The 2010 GTBC Tropicbirds. Bottom, R-L: Spencer Hardy, Chip Clouse, Andy Johnson. Middle, R-L: Neil Gilbert, Harold Eyster. Top: Marcel Such.

What do warbler fallouts, beef jerky, and June bugs have in common? Nothing, really, except they were all crucial elements of last year’s Tropicbirds team. As you surely know, the Tropicbirds is the ABA’s team of young birders competing in the Great Texas Birding Classic and the World Series of Birding to raise money for its youth education program. But, the Tropicbirds is much more than that—I wouldn't hesitate to describe it as the most raging experience known to young birders. Imagine: a van loaded with scopes, food, and several young birders, speeding through the Texas piney woods in the wee hours of the morning; an excited scramble of various body parts as five young birders attempt to exit the same door simultaneously to view a Hudsonian Godwit; and a late-night feast on vanilla ice cream to celebrate cracking the legendary barrier of two hundred species in a day. You know it sounds like fun. So, apply. See the ABA’s website for more details.


White-tailed Ptarmigan. If you go to Camp Colorado, you might see one. If you don't, you definitely won't.

Perhaps I was mistaken to claim that the Tropicbirds is the most raging experience known to young birders. After all, the ABA-run camps this year—Camp Colorado and Camp Lower Rio Grande Valley—are basically the same thing, except prolonged and with more young birders involved. I attended Camp Colorado last summer and am still recovering from the experience. The birding was, of course, fantastic—how could it not be? Brown-capped Rosy-Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, Mountain Plovers, Williamson’s Sapsuckers…I could tell stories all evening. But the birding wasn’t everything. As a group, we learned about orienteering and native culture, explored montane woodland around our base at the Catamount Institute, and engaged in passionate debate over the identity of birds in a wicked photo quiz. And those were just the organized activities—in the free time, I learned to play euchre, engaged in massive pinecone wars against other campers, and possibly participated in the braiding of a male camper’s hair. You know it sounds like fun. So, sign up. See the ABA’s website for more details.