Counting the birds: Great Texas Birding Classic returns


AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s the time of the year that bird lovers in Texas enjoy—the 28th Annual Great Texas Birding Classic (GTBC), which takes place between April 15 and May 15.

It is estimated that more than 1,000 birders will head across the state to the coast, forests, mountains and prairies for the country’s biggest, longest and wildest bird-watching tournament.

Rich Segal spoke with Shelly Plante, the Nature Tourism Manager of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, about the GTBC.

Plante said the competition has gotten so popular it has been expanded statewide. GTBC is for anyone interested in birding, not just those experts, and new categories created in the past mean budding naturalists can also enjoy birding.

People can do this by themselves, or they can form a team. More than 1,100 people competed in 2023. 413 of 666 documented avian species were documented by those who participated.

There is a registration fee, but the money will go toward birding and habitat conservation, as well as preserving critical bird habitats. Dollars raised also support nature tourism. In 2023, the tournament raised $47,000, and some of that money went toward conservation grants.

Since 1997, the Great Texas Birding Classic has awarded conservation grants totaling $1,163,000.