Birdwatchers flock to Nacogdoches for winter convention

A rarely seen Henslow Sparrow was spotted at the A.L. Mangham Regional Airport in Nacogdoches. (Source: Cliff Taylor)
A rarely seen Henslow Sparrow was spotted at the A.L. Mangham Regional Airport in Nacogdoches. (Source: Cliff Taylor)
The Texas Ornithological Society is holding its winter convention in Nacogdoches. (Source: KTRE Staff)
The Texas Ornithological Society is holding its winter convention in Nacogdoches. (Source: KTRE Staff)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Over a hundred bird watchers are in Nacogdoches this week for a winter meeting of the Texas Ornithological Society.

That's a small portion of the 2.2 million birders in Texas. They spend the majority of their time in woods and fields.

"Birding gets you present in the moment right now," said Sheila Hargis, the president of the Texas Ornithological Society.

The world's troubles just go away for birdwatchers when they're in their element.

Cold, blustery wind? Who cares, when a Henslow sparrow is spotted.

"They're devilishly difficult to get a good look at," one birdwatcher said.

However, one posed for zoom lenses. It was enough to make a birder giddy.

"For me, it's the first time I've seen one, so I get to check that off," Louise Riblon, a birdwatcher from Brazos County said with a laugh.

Wildlife watching, which includes birdwatching, contributed $13.8 billion to the Texas economy in 2011. According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife that surpasses Texas hunting's economic impact by $7 billion.

"The cool thing about birds and birdwatching is no matter where you go in the world, there are birds," said Cliff Taylor, a birdwatcher from Corpus Christi.

Serious birders take trips miles away from their homes for the primary purpose of birdwatching. Transportation, lodging, food, and equipment add up, boosting economies along the way.

"We brought about 140 into Nacogdoches, and we're all staying in hotels and eating food," Hargis said.

Yet, the majority of birdwatching happens around the home.

"We like to bird regularly and see all the birds in our region," said Gailon Brehm, a birdwatcher from Plano.

Birds of a feather flock together by joining the Texas Ornithological Society or local groups, like the Pineywoods Audubon society. Winter and spring trips offer new sightings.

"Right behind it. Almost right above it," a birdwatcher from Laredo said. "Something orange."

The Texas bird watching society wraps up meetings on Sunday. The convention is taking place at The Fredonia Hotel.

A link to a national overview of outdoor recreational activities can be found here. Click here for the East Texas Pineywoods Audubon Society's Facebook page.

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