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Galveston is a birding mecca. Thanks to its prime location on the trans-Gulf migration route, hundreds of bird species pass through or reside on the island.
And, just like the birds that flock to the island, birders do too. Those who think they might like to give this pastime a try are encouraged to participate in the Big Sit on May 4. The event will take place on the east end of the island at Fort San Jacinto Historical Point from sunrise to sunset and is limited to a specific 17-foot diameter location.
Hosted by Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Big Sit is one category of The Great Texas Birding Classic, which brings teams of birders together to count and record the number of bird species they see to help support nature tourism and conservation. This year, Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council (GINTC) is sponsoring a Big Sit team and is encouraging the public to join in the fun. The event is free and open to the public.
“People can come and go as they please,” American Bird Conservancy Program Coordinator Kristen Vale said. “They can pop in for ten minutes or an hour, whatever they like.” Those who would like to be an official member of the Big Sit team should call the GINTC office at 409/789-8125.
Vale added that the event is designed to encourage people to get outside and explore the island’s east end. The GINTC will have representatives available to lead nature walks for those who attend.
“On top of identifying and counting birds, we’re trying to showcase and promote things for people to see and do like the East End Lagoon, East Beach and the Fort San Jacinto Historical Point,” she said.
The Big Sit is one of many birding events hosted by the GINTC and supported by the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). In April, the CVB sponsored a Big Day, a competition that brings together teams of birders to identify and record all the bird species they heard or observed in a 24-hour period.
Of course, the GINTC’s signature event is FeatherFest, the birding and nature photography festival that takes place in April during spring migration. The event draws hundreds of birders to the island for field trips, lectures, and other programs. It’s common for participants to see more than 200 bird species during the event. FeatherFest 2020 will take place on April 16-19.
Supporting events like these are part of the CVB’s broader initiative to increase eco-tourism on the island.
“Over the past year, we have worked with citizen-led task forces to develop and promote nature-based activities in Galveston,” Park Board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said. “Birding events like these provide great opportunities for people to appreciate the island’s natural beauty and become involved in a lifelong activity.”
Park board meetings are typically held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 1:30 p.m. at 601 23rd St.