre-registration, $100/person after July 22. (432) 364-2499; <www.cdri.org>.

August 19

Texas Bluebird Society 2006 Summer Symposium — Wichita Falls. Features Keith Kridler, who has 40 years bluebirding experience and is co-author of Bluebird Monitor’s Guide. Silent auction plus lunch and refreshments included. Call for costs. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (940) 691-5702; <www.texasbluebirdsociety.org>.

September

Every Second Saturday, September-May

Beginner’s Bird Walk — Judson Nature Trails, 246 Viesca, Alamo Heights. This regularly scheduled in-town birdwalk sponsored by San Antonio Audubon Society is especially designed for introducing new birders to the area. Loaner binoculars are available. Free. 8 a.m. (210) 308-6788; <www.saaudubon.org>.

September 9

Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza — Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, 103 W. Hwy 332, Lake Jackson. See hundreds of migrating ruby-throated hummingbirds. Learn all about bird banding and how you can help protect migratory birds and habitats. (979) 480-0999; <www.gcbo.org>.

September 11 - early December

Beginning Bird ID Series — Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. Designed for beginning birders, 12 Monday evening classes (6:30-8:30 p.m.) and six fieldtrips are taught by acclaimed birder Gene Blacklock of the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program. $100 for series, $75 for CCBG/NC Members. (361) 852-2100; <www.ccbotanicalgardens.org>.

September 14 - 17

Hummer/Bird Celebration — ACISD School Complex, Rockport. Thousands of hummers descend on the area — lectures, nature vendors, hummer-homes tours, banding and fun. Cost varies. (361) 729-6445; <www.rockport-fulton.org>.

September 16 - 17

Fennessey Ranch Hummingbird Tours — Fennessey Ranch, Refugio County. Witness hundreds of hummingbirds feeding on the native turk’s cap growing wild on the banks of the Mission River. A migration spectacle not to be missed. $19.75/person. (361) 529-6600; <www.fennesseyranch.com>.

September 23

Fennessey Ranch Fall Hawk Watch — Fennessey Ranch, Refugio County. Experience the sight of thousands of hawks lifting from their roost on the Mission River. Full day in the field, lunch included. $49.75/person. (361) 529-6600; <www.fennesseyranch.com>.

September 28 - October 1

Celebration of Flight — Hazel Bazemore County Park, Corpus Christi. This event promises thousands of migrating birds of prey — a spectacle unmatched anywhere in the United States. The weekend includes live raptor programs, mini-talks on raptor identification and migration. Surveys of raptor roosting spots offer opportunities to enhance your knowledge. (361) 241-2617; <www.ccbirding.com>.

October

Date to be announced

Grand Opening, Roma Bluffs World Birding Center — Roma. Roma Bluffs is the westernmost World Birding Center site, and many bird species found in Starr County are not common to other parts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Free. (956) 849-4930.

October - April, or by appointment

Rio Grande Canoe Tours — Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Paddle on an unforgettable canoe trip down the Rio Grande with trained guides. With Mexico on your right and the United States on your left, you can see birds in two countries at the same time. $20/person. (956) 784-7500; <www.friendsofsan taana.org>.

October 7 - 8

Texas Wildlife Expo — Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters, Austin. Presented by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Expo gives visitors an opportunity to try out and learn about a wide range of outdoor sports and pastimes. The birding area offers nature walks, workshops and information about birding in Texas. (800) 792-1112; <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/expo. >

October 1 - 9

Refuge Week — Your favorite national wildlife refuge. Visit your favorite national wildlife refuge this week to learn more about your local natural heritage and what is being done to protect the wildlife around us.

October 13 - 14

Natural Bridge Caverns Nature Fest — Natural Bridge Caverns, San Antonio. This new festival will be held just north of San Antonio at the caverns. Call for details. (210) 651-6101; <www.naturalbridgecaverns.com>.

October 19 - 26

Texas Butterfly Festival — Rio Grande Valley, Mission. Visit Mission to celebrate the Valley’s 280-plus species of butterflies. Learn from internationally renowned speakers, explore the area’s natural habitats on expert guided field trips. (800) 580-2700; <www.texas butterfly.com>.

October 21

NatureFest and Fall Plant Sale — Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. Focus on fall family fun! Full day of unique nature seminars, including a children’s learning area and on-site plant experts. Shop for trees, natives and other landscape plants. Tour scenic garden areas, the Bird and Butterfly Trail and natural wetlands. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. (361) 852-2100; <www.ccbotanicalgardens.org>.

October 26 - 29

Wild in Willacy Bootfest — 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. (888) 603-6994; <www.wildinwillacy.com>.

October 28 (rain date November 18)

Rio Reforestation — Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. With over 95 percent of the original lower Rio Grande delta habitat cleared or altered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to restore native vegetation to National Wildlife Refuge tracts throughout the area to connect fragmented existing natural areas. Each year, more than 1,000 volunteers dedicate a Saturday morning to plant thousands of native seedlings on a portion of the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR. Free. (956) 784-7500.

November

Daily November - March

Guided Bird Walks — Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Free, guided bird walks are offered almost every day along trails that follow the edges of wetlands and curve through some of the most pristine flood forest left in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Call the Santa Ana NWR visitor center for current schedules. Free. (956) 784-7500.

Every Wednesday and Saturday
November 1 - April 28

Birding Van Tours — Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Led by knowledgeable volunteers and rangers, these van tours take you through the refuge “back country” (weather permitting) that is not open for private vehicles, to see and identify many bird species unique to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. 8 a.m.- noon. $3/Adult, $1/Child (12 or younger). (956) 748-3607.

November 8 - 12

13th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival - Harlingen. The Rio Grande Valley’s premier birding festival featuring guided field trips, afternoon seminars, all-day workshops, and keynote lectures. Meet world famous birders and see red-crowned parrots, ringed kingfishers, great kiskadees, green jays, and many other birds found exclusively in this region. (800) 531-7346; <www.rgvbirdfest.com>; <www.harlingen.com>.

November 16 - 19

7th Annual South Texas Wildlife and Birding Festival — Life Center, 123 5th St., Kingsville. Celebrating and educating the public about wildlife, nature and the importance of preserving both. Tours, speakers, exhibits, demonstrations, bird show and numerous youth activities make the festival a memorable experience for all who attend. Free admission, tours $20/person, seminars $5/person. (800) 333-5032; <www.kingsvilletexas.com>.

November 30 -December 3

Red River Valley Birding and Nature Festival — Hagerman NWR, Pottsboro. Field trips, seminars, workshops, demonstrations, children’s activities and more highlight this birding festival in North Texas. (888) 893-1188; <www.redriverbirding.com>.

December

Dates to be announced

La Sal Vieja Christmas Bird Count — La Sal Vieja Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR. (956) 969-2475.

Laguna Atascosa NWR Christmas Bird Count. For more than 100 years, the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, the largest citizen science event in the world, has been collecting winter census data to be used by researchers studying long-term trends in bird populations throughout North America. People of all birding skill levels are invited to join teams participating in the count. Free. (956) 748-3607.

Daily December 15 - April 15

Tram Tours — Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. One of the most popular winter attractions at Santa Ana NWR is the 75-minute interpretive tram tours that run several times each day. A naturalist tells the story of the natural and cultural history of the region and the refuge, while visitors seated high above normal eye level get a great look at some of the most pristine habitat left intact in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. $3/Adult, $1/Child. (956) 784-7500.

December 16

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Christmas Bird Count. Free. (956) 784-7500.

January 2007

Every Tuesday, January- March

McAllen Great Outdoors Series — McAllen Chamber of Commerce, 1200 Ash Avenue, McAllen. Various speakers presenting a wide variety of nature topics to the general public. 6 p.m. $3/person. (956) 969-2475; <www.valleynaturecenter.org>.

Every Saturday, January - March

Natural History Series — Valley Nature Center, 301 S. Border, Weslaco. Various speakers presenting a wide variety of natural history topics to the general public. 10 a.m. $3/Adult, $2.50/Senior, $1/Child. (956) 969-2475; <www.val leynaturecenter.org>.

January 2

Bentsen - Anzalduas Christmas Bird Count — Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park. All-day count of bird species and individuals in a 15-mile diameter circle. Pot luck countdown dinner following event. Last year’s count recorded nearly 160 species. $5/person. 6 a.m.-6 p.m. (956) 584-9156; <www.worldbird ingcenter.org>.

February 2007

Date to be announced

Ocelot Conservation Festival — Harlingen. The annual Ocelot Conservation Festival includes demonstrations with live ocelots, live exhibits of other Texas wildlife, nature seminars, children’s arts and crafts, games, archery and camping demonstrations. Free with tickets sold for certain programs. (956) 748-3607.

February 14 - 18

Seventh Annual Brownsville International Birding and Nature Festival — Brownsville. If a rose-throated becard has been at the top of your birding list, or if you have never seen even one rare neotropical bird before, there is a Valley full of birds waiting to be seen during this festival. The Rio Grande Valley’s warm climate offers 150-200 possible bird species this time of year in an area that has counted more than 500 different birds. (800) 626-2639; <www.brownsville.org>.

February 23 - 25

11th Annual Celebration of Whooping Cranes and Other Birds — Port Aransas. Pack your binoculars and flock to the coast to observe the endangered whooping crane and many other birds as well as listen to lectures by birding experts, attend birding tours both by land and sea, go to photography and watercolor workshops, attend a nature-related trade show and the International Children’s Art Exhibit. Do not miss this chance to whoop it up in Port Aransas — island style. (800) 45COAST; <www.portaransas.org/cranes.html>.

February 24

Nature Celebration — Sea Center Texas, Lake Jackson. Nature Celebration will feature everything from snakes to fish to birds and gardening for wildlife with something for everyone, including special events for the kids. (979) 292-0100.

March 2007

March 30 - April 2

Texas Tropics Nature Festival — McAllen. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s 11th Annual Texas Tropics Nature Festival offers field trips, seminars, a nature marketplace and trips both before and after the festival. Costs vary. (877) 622-5536; <www.mcallenchamber.com>.

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