Birding experts and amateurs will flock to the George Mitchell Nature Preserve on April 29, 2023, to participate in the biggest birdwatching competition in Texas: The Great Texas Birding Classic. During the annual competition, teams across Texas compete to see who can identify and count the most birds during a specific window of time. The Woodlands Township has registered a team this year, sponsored by Visit The Woodlands.

The team will compete in the 'Big Sit' category and spend 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. birdwatching, documenting as many birds as they can see and hear in George Mitchell Nature Preserve. Birders of all ages and skill levels are invited to join the team at the Creekside West Trailhead of the Preserve on Saturday, April 29, to help spot and identify birds. 

Bird flying through the trees in The Woodlands

Participating in The Great Texas Birding Classic helps fund nature tourism and avian habitat restoration, enhancement, and acquisition projects across Texas. Each year, winning teams select which projects they would like to be funded by Conservation Grants, provided by The Great Texas Birding Classic. In its first 26 years, the tournament has donated $1,116,000 to different conservation projects around the state.

Anyone who wants to birdwatch with The Woodlands Township team can bring their lawn chair and binoculars to fully enjoy the birding experience, and The Woodlands Township will have binoculars to borrow, if participants don't bring their own. All team members are required to register for the event, which is free and open to the public. 

“The way that The Woodlands was designed makes it a perfect hotspot for birding,” said Joy Klumpp, Texas Master Naturalist, Avid Birder, and Administrative Assistant for The Woodlands Township Parks and Recreation Department. “The dedication and commitment that The Woodlands area has to maintaining native tree species and vegetation throughout the community really lends itself to excellent birdwatching opportunities.”

The fun of birding will continue after The Great Birding Classic ends, as The Woodlands Township expands offerings for birders in the area. The Woodlands was selected as one of three winners to receive a grant from the National Parks and Recreation Association and Niagara water during the 2022 Niagara Perk Your Park Contest. This grant will be used to build a bird blind in the George Mitchell Nature Preserve, so birders can enjoy the activity year-round.

This new birding location will add to the extensive list of birding hotspots around The Woodlands. Texas is one of the top places in the world for birding, and a variety of bird species can be seen in The Woodlands throughout the year. The Woodlands Township 'Big Sit' team, sponsored by Visit The Woodlands, will work together to see and hear all of these birds during The 27th Great Texas Birding Classic on April 29, 2023. 

"Birding is a fantastic activity for all ages, and we can't wait to expand our birding offerings with the new bird blind in George Mitchell Nature Preserve, and to participate in The Great Texas Birding Classic," said Elizabeth Eddins, Executive Director of Visit The Woodlands. "We're very excited to sponsor The Woodlands Township's team for the biggest birdwatching tournament in Texas. This is just the start of birding in The Woodlands!"