Archive for the 'Great Texas Birding Classic' Category

No Bird Shaming, Just Bird Watching

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
2017 Great Texas Birding Classic, April 15 - May 15.

2017 Great Texas Birding Classic, April 15 – May 15.

This is Passport to Texas

During The Great Texas Birding Classic, birding teams raise money for conservation while they compete for bragging rights against other teams…if there are other teams.

 If you wanted to know where I really feel like people need a challenge, I think the Panhandle. They want some competition up there.

Shelly Plante is Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. While the coast hosts a multitude of birding teams during the classic, regions like the Panhandle barely have any, and they aren’t alone.

Far west Texas—they want some competition. The DFW area only has a couple of teams participating. They could use some great competition. It would be wonderful to see those areas grow by leaps and bounds this year, and to see a real shift in people seeing birdwatching as an activity that they can do with their friends and family in spring as the Birding Classic.

There are tournaments suitable for nearly every experience level. So, c’mon Panhandle, Far West Texas and DFW Metroplex, step up to the challenge and put together a team. You other regions, too. I’m not trying to bird-shame anyone, but you can all do so much better.

When you register, the fee you pay supports conservation, and you’ll have fun outdoors with friends and family. Doesn’t that sound better than watching The Real Housewives of wherever?

The Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15, and the registration deadline is April 1. Do it for the birds.

That’s our show for today…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Birding Classic Attracts Birders Old & New

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
Big Sit in Austin with the Tweeting Chats

Big Sit in Austin with the Tweeting Chats

This is Passport to Texas

The Great Texas Birding Classic continues to attract seasoned and beginning birders to its flock.

It’s really crazy. We keep seeing amazing growth. I keep wondering when we might plateau, and it hasn’t happened yet.

Shelly Plante is Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. The tournament had a growth spurt beginning in 2013 after it became statewide.

We had the largest participation in over ten years in that first year that we were statewide. And that was 58 teams. Since then, we’ve grown every single year; last year in 2016, for our 20th anniversary, we had 113 teams.

The money raised funds conservation grants. Birders have fun doing it, when they participate in various tournaments. One of the most popular is the Big Sit.

And it is what it sounds like. You are sitting in a 17-foot diameter circle for 24 hours (or parts of 24-hours), to see how many birds come through that area. In 2016 of the 113 teams that were registered for the Birding Classic, 40 of those teams were Big Sit teams. And they took place in every region of the state.

Register a team before April 1, at

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation supports our series and helps keep Texas wild with support of proud members across the state. Find out more at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Birding Classic Still Flying High after 21 Years

Monday, March 6th, 2017

This is Passport to Texas

Twenty seventeen marks the 21st anniversary of the Great Texas Birding Classic.

I’ve been involved for 20 of those 21 years.

Shelly Plante is Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. In the beginning, Plante says the majority of participants were “hard core” birders. Since becoming a statewide event, she says it’s evolved into a tournament for everyone.

We have a lot of different categories. There are categories for beginners; categories for kids who are just getting started; categories families can take part in—or bird clubs can take part in. And so, I’ve seen this really huge growth in the generalist, which I think is fantastic. That’s who we would love to connect with nature. They may not have a connection. So, we’re hopefully making that connection for them with an event.

The Great Texas Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15; registration deadline is April 1st. Money raised through fees and sponsorship goes toward conservation grants.

The more money we raise through registration fees and sponsorship, the more money we are able to award to conservation grant projects throughout the state. So last year, we gave out $36-thousand dollars worth of grants. And, some of the winning teams got to pick which projects received that funding. So, it’s really a fun way to take part in conservation, and maybe even get to choose who gets those conservation dollars.

Put together a team and register before April 1, at

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

It’s Good to Have a Ringer in Your Circle

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016
Birding in Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley

Birding in Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley

This is Passport to Texas

When I hear the word ringer, I think unfair advantage. Yet, wringers are “good guys” and encouraged in the Great Texas Birding Classic’s Big Sit tournament.

You can have a team with all people who are beginning, and then they just have to be sure they have a ringer or two on their team who can ID the bird for them for it to go on their list.

That’s Texas Parks and Wildlife Nature Tourism coordinator, Shelly Plante who oversees the event. She told me our colleague, Bob Sweeney, an attorney, is a Big Sit ringer.

You know, I’ve been fascinated with birds since childhood, and even in high school I was out in the field and woods with my binoculars and my book. I just think it’s an exciting, dynamic part of the natural world, and pretty easy if you’re willing to put a little time into it to develop a minimum level of knowledge.

Bob has done that and more, and says he enjoys helping beginning birders gain knowledge and confidence.

I think any teacher has a great feeling when they feel like someone in the class gets it. Someone snaps to it. That Eureka moment may come, not during the Big Sit, but it may be something that was learned during the Big Sit that is then used in the backyard, or used on a hike or communicated to another person who is wanting to start out, so maybe the light bulb when it goes on is the confidence to transmit that knowledge—I know what that is. I saw it in the Big Sit. And here’s why I think it’s that.

The Great Texas Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15th. Stay on top of the action at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

The Birding Classic’s Big Sit

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016
Big Sit Tournament

Friends working together to identify birds in the Birding Classic’s Big Sit Tournament.

This is Passport to Texas

Does sitting outdoors in a circle with friends and family sound like a birding tournament to you? It is, and it’s called The Big Sit.

 We call them lovingly the tailgate party for birders. Because really it’s wherever you can set up a 17-foot diameter circle. Be that your backyard, a local park, a state park – anywhere that makes sense for you to be able to see a good group of birds and to spend a day with friends and family.

The Big Sit is one of the tournaments of the Great Texas Birding Classic, in its 20th year. Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager at TPW, coordinates event.

You can have as few as one person on your team, to as many as you can fit in that circle throughout the course of the day. And people can come in shifts. They don’t have to stay for the whole 24 hours. So, you could have a morning group, a midafternoon group. You could have them come throughout the day. No one has to stay there the entire time.

The Big Sit tournament is ideal for novice birdwatchers.

The Big Sit is great for beginners, because it lets you get your feet wet in the Birding Classic, and see what a bird watching tournament really is. Once you get your confidence in The Big Sit it’s easier to move on to doing a Sunrise to Noon tournament; it’s easier to say hey, I want to do a Big Day where I drive around to a lot of places. And so we have tournaments for that as well.

The Great Texas Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15th. Team registration closed April 1st, but you can stay on top of the action at