If, after 25 years, you are still not sure about what the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is all about, I will tell you: It is all about the tours!

Yes, the festival is not about a trade show or a series of lectures, it is about the diversity of the field trips and the VIP birders who guide them. Many people from outside of Texas and the United States come to Harlingen for the opportunity to birdwatch with a popular, well-known birder. Some of these VIP birders are authors so tour participants can return home with a personalized signed copy of a book and possibly even a photo with the author.

The roster of field trips is the main feature of this festival, followed by seminars, networking socials, and the trade show. This year, a newly designed and expanded Photo Track – a series of photography field workshops- will certainly generate excitement. Another important development this year bestows an opportunity for locals to participate in this exciting experience. The $25 registration fee has been waived for residents of the Rio Grande Valley! You are welcome to come in at any time during the festival with a valid local ID or Driver’s License and sign up for the field trip or seminar of your choice and pay only the cost of the trip or seminar. If you seriously consider this, I recommend logging into rgvbf.org and select a field trip (s) or seminar (s) and head out there on Nov. 5 or early on Nov. 6. Some field trips are already sold out.

This year’s VIPs include Rick Wright, a birding tour leader specializing in European and the Americas for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. After a detour to Harvard Law School, he took the M.A.  and Ph.D. in German at Princeton University. A prolific contributor to the birding literature and a sought-after lecturer, his scholarly publications are two books on the Latin and German animal literature of the late Middle Ages and the recently published; “The Allegorical Coot.”

Ted Floyd is the editor of Birding magazine, the award-winning flagship publication of the American Birding Association. He has authored five bird books, including the Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Harper-Collins, 2008) and How to Know the Birds (National Geographic, 2019) among hundreds of popular articles on birds and nature. A graduate of Princeton University (A.B., 1990) and Penn State University (PhD., 19915) Ted has taught to everyone from second graders to advanced graduate students.

Pete Dunne is famous for his writings on natural history and birding. He is also the founder of the World Series of Birding, as well as the former director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, Birding Ambassador for the New Jersey Audubon Society, and former publisher of New Jersey Audubon Magazine. His articles have appeared in most major American birding publication. The list of accolades for this year’s VIP birders is long and can be found at rgvbf.org.

So much has been written about the benefits of birdwatching especially as a stress relief activity. If you own a pair of binoculars you are ready to join a field trip and see first-hand what the fuzz is all about. I can honestly say you will marvel at the beauty of our Valley and rekindle your love of nature. For me, birdwatching is a form of meditation; a disconnect. It also brings me joy reminiscing on my childhood outdoor adventures amid the South Texas Brush. So, what are you waiting for? The weather is predicted to be ideal and there is still room in some of the tours!

For full details on the birding festival click here.

Editor’s Note: The 26thAnnual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival takes place Nov. 6-10. The Rio Grande Guardian will have news reports on the festival throughout the week from writers and broadcasters Nydia Tapia-Gonzales, Mario Muñoz, and Blanca Gomez.