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Entrance to all keynotes, seminars and workshops are being offered for one flat price during the online registration period. This Kiskadee Pass is $25, and allows you entry to all those offerings as you please. A huge savings from individually priced admissions, you can purchase the Kiskadee Pass only during open registration. During the Festival, individual tickets will be sold for admission. Field trips are not included in the Kiskadee Pass.



with Nathan Pieplow
Free with Kiskadee Pass / Wednesday 2pm – 5pm

Most attempts to teach bird sound identification rely primarily on memorization. This workshop will take a different approach. Just as beginning birders learn the different parts of the bird and how to distinguish colors like “buff” and “rufous,” we will study the different parts of a sound and how to distinguish tone qualities like “burry” and “polyphonic.” We will learn to read spectrograms, and acquire a common vocabulary for describing bird sounds. Then we will apply these skills to some significant bird sound identification challenges in the region. No matter your level of experience, this workshop will help you listen to sounds more analytically, describe them more accurately, and use them more effectively in identifying birds.

Nathan Pieplow is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America, just released this March, a book that has been more than a decade in the making. A blogger about bird sounds at the website, Nathan has been a student of this field since 2003. He is one of the authors of the website “Colorado Birding Trail”, and a former editor of the journal Colorado Birds. He currently teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Let Nathan help you visualize bird sounds!


with Caleb Arellano & Simon Kiacz
Free with Kiskadee Pass / Thursday 2pm – 3:15pm

Birds Eye View Of Red-Crowned Parrots Of Brownsville
The Avian Ecology Lab assesses the population of Red-crowned Parrots nesting in the city of Brownsville. Over 30 nest attempts have been documented within the last two years. Monthly roost counts are taken to compare population estimates during the breeding and non-breeding seasons. In addition, breeding activity at 20 artificial nest boxes is monitored.

Caleb Arellano grew up surrounded by woods, birds, and prairie reserves in a small village in northwestern Illinois. Exploring the natural world around him cultivated his interests in understanding human impacts on local environments and avian communities. He is now a master’s student at UTRGV in the Avian Ecology Lab under Dr. Karl Berg working on breeding behavior and biology in different parrot species.


The Tejano Parrot Project
While the Red-crowned Parrot in South Texas has been a regular fixture for over three decades, biologists still don’t know much about their ecology. The Tejano Parrot Project has set out to answer many questions we have regarding the parrots – including their current population trend and status, habitat usage, and potential threats to their population here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The project also sets out to create a network of local citizen scientists which will help with the monitoring and conservation of the species for years to come. With this information, we can help to create management recommendations to help minimize the threats to Red-crowned Parrots throughout the Valley.

Simon Kiacz is a transplant from Michigan to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Interested in all things outdoors, especially birds, he has worked with herps in Michigan and with White-eyed and Black-capped Vireo’s in central Texas. Work with an environmental consulting company brought him to South Texas and he hasn’t left since. He is now a graduate student at Texas A&M University (Whoop!) where he is documenting the current population status, habitat usage, and potential threats to a Rio Grande Valley native, the Red-crowned Parrot.




with Nathan Pieplow
Free with Kiskadee Pass / Thursday 6:15pm – 8pm

Identifying birds by sound is a crucial skill that can be difficult to learn. Author Nathan Pieplow has devised a system that lets you identify bird sounds without having to memorize them. The Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America lets you look up sounds, the way you look up words in the dictionary. The key is learning to visualize sounds. Nathan’s clear, practical instructions for visualizing sounds will make you a better listener. You will hear details in sound that you hadn’t noticed before, and you will have the vocabulary to describe those details. Nathan will help you identify birds by their sounds, but he will also help you understand birds by their sounds. For the sounds of birds are a language, carrying messages from one bird to another. To understand the language, and decode the messages, all you need is the right dictionary.

Nathan Pieplow is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America, just released this March, a book that has been more than a decade in the making. A blogger about bird sounds at the website, Nathan has been a student of this field since 2003. He is one of the authors of the website “Colorado Birding Trail”, and a former editor of the journal Colorado Birds. He currently teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Let Nathan help you visualize bird sounds!

Birding the world - SeminarBirding the World

Free! Open to the Public / Friday 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm (20 minute sessions)
Come tour the world, with a different country presented every 20 minutes, at the RGVBF auditorium. Speakers will be vendors and tour guides who have first-hand knowledge of the destinations, the specialty birds of that country, and the other attractions available to birders. The presentations start at 2pm on Friday.

Check the schedule for the countries to be highlighted this year, then plan to attend the destinations on your bucket list. Possible countries include: Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Portugal, South Africa, and Uganda. While there will be time for questions at the end of each talk, you can also connect with the presenters at their booths in the Birders Bazaar.


with Noah Strycker
Free with Kiskadee Pass / Friday 6:15pm – 8pm

In 2015, bird nerd Noah Strycker of Oregon became the first human to see more than half of the planet’s bird species in a single, year-long, round-the-world birding trip. Anything could have happened, and a lot did. He was scourged by blood-sucking leeches, suffered fevers and sleep deprivation, survived airline snafus and car breakdowns and mudslides and torrential floods, skirted war zones, and had the time of his life. Birding on seven continents and carrying only a pack on his back, Strycker enlisted the enthusiastic support of local birders to tick more than 6,000 species, including Adelie Penguins in Antarctica, a Harpy Eagle in Brazil, a Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Thailand, and a Green-breasted Pitta in Uganda. He shared the adventure in real time on his daily blog (, and now he reveals the inside story. This humorous and inspiring presentation about Strycker’s epic world Big Year will leave you with a new appreciation for the birds and birders of the world.

Noah Strycker, is Associate Editor of Birding magazine, the author of three well-regarded books about birds, and a contributor of photography and articles to all major bird magazines as well as other media. He also blogs regularly for the American Birding Association. Strycker set a world Big Year record in 2015, and his book about the experience, Birding Without Borders, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017. Strycker has studied birds on six continents with field seasons in Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Australia, Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, and the Farallon Islands. He also works as a naturalist guide on expedition cruises to Antarctica and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, literally spreading the inspiration of birds from pole to pole. His first book, Among Penguins, chronicles a field season working with Adélie Penguins in Antarctica (Oregon State University Press, 2011) and his second, The Thing with Feathers, celebrates the fascinating behaviors of birds and human parallels (Riverhead Books, 2014).
Visit his website at:


with Jonathan Wood
Free! Open to the Public / Saturday 11am – 12noon

Jonathan Wood and his vast collection of stunning hawks, owls, eagles, and falcons are a star attraction, with many national TV appearances. Jon is a Master Falconer, a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, and along with his wife Susan, an integral and fascinating part of the Festival.

Do not miss this free offering. Imagine sitting in the Harlingen Auditorium and a hawk with a 4-foot wingspan flies right over your head! Afterward, visit more birds of prey in the Birders Bazaar (for a fee you can even hold one and get your picture taken!).


with Nancy McAllister
Free with Kiskadee Pass / Saturday 2pm – 3:15pm

Join Nancy McAllister on her journey through a “Mom’s Big Year” of birding the U.S. Nancy traveled to hotspots from coast-to-coast to see as many birds as possible throughout 2016. She encountered beautiful birds and fascinating people along the way. A Big Year is no small feat for a mom managing all the duties that go along with three young children, a husband and two unexpected new jobs! Returning to her life-long passion for nature and travel proved to be both exhausting and exhilarating. Hear more about how Nancy juggled life, work, and family and used her birding adventures to heal, renew, and rediscover herself.

Nancy’s adventures are sure to inspire! Come and hear about how fueling your passion for nature can change your life too!

Nancy McAllister is a professor of environmental science at the University of Maryland and a biologist at the National Bird Banding Laboratory. She loves combining a career in field work/research and education. Nancy became an avid birder in the mid-1980s in her home state of New Jersey. Since then she’s worked for The Nature Conservancy, the Smithsonian Institution and started a non-profit watershed association. Recently, Nancy has been working with Wildside Nature Tours and did her own 2016 Big Year of birding, a Mom’s Big Year. She holds an M.S. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development and lives in Ellicott City, MD with her husband, Paul, and their three young children.


with Nancy McAllister, Noah Strycker, Laura Keene, Greg Miller, Ann Nightingale & Mary Gustafson
Free with Kiskadee Pass / Saturday 3:30pm – 5:00pm

Ever thought of giving a big year a run? Want to know what your crazed birder friends who HAVE done a big year have gone through? Join our panel of big year veterans who can share their humorous stories, their sage advice, and their woulda-shoulda-coulda plans for their own big years. We have all seen Greg’s exploits in the movie The Big Year. Nancy will share a working mom’s perspective. Ann and Mary were focused on a personal big year in one geographical area. Noah can relate his grinding challenges to conquer the world, and Laura amassed her frequent flyer miles in the ABA area. While each had a very individual and personal focus, they all found a way to play the game. At the end of the round table discussion, the audience will be able to ask our panel any questions that would be beneficial to you and your quest.