Zoo kids soar in Texas birding competition

The "Dallas Zoom" team focuses in on a bird during the 12 hour competition.

The “Dallas Zoom” team focuses in on a bird during the 12 hour competition.

Armed with binoculars and clipboards, eight youth volunteers from the Dallas Zoo set out on a 12-hour birding expedition May 2, and observed an impressive 72 bird species in Dallas County. Their eagle-eyed observations earned them First Place in the Great Texas Birding Classic, a statewide birding competition hosted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The competition heats up on White Rock Lake.

The competition heats up on White Rock Lake.

Known as “Dallas Zoom,” the team is made up of an elite birding commando squad of eight 11 to 16-year-olds who volunteer as Dallas Zoo Jr. Zookeepers and Conservation Guides. They’ve been practicing for months – sharpening visual acuity, exercising auditory discernment, mastering taxonomic order, and crafting precision descriptions like, “See that green tree; see it? Over there!”

IMG_0892They competed with more than 100 registered teams from across Texas and bared witness to what must be the most compelling drama in all of natural history, the spectacle of avian migration.

They documented bird species and population densities and submitted their observations to the global ornithological database, eBird.

The competition encourages birding as a source of life-long learning and enrichment and supports wildlife conservation. Dallas Zoo’s sponsorship will help fund bird habitat conservation projects statewide.

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