Great Texas Birding Classic awards grants

The 23rd annual Great Texas Birding Classic (GTBC) has wrapped up another year and the winners of the largest and longest bird-watching competition in the United States have chosen 10 conservation projects to award grant funds. Grants range in amount to $1,000 to $10,000.
The Birding Classic continues to grow in popularity year after year, and it’s been thrilling to see so many families, kids and friends connect with nature through the event,” said Shelly Plante, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department nature tourism manager.
This year, 850 participants statewide participated in this event that spanned a full month during spring migration. Despite heavy rains during the final half of the tournament, teams saw a wide variety of bird species during their time in the field. In total, all 136 teams saw 411 species of birds during the monthlong competition. Among those were 19 youth teams called Roughwings (ages 13 and younger) and Gliders (ages 14-18). Thirteen of the youth teams were sponsored by the Texas Ornithological Society.
Since its inception, the winners of the GTBC have been able to award $993,000 in on-the-ground habitat acquisition, restoration and enhancement projects. This year, team registrations and sponsorships to the monthlong, 136-team tournament made it possible for the GTBC to award $39,000 in conservation grants to projects throughout the state.
For many participants, the GTBC offers 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.
“I was introduced to birding last year through this competition and loved it so much,” said Isabelle Zentil, an 18-year-old Gliders participant. “I started to go birding with my dad over the summer and was thrilled when I got the opportunity to do it again this year.”
“In addition to the hundreds of people participating each year, the real winner is the birds since funds raised go toward bird conservation grants here in Texas,” said Plante.