RGV Birding Festival kicked off with field trips

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Birding enthusiasts are seen in this file photo at the Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival at the Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco looking at birds in the wetlands. (Raul Garcia | Valley Morning Star)

HARLINGEN — How ‘bout them birds!

The cheers have spread across the country and around the world as nature lovers converge on Harlingen for the 30th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival.

Birders are spreading across the Valley on field trips to Arroyo Colorado, Laguna Madre Islands and Waterbird conservation, Bentsen-RGV State Park as part of the annual festival.

Doors opened Wednesday at the Harlingen Convention Center for birders to check in and register for the festival. The turnout for this year’s festival has been grand, said Sue Griffin, chairperson for the festival.

“We have over 500 people registered as participants,” Griffin said. “We have 55 vendors, and we have a children’s program for Saturday and Sunday. We finish up Sunday at 4 p.m.”

The birding festival is well known for its many activities promoting nature conservation in general and specifically birds. The vendors at the Convention Center offer a fine and festive place for visitors to shop for a variety of merchandise.

The festival this year offers several new attractions which set itself apart from previous years.

“Our theme is conservation and we have added an event for Thursday evening,” she said. “It’s a gala called ‘Legends of Conservation’, and we will be honoring local business and individuals who have contributed to our efforts for conservation here in the Rio Grande Valley.”

That gala at the Harlingen Convention Center begins 6 p.m. and continues until 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Bird lovers can still register for the festival both online at rgvbf.org. or in person at the Convention Center. Registration cost $50 and field trips come with an additional fee which can be found on the festival’s website.

“We’re going to all of the normal places where we would normally go,” Griffin said. “That means all of the state parks and all of the wildlife refuges. Plus we go to the King Ranch and to areas of Kleberg County. We also go as far as Falcon Dam in that direction.”