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Nature Festivals & Events

Nature Festivals & Events               February 25-28, 2016 Whooping Crane Festival News Brief (Port Aransas, TX) Attendees at the 19th Annual Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas last weekend “whooped it up” during four days of festival activities. Over 700 registered participants from 36 states and four countries–Canada, China, […]

Nature Festivals & Events









February 25-28, 2016

Whooping Crane Festival News Brief

(Port Aransas, TX) Attendees at the 19th Annual Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas last weekend “whooped it up” during four days of festival activities. Over 700 registered participants from 36 states and four countries–Canada, China, Mongolia and Australia attended the event. Many out-of-state participants travelled to Port Aransas specifically for the festival.
Special guests this year included board members and staff from the International Crane Foundation, which held its annual board meeting in Port Aransas to coincide with the festival.
Festival events included guided boat tours to view endangered Whooping Cranes on their wintering grounds at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, photography workshops and field trips, birding boat and bus tours, a nature-related trade show, and children’s art exhibit. Birding experts were available at area nature sites to assist visitors in identifying the 110 bird species that were observed over the weekend. A highlight at this year’s festival were the world-renowned speakers presenting at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute. The Whooping Crane Festival is the only place where the public can interact with representatives from all four Whooping Crane conservation and reintroduction projects and learn about current recovery efforts.
Speakers included representatives from Wood Buffalo National Park and Operation Migration, both located in Canada; the International Crane Foundation, headquartered in Wisconsin; and a biologist from Mongolia who presented on the endangered cranes in his country. “We saw a dramatic increase in attendance at the speaker sessions this year,” said Ann Bracher Vaughan, President and CEO of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce. “I believe the diversity of topics and internationally recognized speakers attract festival attendees from across the country.” Friday’s evening session, featuring speakers from the International Crane Foundation, set a record attendance for any presentation during the festival’s history.
One festival attendee commented, “I’m starting to do the things on my Texas bucket list and attending the Whooping Crane festival was one of them! The Whooping Cranes are an unbelievable treasure to your area, and I hope they continue to bring joy and prosperity to the well-deserved community of Port Aransas. It was truly an outstanding event that I will pass along to all my friends–makes me proud to be a Texan!”
The festival was sponsored by Cheniere, Eagle Optics, HEB, Port Corpus Christi, and Swarovski Optik, as well as many local partners, and is proud to be a nature-related and educational festival which stands out as “one of a kind,” focusing on conservation and recovery of one of our most endangered species.

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CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & VISITORS BUREAU 403 W. Cotter l Port Aransas, Texas 78373 l 800-45-COAST or 361-749-5919

Whooping Crane Festival Registration Now Open

Birders are Flocking Online to Register Early

20th Annual Whooping Crane Festival

February 25-28, 2016

Port Aransas, Texas or (800) 45COAST

(Port Aransas, TX) The annual Whooping Crane Festival scheduled for February 25-28, 2016.  As the festival has grown over the years, so has the variety of nature related activities and experiences, and this year is no exception.

Festival spotlight: Whooping Crane Experts – Round Table 
Learn about current Whooping Crane conservation initiatives during this panel discussion with representatives from the different Whooping Crane populations across North America.
SESSION: Saturday, February 27 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Panel members:
Dr. George Archibald, International Crane Foundation (panel moderator)
Dr. Felipe Chavez-Ramirez, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
Joe Duff, Operation Migration
Dr. Wade Harrell, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Dr. Sammy King, USGS Louisiana Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
Dr. Liz Smith, International Crane Foundation

Dr. George Archibald, renowned world crane expert from the International Crane Foundation is returning to the festival. A variety of other specialized and noteworthy presenters will speak on topics ranging from cranes that are being researched in Mongolia, the Texas Whooper Watch Program, and Operation Migration that was established over ten years ago to introduce a flock of cranes to Florida via a guided ultralight airplane. These are very interesting topics you do not want to miss! Rounding out the presenters will include talks on conservation, marshbirds in Louisiana, nesting grounds of the Whooping Cranes in Canada as well as their wintering grounds on the Texas Coast.

The four-day festival attracts hundreds of birding enthusiasts each year and features birding experts, boating excursions, as well as guided bird and nature bus tours. Exhibits, interactive workshops and seminars, photography workshops and a free nature-related “Bird’s Nest” trade show are also included.

For more information visit

About Port Aransas & Mustang Island Birding

The Coastal Bend of Texas, where the lower Gulf Coast bends into a long crescent, is one the birdiest places in Texas and boasts more than 150 nature and birding sites. Port Aransas boasts it’s designation of the ‘America’s Birdiest Small Coastal City’, with five sites on the Great Texas Birding Trail. Located at the convergence of the migration superhighways, the Mississippi and Central flyways, the area including Port Aransas and Mustang Island are the perfect place to view hundreds of different bird species as they stop and refuel before heading north or south. Many stay and winter in Port Aransas. From the natural wetlands, inlets and miles of beaches and dunes, to the rock jetties, piers and boats, the area offers dozens of perfect vantage points to view all the birds that call Port Aransas and Mustang Island “The Nest of Texas.”

To View or down load a registration form (pdf) click on the link below:

19th Annual Whooping Crane Festival Registration Form





Butterfly Festival







October 29 – November 1 , 2016

21st Annual Butterfly Festival

One of the most biologically diverse areas in North America sits along the border, between Texas and Mexico, where the Rio Grande winds its way toward the Laguna Madre. The Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV), in deep South Texas, encompasses no fewer than 11 different types of habitat, including tidal wetlands and riparian forest; and this region is home to more than 1,200 different species of plants, 500 species of birds, 200 vertebrate species, roughly 300 species of butterflies, and over 90 species of dragonflies!

The Rio Grande Valley has earned worldwide recognition for its outstanding butterfly and birding spots, inviting thousands of visitors each year to discover its remarkable assortment of preserves, refuges, nature parks, trails, and more.

This year, the National Butterfly Center is honored to host the 18th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival. Our goal is to provide attendees a fulfilling and rewarding experience. From October 31 – November 3 , 2015, attendees will spend 3 days exploring renowned public lands and private properties with world-class trip leaders and expert guides. The Festival is taking place during prime butterfly season, when you may reasonably expect to see 60 or more species in a day. For more visit



Red-crowned Parrots







November 2-6, 2016

23rd Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

Back in 1994, eco-tourism and nature festivals were a relatively new and burgeoning concept. That year, the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the forming of a committee of enthused citizens, and the first Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival was scheduled for November 3-6, 1994.

The Festival was an immediate success with 750 participants from throughout the nation and abroad. A winning formula combined field trips to birding hotspots throughout the Valley, seminars and keynote lectures by internationally renowned birding experts, an active trade show, and engaging educational programs for children.

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is recognized by the American Birding Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and birding experts throughout the nation as a leader in the field of ecotourism. The Festival has served as a model for events around the world. It has been touted in national, international, and specialty publications—The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Audubon, Southern Living, Bird Watcher’s Digest, WildBird, Australian Birds, Birdwatch UK—and more.

For more visit




 Past Events





Wild in Willacy 2016

October  2016 – Dates Pending



Below are the links to different areas of the event… if you have any questions, or would like

to sign up for any of the events please feel free to email or call us at 956-689-1864







Have a great afternoon & hope to see you at Wild in Willacy 2013!!