An easy, fun way to participate in the Great Texas Birding Classic

AUSTIN — The 20th annual Great Texas Birding Classic kicked off Friday. If you missed signing up this year, you still have a chance to participate by joining a Big Sit! team at one of 22 birding sites near you.

This Saturday, the South Padre Island Sandpipers is participating in the event, sponsored by South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The location will be the South Padre Island Convention Centre Boardwalk and Gardens.

Often called a “tailgate party for birders,” the Big Sit! is one of 11 different categories within the Birding Classic tournament. Teams participating in the Big Sit! watch and listen over a 24-hour period to identify bird species while remaining within a 17-foot diameter circle. All of the sites listed below are hosting Big Sit! teams and have invited the public to join them, giving them extra eyes and ears in the field looking for birds to list.

If you would like to join a team for a day — or even part of a day — and learn from local bird experts, visit one of the following state parks or nature centers to help their Big Sit! teams. Check the online birding calendar or contact the sites directly for more details. Tournaments run until May 15.

All registration fees and sponsorship dollars go toward conservation grants benefiting birding, nature tourism, and habitat restoration and enhancement projects throughout Texas. Some winning teams even help select which projects will be funded.

Overall last year, the tournament raised $25,000 for conservation grants — a 40 percent increase from the previous year. Since its inception in 1997, the Great Texas Birding Classic has awarded conservation grants totaling $844,500.

To find out more about the tournament and see all of the teams participating this year, visit

The following sites are other locations hosting Big Sit! teams open to the public:

April 23 – Swarovski Optik Sitting Hawks, sponsored by Swarovs ki Optik N.A.

Location: Hazel Bazemore County Park, Corpus Christi

April 26 – Big TERNout …, sponsored by Audubon TERN

Location: Galveston Island State Park

April 26 – Visit Beaumont, TX, sponsored by Visit Beaumont, TX CVB

Location: Cattail Marsh inside Tyrrell Park , Beaumont

April 27 – Birders at the Bend, sponsored by San Saba Bird & Nature Club

Location: Colorado Bend SP

April 30 – Island Peeps

Location: Goose Island State Park , near Rockport

April 30 – Quinta Mas -Sit-Lawn, sponsored by Eagle Optics

Location: Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center , McAllen

April 30 – Uptown Funky Ducks

Location: Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center

April 30 – Brazosport GCBO Spring Flingers, sponsored by Brazosport Chamber of Commerce

Location: Quintana Neotropic Bird Sanctuary, near Lake Jackson

April 30 – Golden-cheeked Wanderers, sponsored by Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation

Location: Mother Neff State Park , Moody

May 1 – I-20 Wildlife Preserve, sponsored by I-20 Wildlife Preserve

Location: I-20 Wildlife Preserve, Midland

May 1 – Brazos Banditry, sponsored by Thomas Moore Feed

Location: Brison Park, College Station

May 1 – Hot Wings

Location: Resaca de la Palma State Park, Brownsville

May 7 – Onion Heads, sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Location: McKinney Falls State Park , Austin

May 7 – Sitting Ducks

Location: Lake Colorado City State Park

May 7 – Off Their Nuthatches

Location: Tyler State Park

May 7 – Ridge Watchers

Location: Martin Dies, Jr State Park, Jasper

May 14 – Laredo Seedeater Seekers, sponsored by Laredo CVB

Location: Lake Casa Blanca State Park , Laredo

May 14 – Rootin’ Tootin ‘ Tanagers

Location: South Llano River State Park, near Junction

May 15 – The Bluebirds

Location: Blanco State Park