The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is holding a multi-day birding and nature festival in Del Rio April 16-18, with an event kickoff social on April 15 at 6:30 p.m.
Multi-day and single-day tickets are available, with prices ranging from $125-$300, which includes daily lunch. Registration is available online now, and participants are encouraged to register early for the best excursion selection. Options include unique outdoor opportunities such as a kayak trip down the Pecos River.
“Birding the Border is so much more than just birding,” said Maureen Frank, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, Uvalde. “We have reptiles and amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies, flowers and trees, endless scenery and sparkling night skies. Our experience connects participants with local wildlife, culture, history and new research on birds and conservation for an unforgettable adventure.”
The Birding the Border program works to connect birders with private landowners, said Emily Grant, AgriLife Extension agent, Val Verde County.
“With over 95% of the land being privately owned in Texas, we work with landowners to incorporate songbird management practices on their property, and then we open the gates to birders through the Birding the Border program to share the amazing and unique experience of birding in Val Verde and Kinney counties,” Grant said.
In addition to speakers, exhibits, booths and presentations, there will be two special events held during the festival. The Birds, Bats and Owl Benefit Dinner at Kickapoo Caverns will take place on April 16. The Birding with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Dinner with keynote speaker Iliana Pena, Texas Wildlife Association director of conservation programs, San Antonio, will be on April 17.
“Our tours provide a behind-the-gates view of boots-on-the-ground conservation,” said Frank. “One of the takeaways that I hope participants learn is that a diversity of management practices – hunting, grazing, ecotourism – can actually work together to support people and wildlife.”
Grant said Birding the Border is a phenomenal birding program for birders of all levels, nature enthusiasts and nature photographers.
“We have seven wonderful professional birding guides and a host of birding volunteers who will help make the Birding the Border program an amazing experience for everyone,” she said.
Professional guide Bryan Calk, Uvalde, said the mix of species expected during the Birding the Border Festival is totally unique and not something possible at any other birding event.
“Where else can you expect to find tropical parula, Morelet’s seedeater, golden-cheeked warbler, varied bunting and green jay all on breeding territory in one festival? Only at Birding the Border,” Calk said.
“Every chance I get to bird on land that is typically off-limits, I do it. This special access is part of what keeps me coming back to Birding the Border as a guide year after year. It’s such an honor and a privilege to spend time in these spectacular landscapes, and the fantastic birds we get to see on top of that make for an unforgettable experience.”
For additional details or information, contact Grant at 830-774-7591. Visit https://valverdeextension.ticketleap.com/ for registration and event information for participants and vendors.