Presidio wetlands wins grant awarded by Great Texas Birding Classic
AUSTIN — With the 21st annual Great Texas Birding Classic wrapped up for the year, the winners of the largest and longest bird-watching competition in the United States have chosen nine conservation projects that will be awarded grant funds. Grants range in amount from $1,000 to $10,000.
The B.J. Bishop Wetlands Viewing Center in Presidio, under the stewardship of Terry Bishop, received a $1,000 grant, which will be used to build a viewing blind on the north side of the wetlands. The building will be constructed of adobe with an ocotillo roof, complementing the area architecture. There will be room for visitors to view wildlife at the sanctuary as well as kiosks containing recent sightings and interpretive materials.
This year, the $38,000 in grant funding comes from entrance fees and sponsorships to the month-long, 129-team tournament. Since 1997, the Great Texas Birding Classic has awarded $918,500 in grants for on-the-ground habitat acquisition, restoration and enhancement projects.
“As the tournament continues to grow, we look forward to donating more and more toward habitat conservation projects in Texas,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) nature tourism manager Shelly Plante.
Among the field this year were 18 youth teams, called Roughwings (ages 13 and younger) and Gliders (ages 14-18), many of which were sponsored by the Texas Ornithological Society.
Of the 129 teams, some of the most successful saw as many as 214 species during the competition. Overall, participants spotted a combined 412 species — a sizable chunk of Texas’ bird diversity, since the state has recorded 647 species of birds total.
The competition had a light-hearted, fun feeling, with many of the teams boasting bird-inspired names: “Free Falling Falcons,” “Always Bunting, Never Shrike Out,” “Bird is the Word,” and “Chatty Chickadees,” to name a few.
For many participants, the Great Texas Birding Classic offered more than just a chance to check off birds on a list and win prizes, but also an opportunity to connect with nature and appreciate the diversity of birds around them.
“This event drove me to study, listen and spend more time with birds,” said Craig Davis, a member of the youth team TOS-SAYBC Junior Chickadees. “I would not be a birder if it was not for the San Antonio Young Birders Club and events like this one.”
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