Gulf Coast Birding Festivals 2018

I can’t decide what I like best: Spring migration or Fall migration.  Living on the Gulf Coast, it sort of doesn’t matter because we’re never without birds.  When the Robins leave the far north of America and Canada, they winter here.  We know it’s spring when they leave.  Warblers fly in on stormy Fall weather for a brief stay before heading south across the Gulf of Mexico.  But they pass through again in the Spring.  Hummingbirds  cross our area north and south and also west and east.  Shorebirds are bountiful in the winter along the Southern coast.  That’s probably my favorite time for bird watching.

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Birding Festivals bring in a lot of economic power to communities that hold them.  Birding Tourism is counted on in many areas of our country and not just along the Gulf Coast, but I’m partial to the Gulf Coast so want to spread the news about upcoming bird festivals from Texas to the Florida Keys.

The week of April 17-22 brings The Galveston Featherfest to Coastal Texas.    They’re hosting a family festival, field trips, seminars and there are workshops for photographers.

April 13-15th you can join in the events at the Great Louisiana Birdfest.  It features tours, night birding, a photo workshop, socials and other field trips.  Seems to me it’s a premier festival; you might see me there.

The Grand Isle Migratory Bird Fest is scheduled for the weekend of April 20.  There are plenty of family activities, workshops, and field trips.  They’ll have bird banding, a class on binoculars and spotting scopes, a trip to the butterfly dome and an art exhibit.  And in the Fall in Louisiana, you’ll find Hummingbird and Butterfly Festivals in Folsom and Lafayette.

Alabama has it’s Coastal Bird Fest in October (Oct 3-6, 2018), however, the state is host to other events in the Spring.  Among these are the bird banding at Ft. Morgan.  This year it is scheduled from April 17-21.  There are usually two locations for banding at this site.  It’s lots of fun.  A few years ago I was able to hold a bird and release it after it was banded; so sweet.  If you get the opportunity to go, please do so.

Dauphin Island, Alabama is an amazing place to visit during migration.  I highly recommend it. The best time to visit the Bird Sanctuary is from March 1 to April 30.

Now, for Florida.  This state is so large and lined in miles and miles of coast that it’s going to be hard to list all the festivals that take place there in my little blog.  So, I’m going to point you to The Annual Florida Bird Events for more information.

Don’t forget your birding trail maps and guides in each state.  If you’re driving, you can usually get a copy at each state’s Welcome Centers along the interstate.  Texas has amazing interactive online birding maps for the Upper Texas Coast , Central Texas Coast, and Lower Texas Coast.  Louisiana has the America’s Wetland Birding Trail along the Great Gulf Coast. You’ll also find the Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail, the Alabama Gulf Coast Birding Trail, and the Great Florida Birding Trail which is so extensive it’s available in regional maps.  You can find information about them all online or stop at a Visitor’s Center to pick up a copy of the maps.

International Migratory Bird Day is always the second weekend in May.  This is a day to celebrate, well, bird migration!  Bird Day is celebrated in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central and South American and the Caribbean.  There is so much information about it you should just go to the website: www.birdday.org.

Happy Birding!

This is a repost with current event dates of an article from 2015. The information is subject to change and therefore not guaranteed to be accurate. Check the event websites before making your plans to attend anything listed in this article.
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Florida Birding

I just got in the mail today my birding certificate from Wings Over Florida.  I’m a Cardinal level which means I’ve identified between 50-149 birds in Florida.  My life list is a lot longer because I’ve seen tons of birds in tons of states across America.  Since I moved here, for the Wings of Florida certificate I had to start over with my Florida list.  Birds that don’t count on the list are: Muscovy Duck, Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Budgeriger, Monk Parakeet, Spot-breasted Oriole, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Black-hooded Parakeet, White-winged Parakeet, House Finch, House Sparrow, European Starling. 

I’m almost at the 150 mark since I moved here.  Just a handful to go and hopefully I can make it further inland this migration season to see from of my feathered friends I miss from the other states I’ve lived.  That level is called the Scrub Jay Level, which is considered intermediate or 150-249 bird types.  Wish me luck.

Wings Over Florida is part of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Great Florida Birding Trail.  Check them out at www.myfwc.com/wof for your checklist and application.

Along with my certificate I also recieved The Great Florida Birding Trail  brochure, Checklist of Florida’s Birds, Commemorative Guide The Great Florida Birding Trail, and separate maps for the West Florida Birding Trail, Panhandle Birding Trail and South Florida Birding Trail. 

I am so excited about the migratory bird season and hope to see some really cool birds.  I live a few minutes from Myakka State Park and have never seen the Scrub Jay so I plan to get that one on my list.  I want to focus this winter on ducks and I also hope to see a Whooping Crane.  Whooping Cranes were introduced to Florida and are rarely spotted.  I got to see one in TX before we moved here.  We were driving to Corpus Christi for the weekend and were planning to visit the nature preserves for bird watching.  Driving down the interstate from Houston a HUGE bird flew out in front of us from the swampy grass in the median.  It was a Whooping Crane.  I never got a picture of it or any other but I saw it.  I’m hoping to actually spot one and photograph it this time.  But for now my memory is the best picture.

Edited: I did finally get my Scrub Jay certificate.  I’ve moved to Alabama.  I can still bird watch in FL which is about an hour’s drive but it’ll take longer now to get to the next level.  I hope to find some more great birds in Alabama.  I’m living under a different migration flyway.