The recently completed 20th annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival was a tremendous success attracting thousands of people and generating tens of thousands of dollars for the local economy. However, the continued success of the Birding Festival depends on the continued presence of birds that reside and migrate thru deep South Texas.
One of the greatest threats to birds here in the Rio Grande Valley is the expansion of vast wind turbine industrial complexes, which nationwide kill hundreds of thousands of birds annually.
Steve Thompson, Birding Festival Speaker, "What struck me flying in was one of the biggest threats seems to be the wind towers, I don't understand why people would put wind towers in a place that has the highest concentration of migratory birds in North America." One of the most sought after species by birdwatchers is the resident aplomado falcon.
The species was extirpated from South Texas a half century ago due to egg collecting, habitat destruction and the harmful pesticide DDT, but a successful effort initiated some 25 years ago by the Peregrine Fund and others has reestablished the bird in its former range, and now some 45 pairs make their home in southernmost Texas. Steve Thompson was refuge manager at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge when the aplomado restoration began, and while proud of the success he is concerned about the future of the endangered falcon, as poorly sited wind turbines have proven to be particularly lethal to birds of prey. Thompson, "Out in Altamont and other places in California wind towers are killing thousands and thousands of birds of prey." Thompson and others are particularly concerned about a planned wind turbine industrial complex slated for construction adjacent to critical nesting habitat on the Bahia Grande Unit of Laguna Atascosa near Laguna Vista. Steve Thompson, "Having towers right around aplomado nests and territories is just kind of a recipe for disaster." With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore