Hotter than Hell Big Day Birding Competition


JUNE 13 - 14, 2021


Hotter Than Hell

Big Day Birding Competition

on Sunday, June 13 – Monday, June 14!

See for yourself

just how hot

Galveston is for birding!

This birding Big Day will be a fun, fast-paced semi-competitive race to see which team can identify the most bird species in Galveston County in 24-hours. As the day heats up, so will the competition, awarding the winning team bragging rights and the Hotter than Hell Big Day trophy.

Teams will consist of 3 to 5 members and should practice safe distancing throughout the event.

The event is presented by the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council and Galveston Island Brewing (GIB), which will host the awards presentation on its outdoor grounds at day’s end. GIB will provide a free pint of beer to all participants 21 years of age or older.

Participants will help build citizen science data on eBird during one of the least birded times of the year. Event proceeds will support Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council. 

See the rules, guidelines, team application and sponsorship opportunities below.



  • Birds must be conclusively identified by sight or sound. A bird identified as one of a species or group (i.e., scaup, either greater or lesser) may be counted as a species if no other bird in that group appears on your list.  For example: Dowitcher counts as one bird.  Short-billed Dowitcher and Dowitcher sp. still counts as just one bird species.
  • Birds of questionable origin, and introduced or reintroduced species may be counted providing that they appear on the current Texas Ornithological Society (TOS) checklist, and each population has been established in Texas for a minimum of ten years. For example; Black swan and Yellow-headed Parrot are uncountable under this rule.  Disputes over species validity will be settled by the “council of elders”.
  • Birds counted must be alive, wild, and unrestrained. Sick or injured birds may be counted, but permanently injured wild birds incapable of normal migration or seasonal movements (i.e., found or relocated to parks, yards, zoos, gardens, boat ramps, fish cleaning stations, or other unnatural settings where they may receive intended or unintended critical human support or protection) may not be counted.  Eggs or nests do not count as birds.
  • Electronic or recorded bird calls may not be used to attract birds or entice them to vocalize during the HtH Big Day or while scouting prior to the event. Bird tapes and mobile phone apps may be used to help in the identification of birds and may be included among your gear, but may not be audible in the field.  Tapes and mobile apps are restricted to vehicles or earbuds/headphones and may only be used as a reference when teams are not in the field, the sound is not projected aloud, or teams are traveling between destinations.  Recorded bird calls may not be used while teams are actively birding.  Pishing and other bird sounds made by mouth are acceptable.
  • Spotlighting is prohibited at all times during HtH Big Day and while scouting prior to the event. Small hand-held flashlights can be used as a light source as needed for personal safety (i.e., while walking on trails).  Q-beams and other bright hand-held lights are not allowed.
  • Only 5% of all passerine species recorded by a team may be identified by nocturnal flight calls.
  • All birds must be identified by at least 2 team members of a team. Identification made by only one team member can never be counted.  95% of all birds recorded by a team must be identified by the entire team.  The remaining 5% may be identified by two or more team members.
  • It is not necessary for all team members to identify the same individual bird. As long as all team members encounter and identify a species during the day, the bird can be counted.
  • Disturbance to nesting species increases exponentially in relation to the number of people who know about a site. Don’t tell other people the location of any nesting species.  Nest harassment is discouraged.

Time Frame

For the purposes of the inaugural GINTC HtH Big Day, the “day” ends at 12pm on Monday, 14 June, 2021. Teams can list birds encountered between 12pm on Sunday, 13 June and 12pm Monday, 14 June.

Geographic Region

Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council is interested in promoting the natural resources of Galveston County; therefore, the geographic limit for birds that can be counted for the HtH Big Day is Galveston County. We are interested in showcasing all areas of Galveston County and encourage teams to survey the entire county for this event.


  • All vehicles except aircraft (including drones), and airboats may be used.
  • Team members must remain at distances which permit direct, unamplified voice communication at all times. Voice contact is defined as shouting distance.  Electronic voice transmission in any form is prohibited.  This includes CB radios, hand-held radios, cell phones, texting, etc. for teams using multiple vehicles.
  • Participants are not required to travel in the same vehicle and are encouraged to obey social distancing recommendations in place at the time of the event. Physically pointing out birds between vehicles is allowed and encouraged to help with social distancing recommendations.


  • Teams consist of a minimum of three with a maximum of five members.
  • Teams can use a non-birding driver as an unofficial team member.
  • The registration fee for each team is $100 regardless of  the number of team members.


  • All team members must remain within voice contact of each other at all times.
  • Each of the members of the team must count only birds personally identified beyond a doubt.
  • Team members must be familiar with and willing to comply with these guidelines through the event.
  • No team may intentionally flush or drive into hiding any bird to prevent another team from finding it.
  • Team members must follow Federal and State laws; for example speed limits and laws against trespassing on private property. Please note that Texas is a private lands state, and trespassing is considered a serious offense.  Before the event, you must obtain permission from the landowner of any private land you plan to enter.  Do not enter the closed areas of public sites (i.e., closed portions of National Wildlife Refuges).


  • Teams are encouraged to share information with other teams prior to and during the event.
  • Any information received prior to or during the HtH Big Day may be used by teams. Hired guides are not permitted.


Each participant is required to maintain proper birding ethics at all times as defined in the ABA Code of Ethics.


  • Each team captain is encouraged to list sightings on eBird. In the spirit of expanding the citizen science value of eBird, the listings should comply with the typical standards of listing species accounts within a small habitat area with as much accuracy as possible.  This will likely require the team captain to enter multiple lists through the Big Day.  The purpose of entering these lists on eBird is not to verify the team lists for this event, but rather to build the valuable data that eBird compiles.
  • Each team captain is encouraged to share their lists with their team participants and the GINTC to help us build our knowledge of the Galveston area’s year round nature tourism potential. An email address will be provided to team captains as the event nears to help with this information sharing.
  • Teams will submit a filled out checklist at the countdown event hosted by Galveston Island Brewery, beginning at noon on the 14th. Checklists will include team members contact information and will be used to identify the overall diversity that Galveston County has to offer at what’s considered the worst time of year for birding, but we all know and appreciate as “hot” all the time.
  • Teams should emphasize rare and unexpected species in their lists as well as interesting and unique experiences they had during the event. We want to make this an annual event and having your adventures on record as recruiting tools is a huge benefit.
  • Team checklists will be accepted as submitted and the top efforts will be recognized during the countdown event.
  • For official purposes, the top performing teams will be determined after the event and showcased in multiple ways through Galveston’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, GINTC’s website and other birdy-grapevines we all access.
  • The “GINTC HtH Big Day team of 2021” will be determined by the “council of elders” in a closely guarded, but highly transparent process.


  • GINTC is producing a trophy of unparalleled splendor to commemorate this event. The trophy will encapsulate the spirit of this activity and gild it in the tradition of the Stanley Cup.  It will be a legacy prize emblazoned with the names of championship teams through the ages.
  • GINTC’s Hotter than Hell Big Day trophy will make the rounds with the team members in the manner of the Stanley Cup, with each proud team member having a day to spend with the enviable bragging rights to this achievement and we encourage a social media documentation of these adventures.
  • Through the remainder of the year, the trophy will be proudly displayed at the GINTC storefront, the Galveston CVB display and other community outreach events to help showcase the grandeur of Galveston’s incredible birding during the worst time of the year.
  • The team raising the most funds for GINTC will be recognized via social media outlets, the GINTC website and our quarterly e-newsletter.


Registration Closed


As a Team Captain we ask that you please complete the ONLINE TEAM REGISTRATION FORM, which includes the names and email addresses of all team members. The team registration fee is $100. Each team member will receive an event t-shirt provided they register prior to May 28. Registration closes Friday, June 11. Teams may have a minimum of 3 members and a maximum of 5 members, including the Captain. 


With several levels of sponsorship, we hope there will be a broad range of interest among team supporters, friends and birding enthusiasts. To facilitate the sponsorship process, GINTC will email each Team Member a SAMPLE SOLICITATION MESSAGE suitable for distribution to potential sponsors or to be posted to social media. Those interested in making a sponsorship donation will be asked to complete a SPONSORSHIP FORM and then directed to GINTC’s secure PayPal portal for payment. We hope this process makes it easy for Team Members to solicit sponsors and help reach our fundraising goals. Businesses and individuals sponsoring the event at $500 or more before May 28 will be recognized on the event t-shirts. 


Sara and Mark Bettencourt

Introducing our Hotter than Hell Teams

TEAM: Raven Lunatics

TEAM CAPTAIN: Cynthia Hughes

TEAM: Gregs, Snegs and Whibs Oh My!

TEAM CAPTAIN: Greg Whittaker

TEAM: League City Rollers

TEAM CAPTAIN: Kristine Rivers

TEAM: The Red Hot Knots

TEAM CAPTAIN: Scott Buckel

TEAM: Iffy Empids

TEAM CAPTAIN: Clayton Leopold

TEAM: Bolivar Beach Bum Birders

TEAM CAPTAIN: Todd Crawley