A week from Wednesday, I will be lifting off in a jet from LAX headed for Harlingen, Texas. The reason? Well, birding of course, but there's more to it than that. I was selected to be on the American Birding Association (ABA)/Leica Tropicbirds team, a team of four young birders competing in the Great Texas Birding Classic. The Great Texas Birding Classic is a famous twenty-four bird-a-thon. Our purpose is to raise funds for the American Birding Association's youth education program. The ABA runs a fantastic youth education program. They run the Young Birder of the Year Contest, in which young birders are encouraged to take field notes, draw birds, write about birds, and photograph birds; they publish A Bird's-Eye View, a student newsletter written by young birders; they organize Young Birder Conferences in prime birding locations around the country; and they provide scholarships to young birders to attend birding camps and conferences. Sponsoring the Tropicbirds helps fund all these good causes.
Some of my old issues of A Bird's-Eye View.
The ABA's youth education program has greatly encouraged and influenced my birding over the years. Three years ago, I won the Young Birder of the Year Contest, and two years ago I was awarded a scholarship to attend Camp Chiricahua in the birding paradise of southeastern Arizona. Now is my chance to give back and support the program!
So far, I've raised about $1,850 for the American Birding Association's youth education program. I'm still about $150 short of my goal of $2,000 - please donate and help me reach my goal!
Will your name be added to my pledge form???
How to donate: If you wish to donate, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, full address, and pledge amount, and I will add you to my pledge form. In mid-May, after the competition, I will mail you a report and bill with payment instructions. There are two different ways to pledge: flat rate and amount per species that we find on our big day (we'll probably see around two hundred species). You can also pledge online at http://www.americanbirding.org/. I'd much rather you pledge directly to me so I can keep better track of how much money I've raised. If you do pledge online, please check the "Great Texas Birding Classic" box and write "Through Neil Gilbert" in the comments field. Thanks!
Also, a BIG thanks to everyone who has already donated. I greatly appreciate it! Look for the report in your mail in mid-May.
Our route on May 3rd will take us along nearly one hundred and fifty miles of the Rio Grande from Salineno to South Padre Island . We will bird such famous birding spots spots such as Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and South Padre Island.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas is the only spot in the United States to find many Mexican species that barely push over the border into Texas. Some of these include Green Jay, Ringed Kingfisher, White-tipped Dove, and Common Paraque. We will be looking for these, and many others as well. I've never been to Texas before, so many of these will be life birds for me.
Our drivers and mentors will be Jeff and Liz Gordon, two extraordinary birders from Delaware. Our team consists of the following young birders:
Saraiya Ruano, 17, of Colorado Springs, CO. Team Captain
Hope Batcheller, 16, of Petersburgh, NY.
Neil Gilbert, 15, of Orange, CA. Me!!
Nico Sarbanes, 14, of Baltimore, MD.
Please consider sponsoring me and pledging. Thank you!