Presentations and Workshops

The Birdiest Festival is proud to have a lineup of

experts this year to educate and entertain you.

Your attendance at up to 3 presentations

or 1 workshop is FREE with your Festival Registration. .

Additional talks are $5 and additional workshops are $15.  Please DO NOT select a talk that conflicts

with your choice of field trips.

“Prediction: The Next New Coastal Bend Birds"

Wednesday, April 21 12:30 to 1:30 pm


What will be the next new species found in the Texas Coastal Bend, where 475 species have already been documented? Join in this fun discussion and optimistic forecast about potential new firsts, based loosely on scientific study, and largely on wild, random guesswork.

Mel Cooksey, birder extraordinaire, of Corpus Christi is a lifelong birder with a special interest in bird status and distribution, migration trends, and subtle identification techniques. His special interests include shorebirds, sparrows, and flycatchers.

DENISE HOUSLER - Black-bellied Whistling

“A Birding Tour of the Texas State Parks in South Texas"

Wednesday, April 21 2:00 to 3:00 pm


Speaker Ben Horstman serves as the regional Interpretive Specialist for South Texas State Parks.His addiction to birding was a direct result of moving here and birding with the staff and volunteers at the parks.His favorite pastime is birding in the parks and natural places of Texas.

Take a birder’s tour of the State Parks of South Texas with an avid birder who visits them on a regular basis.The tour will go through each park and the birds you can find there in the different seasons, as well as how you can take an actual birding tour with the interpreters or volunteers in several of the parks.No need for binoculars on this tour, but be ready to take notes about some of the best birding spots in Texas!


“Outdoor Photography Workshop: Set-ups and techniques for
capturing stunning

nature images”

Thursday, April 22 1:00 to 3:00 pm 

Flip through any nature magazine and you’ll marvel at incredible images of birds, other wildlife, plants, and landscapes. Have you ever wondered how you can capture better photos? Most first-rate nature photos are the result of careful planning, appropriate equipment, and years of field experience. This presentation focuses on how to plan and prepare to shoot breathtaking magazine-quality images. Although weighted toward bird photography, it will include methods and techniques that will improve your overall photo skills for capturing images of wildlife and plants. Regardless of your skill level, you will benefit from the tips and information presented here.

Dr. Robert Benson is a long-time birder and naturalist, with years of experience in nature photography.  His photography appears in magazines, calendars, newspapers, and high-quality coffee table books. Robert’s enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious. He is a gifted teacher.

“Status and trends of

Nesting Colonial birds

along the Central Coast”

Thursday, April 22  3:30 to 4:30 pm


The Texas Coast supports a diverse population of nesting herons, ibis, gulls and terns. Today, it’s home to about 59,000 nesting pairs. Their numbers have fluctuated over time, depending on the availability of predator-free nesting sites, human disturbance, and many other factors. This program will discuss population trends from the late 1900s to show where we are today, with a look ahead to the future.

Brent Ortego is a retired biologist with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. He has served as compiler for the Breeding Bird Survey for Texas as well as editor for the Christmas Bird Count for Texas. Brent has conducted 15 years of research on hummingbirds.


“Native Plants for the Birds"

Friday, April 23 12:30 to 1:30 pm

Food, water, and shelter on your landscape can make a huge difference in the number and variety of birds you attract. Learn how to entice specific birds to your yard using native plants, while also learning which birds you are likely to find in South Texas.

Kris Kirkwood is a Texas Master Naturalist and Native Plant Society of Texas member, who has spent the last 18 years learning about native plant of the Coastal Bend, and how they provide food for our birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.


“The Resilient Whooping Crane: Challenges to Recovery"

Friday, April 23 2:00 to 3:00 pm

The Texas Coastal Bend is the winter home of the only naturally occurring flock of wild Whooping Cranes in the world. Learn the factors that have impacted the steady recovery of this endangered species, while discovering the efforts focused on overcoming the challenges they face. For decades, people, institutions, government agencies have worked to minimize negative impacts on the cranes. Hear what’s left to be done, and how you can help.

Dr. Liz Smith received her formal training at Corpus Christi State and Texas A&M Universities. For 16 years, she was employed as a research scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies. She recently joined the Whooping Crane Conservation Biologist in Texas with a specific goal of ensuring quality wintering habitat for the Whooping Crane as its’ populations continue to increase.


“Introduction to the LaZer Focused Field Guides to the Birds of North America"

Saturday, April 24 1:00 to 2:00 pm

Creative Director and writer Kevin Cochran describes the attributes and production processes he and his partners use to create a series of specialty field guides. Kevin and Information Director Mel Cooksey, along with Director of Photography Dave Allen, use high quality digital images and text to identify the easiest focal features to use when attempting to identify the species in their books. Their purpose is to accelerate the learning curve of developing novice and beginning birders, so they can become more proficient in identifying birds.

Kevin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English. He taught school for 14 years. Also, he was a full-time fishing guide that wrote a monthly feature column for Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine for over 22 years and published seven books about Texas fishing. His current project is the Lazer Focused Field Guides to the Birds of North America where six books are already finished and are available on Amazon in paperback and digital form. 


“Hawk Watching 101 Workshop"

Saturday, April 24 2:30 to 4:30 pm


Have you ever enjoyed the visual thrill of seeing a raptor kettle at a hawk-watch site? What’s a kettle? We’ll tell you. You’ll also learn how they count all those migrating hawks. Join Dane and Libby Ferrell for a two-hour workshop on how to be a hawk watcher. We will discuss hawk watching techniques, such as scanning, counting groups of migrating hawks, and identifying both close and distant flying raptors. Our workshop will culminate outside the meeting room as our group will scan the South Texas sky, searching for northbound raptors. So, bring your binoculars.

Dane and Libby are longtime raptor enthusiasts. They have counted raptors at the United States’ largest hawk migration site for HawkWatch International at Corpus Christi for the past 13 fall seasons.  When not counting hawks at home, they are chasing raptors, and other birds, around the country, Mexico, Central, and South America.