Last updated 1 day 23 hours ago
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.
Last updated 9 days ago
PORT ARANSAS – A visit to Port Aransas this week will be especially rewarding for Coastal Bend birders. We are fortunate to have numerous bird-related festivals throughout the year, and one of the most anticipated is the award winning annual Whooping Crane Festival. Its mix of interesting speakers with exciting field trips and workshops is hard to resist.
Activities begin on Thursday; on-site registration at the Port Aransas Civic Center allows entrance to all speaker sessions for a $20 fee. Trips, tours and workshops are priced separately.
The University of Texas Marine Science Institute will show off its recently opened Estuary Explorium. This interactive exhibit is designed to increase public awareness of the value and transitional nature of the estuarine environment. Jace Tunnell, director for the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve will present “A Bird’s Eye View of the Estuary Explorium” on Friday morning.
Another speaker I hope to hear on Friday is Cecilia Riley, executive director of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. Riley is a hero to bird species, and birders of the Americas. Her observations are certain to be insightful. Her presentation is “Conservation: Because Life is Better with Birds!”
Sammy King’s topic is “Revealing the Secrets of Secretive Marshbirds in Louisiana.” The secretive birds referred to are also common residents of the Texas coast, including rails, bitterns and gallinules. King will talk about the life history, nesting ecology, and habitats frequented by these often elusive birds.
Former photographer Joe Duff, founder of Operation Migration, heads the team of pilots that lead a new generation of whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida each year. “Ultralight Guided Migration of the Whooping Crane” will include stories of the challenges he and his fellow pilots have faced.
Other presentations pertaining directly to whooping cranes will be given by Mark Klym, Richard Zaidan, Wade Harrell and Joe Duff. George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, and two of his colleagues, veterinarian Barry Hartup and local biologist Liz Smith, will tell you “All You Ever Wanted to Know About Whooping Cranes.”
On Sunday morning, seasoned birders Joan and Scott Holt will lead a two mile walk through the Port Aransas Nature Preserve, formerly known as Charlie’s Pasture. The pace promises to allow for frequent stops to see birds and take photographs. Birding with this couple is always a privilege; among the many choices for wonderful field trips, this looks like an excellent one.
Proceeds from the festival benefit the conservation of whooping cranes through the International Crane Foundation. Additional information: 800-452-6278 or www. whoopingcranefestival.org.
Corpus Christi Caller Times
Phyllis Yochem, a Corpus Christi resident, has studied birds in Texas since 1960.
Last updated 18 days ago
Every February, Port Aransas showcases its rare and famous winter neighbors, the Whooping Cranes. The festival is open to avid or amateur birders, photographers, families, and anyone who loves the outdoors and nature-related activities. The 19th Annual Whooping Crane Festival is February 19-22, 2015 in Port Aransas, Texas.
Special guests at this year's festival include board members and staff from the International Crane Foundation (ICF), which is holding its annual board meeting in Port Aransas to coincide with the festival. Forty-nine board members, their guests and staff from across the U.S. will be attending the festival. ICF works worldwide to conserve cranes and the wetland and grassland ecosystems on which they depend. "ICF has been an integral part of the Whooping Crane Festival for the past 19 years," said Ann Bracher Vaughan, President and CEO of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce. "The chamber is delighted to host ICF's Board of Directors and staff during this year's festival, and we welcome them to 'America's Birdiest Small Coastal City!’"
A special evening session open to all festival registrants will feature Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of ICF and internationally recognized as the world's leading authority on cranes. Dr. Archibald and colleagues from ICF will discuss the life history of the Whooping Crane and conservation and recovery efforts for the species.
Festival attendees will have the opportunity to take a guided boat tour to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to view the cranes on their wintering grounds. The four-day festival attracts hundreds of birding enthusiasts each year and features world-renowned speakers, birding experts, and bird and nature bus tours. Exhibits, a free nature-related trade show, and interactive workshops and seminars are ongoing throughout the festival.
The festival is 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.
For more information and registration visit: www.whoopingcranefestival.org
. Early registration closes at midnight on Monday, February 9. On-site registration will open on Thursday, February 19, 1:30 p.m. at the Civic Center and run daily through the festival.
Last updated 1 month ago
The 19th annual Whooping Crane Festival early registration is open online. Take a look at the events and activities we've got lined up for our birders! Register early and see you in Port A!