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The sight and sound of birds signal the start of the spring season. The Great Texas Birding Classic, held in mid-April, is the longest competitive birding event in the US.

Participants from around the world come to witness many neo-tropical songbirds, among the nation's most colorful and popular, during the tournament's journey up the Texas Gulf Coast.

The world's first birding competition for blind and visually impaired, the new Outta-Sight Song Birder Tournament, began here. It was developed for a group of visually-impaired people in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, who developed their ability to identify birds by sound.

"Although the concept of blind birding may sound unusual, the best birders often first identify the presence of a bird by its call and then look to see the bird," says Shelly Scroggs, Birding Classic coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Teams must have one sighted driver and record keeper, but they may not assist with bird location or identification.

The Classic pairs teams of birders with corporate sponsors to raise conservation money. In the past decade, the Great Texas Birding Classic has raised a half million dollars to conserve wildlife habitat on the Texas coast, protecting critical stopover spots for songbirds that migrate between the Americas.