AUSTIN— Drop that remote and grab those binoculars, the 24th Annual Great Texas Birding Classic (GTBC) is kicking off fall with its annual bird watching competition. For the first time ever, this spring event has moved to the fall due to the public health crisis. Coinciding with the fall migration, the GTBC is perfect for novice birders and nature lovers who want to get outside and take part in the competition. The deadline to enter is Sept. 14.
Teams can enter one or several categories lasting from a morning of birding to 24 hours of competition during this year’s Birding Classic being held Oct. 1-31. Last year, more than 130 teams consisting of 850 participants throughout Texas recorded 411 bird species during a host of regional and statewide tournaments.
“Last year’s participation was the highest in the past decade,” said GTBC director Shelly Plante, Nature Tourism Manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “The Classic is a perfect fit for naturalists, birders, communities, nature centers, bird clubs and school groups. There is something for everyone, regardless of bird watching experience, age, ability or location. We postponed our traditional spring event due to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but that gave us a chance to create a really special once-in-a-lifetime Fall Birding Classic!”
This year, participants can choose to compete in two new categories the “Dispersed Flock” team and the “Intact Flock.” “Dispersed Flock” teams consist of team members located anywhere in Texas. Families and friends can also team up to compete from wherever they are quarantining through the “Intact Flock” category.
Participating teams can choose from a variety of tournament categories for this special Fall event, including:
- The Expanded Big Sit!: This category is great for teams that have one or two “ringer” birders or if you have lots of people wanting to be on one team together. Due to the pandemic, the size of the Big Sit! circle has increased to a 50-foot diameter to give everyone plenty of space to social distance.
- The State Park Tournament or Sunrise-to-Noon Tournament – “Intact Flock”: Ideal for a team seeking a more laid-back day without too much traveling. The “Intact Flock” category is ideal for friends or families who are quarantining and interacting together. These are mixed age teams, so kids, teens and adults can be on a team together.
- Regional and Statewide Big Day Tournaments – “Dispersed Flock”: Perfect for team members who are unable to participate together due to the pandemic. Participants may put together a team of birders with each team member located anywhere in Texas or in their selected region. Perfect for those who want to bird for most or all of a 24-hour period in their local “patch” (window views, yards, neighborhoods, or outdoor public spaces such as parks if permitted by local/statewide ordinances) within 50 miles of their homes. Categories are separated by age groups.
- Human-Powered Tournament – “Dispersed Flock”: Participants can bird by bike, on foot, in a kayak or other non-motorized form of transport to take place in this tournament. Teams can be made up of members from any area of the state.
To register online and learn the rules and tournament details, visit: www.BirdingClassic.org. Registration fees and sponsorship dollars go toward conservation grants benefiting birding, nature tourism, and habitat restoration and enhancement projects throughout Texas.