Full of feathers
You always knew birds were big in Port Aransas. Now, the rest of the world has agreed.
Port Aransas was named “America’s Birdiest City” in the small coastal city division for the first time ever this year, said Ann Bracher Vaughan, executive director of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce-Tourist Bureau.
In conjunction with the Great Texas Birding Classic, held April 24-26, birders in Port Aransas counted 208 different species of birds in a 72-hour period, topping all other cities our size. Competition rules say a small coastal city must be 100 square miles or smaller.
“Taking advantage of counts from two Big Sit teams and a Roughwings (youth 13 and younger) team, as well as seasoned birders who were in the area during those dates, provided the impetus that resulted in our high count this year,” stated Joan Holt, coordinator of the count and one of Port Aransas’ expert birders.
“Naturally, we’re thrilled with the recognition and it’s another ‘feather in our cap’ for advertising and promotional purposes of the city as one of the most popular birding sites around,” Vaughan said. “Our beautifully preserved and developed birding locations are a major draw not only for the migratory birds but for birders who flock from far and wide to enjoy the spectacle.”
Birders flock to the city’s Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond Center and the Wetlands Park birding site for looks at the many migratory and resident coastal birds in the area.
Holt said between 25 and 30 birders turned in lists, with “maybe half of them” being Port Aransans and the other half being people who had come here to see the migration.
Among the birds spotted that are uncommon in the area were a Bell’s vireo, a varied bunting and a Lazuli bunting, and a MacGillivray’s warbler, Holt said. She said several birds that are more common west of the Port Aransas area were seen during the competition.
Nueces County was named the Birdiest Coastal County, with 262 different species of birds recorded.
Corpus Christi, for the eighth year in a row, also came out a winner this year in the Largest Coastal City Division, counting 243 different species of birds.
“Boasting top awards with both the smallest and largest cities in the number one county is a huge honor and one that will draw the attention of all birding enthusiasts nationally and internationally,” Vaughan said.
In its 10th competitive year, during the spring, volunteers from the birding community are called upon to watch for different species of birds to count and report back to the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island in Alabama, coordinators of the annual competition. This was the second year that Port Aransas had competed for the title; in 2009 Port Aransas came in second.