Ornithology 101 in South Texas: A Learn-About-Birds Workshop: Feb 06—11, 2018

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Departs: McAllen
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Erik Lindqvist
Download Itinerary: PDF (110.8 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Denver Holt

Denver Holt is a wildlife researcher and graduate of the University of Montana. He is founde...

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Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, and Snowy Egret

Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, and Snowy Egret— Photo: Kevin Zimmer

A marvelous opportunity to learn the science of birds while engaging in active field observation in one of the country’s top birding areas. Fun-filled days of learning and birding.

During the past 15 plus years, birding has become increasingly sophisticated. Optical equipment and field guides are better than ever, and birders, in turn, now have more knowledge of field identification and distribution than ever before. As the hobby continues to evolve, our experience has taught us that many birders and observers of nature seek more from their birding experiences.

On this unique Birding Workshop, we will emphasize the underlying science of birds in conjunction with standard bird observation. In combining field identification with scientific knowledge of birds, avian life histories, and brief classroom-style lectures, we present an “Ornithology 101” learning experience. 

The venue for this program is South Texas, a haven for birds and birders where visitors are treated to a wide diversity of waterfowl, shorebirds, waders, hawks, and passerines at any time of the year. The winter season is particularly productive, as this is the time of the year when bird numbers reach their apex, a time when resident specialty birds are joined by thousands of over-wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and landbirds. 

While visiting superb birding locations, we will discuss the origin and evolution of birds and answer a wide range of questions related to current taxonomic relationships, speciation, and the division of birds into Orders, Families, Genera, and Species. For example, in viewing the beauty of herons and egrets and other members of the Order Ciconiiformes, we will discuss why Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons are more closely related to each other than the Cattle Egret is to them both; and while enjoying the diversity of waterfowl colors, we will learn why males are so brilliantly colored and females are not, and why males perform courtship displays.

Other topics we’ll explore include courtship and mating systems, bird anatomy, and the key features that allow survival in a variety of habitats. We will talk about flight, morphological adaptations, and the various types of bills and their function and evolution. Perhaps the most standout feature of birds is feathers, and we will delve into flight and ornamentation. Additionally, your guides are not only known for their abilities to identify birds by field marks, but by sound as well. Thus we will address the reasons for bird song and its relevance to courtship and territorial defense.

We emphasize that this workshop presents a special opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about birds, and that it will prove valuable for beginning birders and more experienced observers alike.

Comfortable accommodations; light to moderate walking on level ground; mild weather expected, but with rain possible.