Monday, November 14, 2005

The New Birding

Monday, November 14, 2005

You've probably heard that tangerine is the new black. Well butterflying is the new birding.

During the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, which concluded yesterday in Harlingen, Texas, I was surprised at the explosion in the interest in butterflies. I've noticed the butterfly wave growing slowly over the years, but this trip to Texas it seems to have hit critical mass. There's a great new spiral-bound guide to the butterflies of Mexico (handy for those tough South Texas butterflies), lots of new binocs specifically designed to be good for BOTH birding and butterflying, and almost every birding site we visited during the festival had its own native plants garden for butterflies. Pictured is the butterfly garden at the new Bentsen State Park vsitors' center, where Parker Backstrom was helping us to sort out unusual species from among the hundreds of queens that were nectaring on the flowers.

John Tveten, the longtime Texas naturalist and author,even told me that butterflies were getting so popular that he's moving on to moths, a field where we still don't have all the North American species identified. BTW, if you want to dip a toe into butterflying, I suggest Kenn Kaufman's excellent field guide. It's easy to use and pocket-sized.


On November 15, 2005 at 5:37 PM KViz said...

Some friends and I did the Butterfly Festival in Harlingen a few years ago...with a little birding on the side! Your pictures of the park brought back some great memories.
One of the festival field trips was a Noctuid Night to do some "Mothing". We drove out to the middle of nowhere...and with a white sheet and some black lights...had one of the coolest field trips I've ever been on.
Keep up the great blog!! I'm really enjoying it.