Attendees at the Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas will learn even more about the endangered species this year, since for the first time in the festival’s eighteen year history, the superintendent of Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, will be one of the featured speakers. Rob Kent who oversees the nesting grounds of the cranes, will give a special presentation on Friday evening, February 21 at UTMSI. With aerial discovery in 1954 of the cranes nesting within Wood Buffalo National Park, advocates of the Whooping Crane were elated. Their mystery had been solved as to where the cranes were nesting and that they were in an already protected area. Don’t miss this presentation on the protection and recovery from the nesting grounds in WBNP.

Registration is now open for the annual Whooping Crane Festival scheduled for February 20 – 23 and trips are filling fast! As the festival has grown over the years, so has the variety of nature related activities and experiences, and this year is no exception. Sponsored by Cheniere, Eagle Optics, HEB, Port Corpus Christi and Swarovski Optik, as well as many local partners, this nature related, educational festival stands out as “one of a kind,” focusing on conservation and recovery of one of our most endangered species. With many local partners assisting and participating (the City of Port Aransas, Fennessey Ranch, Fisherman’s Wharf, Kohootz Etc., La Copita Ranch, Port Aransas Art Center, Queen’s Line, Inc., South Jetty Newspaper and The University of Texas Marine Science Institute), this  festival will get you up close and personal to the wonderful nature that surrounds us in Port Aransas.

Dr. George Archibald, renowned world crane expert from the International Crane Foundation is returning, as has become tradition over the years.  A variety of other specialized and noteworthy presenters will speak on topics ranging from The Reintroduction of Whooping Cranes to Louisiana and The Eastern Partnership that was established over ten years ago to introduce a flock of cranes to Florida. These are two very interesting topics you do not want to miss! Rounding out the presenters will include talks on plovers, shorebirds, photography and Are Birds and Humans Different?

Returning by popular demand this year is renowned professional photographer Larry Ditto. If nature photography is on your life list, be sure to catch Larry Ditto’s trip aboard the Mustang to capture beauty on the water. You’ll have the opportunity to take photos of bottlenose dolphins, birds, beautiful landscapes, and the historic Lydia Ann Lighthouse. Larry will help with techniques and composition as the encounter is happening. Prior attendance at one of Larry’s photography workshops is recommended, however all levels of expertise are welcomed.

The four-day festival attracts hundreds of birding enthusiasts each year and features world-renowned speakers, birding experts, boating excursions, as well as guided bird and nature bus tours. Exhibits, interactive workshops and seminars, a charming children’s art exhibit, and a free nature-related “Bird’s Nest” trade show will be included in this year’s Festival.

Early registration is open online at www.whoopingcranefestival.org. Some trips are already full due to the popularity of the festival. Interested parties are encouraged to take advantage of early registration online.

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 its designation as ‘America’s Birdiest Small Coastal City’ and hosts 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  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.”