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  • [narrator] The following is an excerpt from the Texas

  • Parks and Wildlife television show.

  • (lawnmower}

  • [John Brotherton] My family is crazy.

  • [Sarah] Birds.

  • [David] Birds.

  • [Luanne] Birds.

  • [John] Birds.

  • (Music)

  • [Narrator] MEET THE BROTHERTON FAMILY OF DAINGERFIELD,

  • TEXAS. THEY'RE CRAZY. CRAZY ABOUT BIRDS.

  • [SARAH BROTHERTON] I do look at birds a lot.

  • [JOHN Brotherton] I'm always looking at birds.

  • [DAVID Brotherton] I do it everyday.

  • [John] Well there's some teal.

  • [David] Got some teal?

  • [John] Cinnamon teal.

  • [David] Cinnamon?

  • [Narrator] THE ENTIRE BROTHERTON FAMILY, DAVID, LUANNE,

  • SARAH AND JOHN, SPEND A LOT TIME TOGETHER. WHETHER IT'S CALLING CARDINALSOR PLAYING

  • GAMESTHE BROTHERTONS DO IT AS A FAMILY.

  • [David] Whammo!

  • [John] There's a pigeon thing.

  • [David] Got it.

  • (Music)

  • [Narrator] DAVID IS THE FIRST BIRDER OF THE FAMILY. HE

  • STARTED SCOPING SPARROWS WHILE GROWING UP IN ARKANSAS. AS DAVID GREW, SO DID HIS INTEREST

  • IN BIRDS. BY THE TIME HE MET LUANNE, HIS HOBBY HAD TURNED INTO AN OBSESSION.

  • [DAVID Brotherton] I think the first time that I asked her if

  • she wanted to go bird watching I think she thought I was trying to do something else.

  • I think she was rather disappointed when I actually took her bird watching (laughs).

  • [Narrator] EVEN THE KIDS WEREN'T IMMUNE TO THIS CALL

  • OF THE WILD, GETTING STARTED WELL BEFORE THEY KNEW WHAT A BIRD WAS.

  • [DAVID Brotherton] When my wife was pregnant with John, I was

  • just learning to do my Barred Owl call. And when I would do it, the cat would meow, the

  • dog would bark, and John would kick mama.

  • [John] Least.

  • [David] Black-billed, black tern with a yellow tip.

  • See the yellow tip?

  • [John] Aw.

  • [Narrator] FOR ONE WEEK EACH YEAR, THE BROTHERTONS' HOBBY

  • TAKES THEM TO THE TEXAS COAST. THERE THEY JOINED OVER 100 OTHER BIRDERS FROM 10 STATES

  • AND 5 COUNTRIES, FOR THE GREAT TEXAS BIRDING CLASSIC.

  • [David] Rose-breasted Grosbeak is what John said.

  • [Troy Messina] One in the bushes.

  • [Narrator] THE CLASSIC IS THREE DAYS OF FRIENDLY COMPETITION

  • TO SEE WHO CAN FIND AND IDENTIFY THE MOST SPECIES OF BIRDS. THE $50,000 IN PRIZE MONEY

  • DOESN'T GO TO THE BIRDERS, IT GOES TO BIRD HABITAT PROJECTS CHOSEN BY THE WINNING TEAMS.

  • [LINDA CAMPBELL] The classic has been very successful, not

  • only in terms of making people aware of the great diversity of birds in Texas and in the

  • need for conserving habitat, but also in terms of raising money for habitat conservation

  • projects

  • [Sarah] It looks like a Marbled Godwit thing.

  • [Troy Messina] Short Billed Dowitcher. That's what it is,

  • Short Billed Dowitcher.

  • [Narrator] TEAMS OF "ROUGHWINGS", KIDS AGED 8 TO 13,

  • COMPETE ONLY ON THE FIRST DAY. WHILE THE ADULT TEAMS CAN BIRD FROM MIDNIGHT TO MIDNIGHT,

  • THE YOUNGER BIRDERS ARE LIMITED TO AN EIGHT HOUR DAY.

  • [TROY MESSINA] It's a test to see how good you are, and how

  • good other people are, and how good you are compared to them.

  • [SARAH ] I like it because it's outdoors, and it's

  • just fun.

  • [JOHN] Bunch of walking too.

  • [David] Let's go further on down guys.

  • [Narrator] BIRDING IN A CONTEST IS KIND OF LIKE SIGHTSEEING,

  • YOU DON'T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME IN ONE PLACE. THERE'S A LOT OF DRIVING… A LITTLE BIT OF

  • LOOKING

  • [John] I got a Blue Jay.

  • [Narrator] …AND A LOT MORE DRIVING.

  • [Sarah] Is that a bluebird, or a plane?

  • [Troy ] It looks like a plane. Yeah it's a plane.

  • [Sarah] They're not.

  • [David] They're not what?

  • [Sarah] They're Red Knot.

  • [JOHN Brotherton] When our family goes out, you're against each

  • other trying to find out the best birder but when you're a team.

  • [Sarah] Heron.

  • [John] Right. It's sort of funner because you're

  • working together as a group, and, you know you can give high-fives and stuff.

  • [David] Very good.

  • [Narrator] THE ADULTS HAVE FUN TOO.

  • [David] Way to go Miss Peggy!

  • [Narrator] BUT THEIR COMPETITION IS A LITTLE MORE INTENSE.

  • [David] Coots, little Blue Heron, Cattle Egrets, turtle

  • of some sort.

  • [Narrator] A FEW DAYS SCOUTING BEFORE THE COMPETITION,

  • SAVES TIME ONCE THE CONTEST BEGINS.

  • [DAVID B] Yesterday we got our ears turned to a Tropical

  • Parula. We spent 30 minutes at it yesterday, tomorrow we will spend probably about 10 seconds.

  • We'll hear it and go.

  • [Music]

  • [Narrator] WHEN THE CONTEST STARTS, THE BROTHERTON'S

  • TEAM IS ON THE ROAD EARLY…3 AM EARLY.

  • [David] What was that? White-winged Dove.

  • [Narrator] THEIR FIRST STOP IS AN HOUR AND A HALF LATER,

  • IN THE DARK,TO HEAR AN OWL.

  • [Narrator] BEFORE THE DAY IS OVER, THEY WILL DRIVE 400

  • MILES, CROSS FOUR COUNTIES, VISIT TWO STATE PARKS, TWO WILDLIFE REFUGES, THREE BIRD SANCTUARIES,

  • AND ONE GARBAGE DUMP.

  • [owl call]

  • [Narrator] WHILE THE EARLY BIRD MAY INDEED GET THE WORM,

  • THE EARLY BIRDER DOESN'T ALWAYS GET THE BIRD.

  • [DAVID ] We're at Falcon Dam and we're about 13 minutes

  • too early. It doesn't open till 6am. We're kind of waiting here, gonna try to go down,

  • we're gonna try to go down here and see if we can finds a Great Horned Owl.

  • [Luanne] There it is!

  • [Music]

  • [Luanne] Over there.

  • [David] We just got a Lesser Night Hawk.

  • [Luanne] Doing great. We got 14 birds already.

  • [David] Hey! Naw it's a dove, I'm sorry.

  • [Luanne] Pyrrhuloxia.

  • [David B] See him? Exposed right there. Ok. Well we're

  • getting some of the desert stuff. Look, you can see the shoulder patch.

  • [Luanne] Pied-billed Grebe.

  • [David] What? Is that a Great Egret out there in the

  • water Lou, flying across? Oh, there's an Eastern Meadowlark right there. There's a bird flying

  • over there. There's one pelican out there in the water way out there.

  • [Luanne] Almost 7:30 and we have 34.

  • [David] Just a hundred away from target.

  • [David] There's a spotted sandpiper. It's a Ringed.

  • [Luanne] That's number 80.

  • [David] Way to go!

  • [Luanne] 81!

  • [David] Good number of species but we're an hour behind

  • where we're supposed to be. We need some warblers ladies.

  • [Narrator] THE WARBLERS WOULD ELUDE THE TEAM FOR MOST

  • OF THE DAY, AS WOULD A DECENT MEAL.

  • [DAVID] I've had a can of sardines, a handful of Doritos

  • chips, and a Hershey bar.

  • [Cuckoo call, door shutting, tripod banging, bag zipping]

  • [Narrator] DESPITE THE FRANTIC NATURE OF COMPETITIVE

  • BIRDING, THERE IS METHOD TO THE MADNESS.

  • [DAVID B] Not many people know about the art of finding

  • a birdfirst you got to listen for it.

  • [Music]

  • [DAVID] Visually finding a bird can be really tricky,

  • you got to look for little movements. If all else fails you can do little sounds

  • to attract the bird.

  • [Bird calls]

  • [bird chirping]

  • [Narrator] NO BIRDING TRIP TO THE VALLEY WOULD BE COMPLETE

  • WITHOUT A TRIP TO THE BROWNSVILLE SANITARY LANDFILL.

  • [DAVID] We are not going to stay long.

  • [Narrator] THAT'S THE ONLY PLACE IN AMERICA

  • [David] Get the bird and go.

  • [Narrator] WHERE YOU'LL FIND THE TAMAULIPAS CROW.

  • [David] Are those grackles or are they the crows?

  • [Narrator] GARBAGE DUMPS ATTRACT A LOT OF BIRDS

  • [David] Got a Herring Gull there Lou?

  • [Narrator] AND ONLY THE MOST DEDICATED BIRDWATCHERS.

  • [David] Just wonderful.

  • [Narrator] SIXTEEN HOURS AFTER THEY BEGIN, THE GROUP

  • FINALLY MAKES IT TO THEIR LAST STOP.

  • [LUANNE] It's 7:35 and we have 157. And there's about

  • 5 or 6 birds right here that we want to try to get real quick.

  • [David] Go look right over the guy's scope. He's got

  • a Purple Gallinule, right over the guy's. Lou do you got anything?

  • [Luanne] Nope.

  • [David] Is that a Snipe? Is that a Snipe? Everybody

  • hear it? Let's go. Take your binoculars just look right over in those leaves. Oh there's

  • a Rail right there. Try for the Least Bittern one more time? One more time.

  • [Luanne] I think we're about finished now.

  • [David] We'd take a Brown Pelican if it flew over,

  • I don't think it's gonna happen.

  • [Music]

  • [Narrator] NO ONE IN THE FAMILY COUNTED ENOUGH BIRDS

  • TO WIN A TROPHY, BUT FOR ALL THE BROTHERTONS, THE GREAT TEXAS BIRDING CLASSIC WAS A HUGE

  • SUCCESS ANYWAY. THEY GOT TO SEE LOTS OF BIRDS, AND THEY GOT TO DO IT TOGETHER.

  • [DAVID] I thought that was a neat, neat thing to do,

  • be with family. No I'm sorry, I've got Barn Owl in my thoughts.

  • We're gonna get a Barn Owl. See I'm not done yet. You just think I'm done.

  • [Narrator] AFTER A WEEK OF CHASING BIRDS FROM BRAZOSPORT