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Birdwatchers flock to Laughlin

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Recently, Team XL opened its gates to the Birding the Border festival, a birdwatching event hosted by Texas A&M that takes place each spring in Val Verde and Kinney counties, Texas.  

The tour supports ongoing efforts to integrate base activities with federal, state and local community interests.  

"Our aim at Laughlin is to integrate base development and activities with federal, state and local communities," stated Col. Kevin Davidson, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. "By fostering these partnerships, we can enhance our operational effectiveness and strengthen the bonds between the military and the public we serve." 

Team XL aims to forge a strong, supportive relationship with the local community by leveraging resources, sharing expertise, and offering networking opportunities such as these. 

“Bird watching is a nonconsumptive outdoor activity that anyone can do,” said Brandon Nooner, 47th Flying Training Wing safety office wildlife biologist. “It takes nothing but curiosity to get started. It is a growing hobby that brings millions of dollars to Texas and stimulates local economies including our own by way of the local birding festival, Birding the Border.” 

The Birding the Border festival takes place at the heart of the Central Flyway and at the intersection of three different ecoregions. The Central Flyway stretches from the Canadian Prairies to the Gulf of Mexico region. This strategic location offers avian enthusiasts a unique opportunity to observe a diverse array of bird species in the southwest Texas regions. 

“We sit on the western edge of the central flyway here, which dictates the typical species that move through this area on an annual basis, but there are other factors that can bring in vagrants from other areas,” said Nooner. “Juvenile birds for example tend to stray more from their normal migratory paths than adult birds, storms, drought, fires, and cold snaps can also shuffle birds around, so you never truly know what might show up.” 

During the tour, participants recorded an impressive total of 105 different species heard or seen throughout the day.  

“I am grateful that I was able to share the base with the participants on the tour and show them some of what makes this area special to me. Sharing the base with our neighbors and showcasing the natural value and biodiversity we have here on base shows that we are good stewards of the land and not just an airfield.”