The Top Texas Birding Festivals

A white Ibis flying over a small pond near Houston, Texas

Jeff Heger / Getty Images

Many areas throughout Texas celebrate the arrival of migrating birds. Birding, the act of observing birds in their natural habitats, has become one of the top reasons tourists visit Texas. This hobby is a bit different from bird watching, where people simply look at birds wherever they are found. While it's similar, Texas birders specifically go out into unspoiled, native bird habitat and look for their feathered friends. To celebrate the arrival of both the birds and the birders, there are a variety of birding and wildlife trails, festivals, sanctuaries, and natural opportunities within the Lone Star State that visitors can experience throughout the year.

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Brownsville International Birding Festival

The Brownsville International Birding Festival offers birders around the globe the opportunity to see species unique to the Texas border region. The event also provides talks from world-renowned experts, tours of the famous Texas wildlife sanctuaries, and a look at one of the most abundant wildlife facilities in the region, such as the El Cielo Biosphere in Mexico.

This birding festival is an annual event in the winter season and runs parallel to the El Cielo Nature Festival, just a three- or four-hour bus ride away. Birders will be able to enjoy a variety of cloud forests with many different birds and butterflies around. Some of these include Bat Falcons, ornate hawk-eagles, and social flycatchers, to name a few.

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Emory Eagle Festival

Designated at the "Eagle Capital of Texas" by the 74th state legislature, the small town of Emory in Raines County has held its annual Eagle Festival for over a decade. The event features numerous educational seminars, displays, and exhibits, including eagle spotting tours and special birding tours on Lake Fork and Lake Tawakoni.

The Eagle Fest includes a photography contest of birds, animals, and other natural elements, and is supported by large sponsors like the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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Galveston Featherfest

Galveston's annual Feather Fest is set to coincide with the spring migration, giving birders an opportunity to view over 300 species as they make their way over the island.

This is one of the top locations in Texas for bird watching, with over 224 species being spotted recently and 605 birders and photographers capturing the moment. This birding and nature photo festival includes events for all levels ranging from beginner to expert. There are classes like the Coastal Birding Workshop, Raptors Uncorked!, and the Butterfly Study Workshop.

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Parrot Festival

Sponsored by the National Parrot Rescue and Preservation Foundation, the Parrot Festival is held in Houston annually during the last weekend of January. Experts from around the world speak on topics such as parrot behavior, care, nutrition, and preservation.

The NPRPF Parrot Festival has a toy workshop, painting workshop, scientific tours, and live entertainment. The event schedule involves three days of lectures, raffles, drawings, special exhibitions, silent auctions, bird competitions, and more.

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Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

Held in Harlingen on an annual basis, the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is a five-day event featuring vendors, seminars, presentations, workshops, youth activities, and guided field trips. This birding festival is typically held in the fall and provides dry, desert habitats to the west with coastal habitats to the east.

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