Audubon's Annual Bird-A-Thon

The Houston Audubon Society's annual Bird-a-thon is underway, and it runs through the end of April. As Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports, "birdwatching" is one of the fastest growing recreational pastimes in the country.

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"It's a multi-billion dollar business too. We're trying to let people know that this is an arm of eco-tourism for the Gulf Coast region that we're not fully tapping."

Sally Tyler at the Houston chapter of the Audubon Society says birdwatchers pump millions of dollars into the Gulf Coast economy every year, because of the phenomenal number of bird species that either live here or fly through here on their way to and from Central and South America. Tyler says birdwatching is a sport that practically sells and markets itself.

"It's cheap, it's easy, it's fun, it's challenging, more challenging than chess. There are more bird species viewable in the state of Texas than anywhere else in the United States."

In the Birdathon, teams of birders raise pledges, and compete to see who can spot and identify the most birds in a 24 hour span, but they can win prizes for other things as well.

"We have a prize for the folks that raise the most money, we have a prize for the person that sees the rarest bird, we have a prize for people that see the most birds in Houston Audubon sanctuaries."

Everything there is to know about the Birdathon, including rules for pledges and registration forms, can be found on the website Houston Audubon dot Org. Interested birders who don't have Internet access can have the forms mailed to them by calling the Audubon Society at 713-932-1639. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News

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