Teams Tie Top Spot in Great Texas Birding Classic

Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453,

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PORT ARANSAS, Texas — For the first time in the eight-year history of the ’Great Texas Birding Classic,’ two teams tied for first place in the weeklong competition.

With more new competition categories added every year, it’s getting harder to say who "won" the Birding Classic, but the intense, weeklong tournament (actually five continuous days of birding) is still viewed by many as the toughest category for hardcore competitors. Once called the "iron man of birding," the weeklong tournament is why organizers call the Classic the world’s longest birding competition.
The ConocoPhillips Cranes from the Houston/Galveston area this year crept up to tie the Swift Wild Birders, a team of young birders from Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and New York whose core members have captured the top spot in the adult weeklong tournament for several years running. Both teams spotted 327 bird species, down slightly from last year’s winning team tally of 329.

In the new Outta-Sight Song Birder Tournament category for the blind and visually impaired, the Espaa Tweetybirds edged out their friends on the other two teams in the category with 40 species identified. All three teams were actually members of the same group of people who are blind or visually impaired from the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Each team had a sighted birder who accompanied the team blindfolded.

Winners were announced April 25 at the Awards Brunch here. A total of 56 teams participated in the Birding Classic, a slight decrease from last year but still representing a diverse snapshot of today’s birding culture, including numerous youth teams.

In the next few weeks, winning teams will award a total of $51,000 to approved avian habitat conservation projects along the Texas coast, bringing the total amount awarded to projects during the past eight years to $402,000.

Birding Classic prize money for habitat conservation comes from corporate sponsors, including Reliant Energy, ConocoPhillips and various optics companies, including Swarovski, Eagle Optics, Zeiss and Bushnell.

Below are winning teams in all categories, with the number of bird species counted listed after the team name. Complete team rosters and team sponsors are on the TPWD Web site at ( Next year’s Great Texas Birding Classic will take place April 16-24.

2004 Competition Results

Big Sit! Tournament

  • Port Aransas Spoonbills — 100
  • Brazosport Birders — 78
  • TIE: Corpus Count and Swarovski Sitting Hawks — 75
  • LONE STAR BIRD AWARD of $1,000 toward a conservation project on the Texas coast — Swarovski Sitting Hawks

Weeklong Competition

  • TIE (for the first time in Birding Classic history!): ConocoPhillips Cranes and Swift WildBirders — 327
  • Environmental Partners — 313
  • The Butcherbirds — 285

Adult Upper Coast Only

  • The Loonatics — 214
  • Wicked Wagtails — 172
  • Realtree Roadrunners — 164
  • (WINNER: College Challenge 2004 — AEP&TAS Long-Horned Larks from UT Austin)

Adult Lower Coast Only

  • Swarovski/World Birding Center Roadside Hawks — 180
  • Zeiss Guys — 169

Adult Central Coast Only

  • Team Audubon — 183
  • Fly-by-Knights — 172
  • Lovely Zorrillos — 162

Seniors — Central Coast Only

  • Perigrinators — 121

Gliders (14-18 year olds) Upper Coast Only

  • The Four Mysterious Empids — 177

Gliders Lower Coast Only

  • Nikon Gnatcatchers — 157
  • Nikon Noddies — 154

Gliders Central Coast Only

  • John Jay Chihuahua Ravens — 115
  • John Jay Blue Jays — 113
  • Keen-Eyed Hawks — 76

Roughwings (13 years and younger) Upper Coast Only

  • Houston Audubon Accipiters — 107
  • Steiner Peregrines — 99
  • The Golden Eagles — 67

Roughwings Lower Coast Only

  • Groove-billed Anis — 139
  • Eagle Eyes — 132

Roughwings Central Coast Only

  • Fairchild Park Golden-cheeked Warblers — 139
  • Travis Audubon Towhees — 100
  • Kickin’ Kingfishers — 79

Outta-Sight Song Birder Tournament

  • España Tweety Birds — 40
  • DAAMARS International Kingfishers — 38
  • Wild Bird Center Inca Doves — 27