Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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FromthepublisherIf you’ve just arrived in the Rio Grande Valley, welcome! You’ve arrived just in time for two of my favorite events – the Texas Butterfly Festival at the National Butterfly Center in Mission and the RGV Birding Festival in Harlingen.

First up is the Texas Butterfly Festival, which kicks of this Saturday, Nov. 4 with a free Community Day, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lots of family-friendly activities are planned. The day actually begins at 8 a.m. with the festival’s inaugural Monarch 5K Trail Run and 1K Fun Run. The Fun Run is designed to celebrate the huge variety of butterflies found around the Mission Trails outdoor recreational area that is home to the National Butterfly Center, a National Wildlife Refuge tract and Bentsen-RGV State Park, Headquarters of the World Birding Center.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 5-7, will be jam-packed with field trips allowing participants to explore many sites and hot spots for sighting birds as well as butterflies, all led by guides familiar with the area as well as the wildlife. You may expect to see more than 60 species in a day, according to the Butterfly Center. Last year, attendees from 23 states and 4 countries registered to experience one of the most biologically diverse areas in North America, with the assistance of expert guides. The National Butterfly Center and surrounding lands are renowned for a volume and variety of wild, free-flying butterflies that cannot be found anywhere else in the country.

Participants can register for the Monarch 5K/1K Run and the field trips at www.TexasButterflyFestival.com. Call 956-583-5400 for more information.

RGV Birding Festival

Next up right after the Butterfly Festival is the RGV Birding Festival, a five-day event, held Nov. 8-12, packed with even more field trips, seminars and workshops. The Birding Festival, based out of the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium, will feature over 60 vendors of bird-related products available for every level of birder at the Birders Bazaar. Field trips are listed on a downloadable worksheet at rgvbf.com. There is a $25 registration fee to participate, and then there are separate fees for different field trips, seminars and workshops. You can choose as many as you like. The Kiskadee Pass ($25) will also be offered as a blanket registration to cover all seminars and workshops. There are literally 100 or more field trips to choose from.

If you haven’t been birding before, this is an excellent opportunity to get started with the help of birding experts who are brought in just for this event. You can pick up a birding checklist and record dozens of species in just a few days. But a word of warning: this can be habit forming. If you like being outdoors, you’ll love birding. Birders from all across the country know the Rio Grande Valley is a birder’s paradise that boasts over 500 species of birds that either live in the RGV or migrate annually through the area, due to its geographical location. There’s good reason the Valley has nine different World Birding Centers, each offering it’s own unique habitat and bird species.

For more information on the 24th annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, visit rgvbf.org or on Facebook search RGVBF.

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