Getting ready for the birds

HARLINGEN — It’s going to the birds.

Soon, the city that’s become the Rio Grande Valley’s birding mecca will be turning its tall stainless-steel traffic signal cabinets into promotional displays.

At City Hall, officials are counting on wrapping the images of five native birds around the big boxes standing at street corners before the World Birding Festival opens Nov. 6.

The $12,000 project will turn the boxes into big brightly decorated posters helping to promote the city’s worldwide repute as a birder’s paradise.

Earlier this month, city commissioners approved the project after Cassandra Consiglio, director of the Harlingen Convention & Visitors Bureau, presented her plans for 36 displays.

“Harlingen has been a center for birding for several years now and we have a great partnership with the birding festival so we thought wrapping control boxes would be welcoming to birders who come to our city,” City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday. “They’re going to stay up as art work to add to the level of art we have with our murals.”

The project will also help spruce up the city, Consiglio said.

“We hope to make the boxes more aesthetically pleasing to look at,” Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said. “We’re trying to make them more attractive to beautify the community.”

For the Birding Festival, the project’s a promotional boost.

“We’re quite happy about that,” Sue Griffin, the festival’s chairwoman, said. “Everyone coming through Harlingen will know Harlingen is a good place for birding and appreciates its birds.”

Consiglio said the boxes will boast the images of the red-crowned parrot, altamira oriole, great kiskadee, buff-bellied hummingbird and yellow-throated warbler.

Local attraction

Griffin is also counting on the art work to help lure local residents to the festival.

“It enhances the festival and increases local awareness,” she said. “It’s going to make the local people aware of the uniqueness of the birds we have. Hopefully they can get to see what it’s all about.”

“The birding festival is not just for those traveling here for the festival — it’s also for local residents,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to come and learn about places in the Rio Grande Valley where you can take your family outdoors.”

Next month, the festival will mark its first year at the Harlingen Convention Center, which opened in May.

This year, the festival will open its doors to more vendors, Griffin said.

“We’re able to have more vendors because it’s a bigger area,” she said, adding 83 vendors plan to display their wares at the convention center, about 20 more than previous years.

“We’ve always had requests for more vendors but we didn’t have the space for them,” she said.