Hotter than Hell Birding Competition

Hotter than Hell Big Day Birding Competition

Presented by Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council

See for yourself just how HOT Galveston is for birding!

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

Contest Categories
Big Day (24-hr): June 23 – June 24, Noon to Noon
Half-Day (12-hr): June 23, Noon to midnight or June 24, 12:00am to Noon

Participants will help build citizen science data on eBird during one of the least birded times of the year. Event proceeds will support GINTC’s Galveston Bird City Texas initiatives. 

Don’t forget to join us for the count party and awards presentation immediately following the competition. Full details will be provided upon registration. 


  • 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 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.
  • A checklist of expected species will be provided to team captains to help with your efforts in both scouting and during the event.  We have outlined the expected species and have designated several others as being rare at this time of year.  For those species highlighted as rarities and any others that are not on the checklist we ask that teams document the encounters in both eBird checklists and on a physical write-up form that will be provided during the countdown event.  Photographic documentation is highly recommended for rarities to ensure data integrity for the HtHBD effort.  Detailed descriptions with emphasis on features and characteristics that eliminate more expected species for the identification are helpful to ensure correct records are being entered into the eBird dataset.

For the purposes of the GINTC Hotter than Hell Big Day, the “day” ends at 12pm on Monday, 24 June 2024. Teams can list birds encountered between 12pm on Sunday, 23 June and 12pm Monday, 24 June.

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. Physically pointing out birds between vehicles is allowed.
  • 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 or if you are participating in a full or half-day.
  • 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 throughout 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 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 held at Palisade Palms, beginning at noon on the 24th. 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. As an annual event 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 Visit Galveston’s website, GINTC’s website and other birdy-grapevines we all access.
  • The “GINTC HtH Big Day team of 2024” and “GINTC HtH Half-Day Big Day team of 2024” will be determined by the “council of elders” in a closely guarded, but highly transparent process.


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 for both the full and half-day options. Each team member is guaranteed an event t-shirt in their preferred size provided they register prior to June 13th. After that date, shirts will be provided based on availability. Registration closes Friday, June 21st. Teams must 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 June 6th will be recognized on the event shirt. 

Support Your Favorite Team

TEAM: Raven Lunatics

TEAM CAPTAIN: Cynthia Hughes


TEAM CAPTAIN: Greg Whittaker

TEAM: Eaglefang

TEAM CAPTAIN: Gray Whittaker

TEAM: Iffy Empids

TEAM CAPTAIN: Clayton Leopold

TEAM: Soon to be TANagers

TEAM CAPTAIN: Anna Deichmann

Sponsored By

Susan Califa


Mark Staskauskas

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