This year's Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival was simply wonderful. Last November I was on a cruise in Costa Rica and Panama, forcing me to miss this great birding event for the first time in many years. Getting back down to the Valley this year reminded me why it remains one of my favorite birding destinations ever. Lots of my affinity for this event stems from the wonderful volunteers who run the show and their inexhaustible hospitality. It's been such a pleasure to work with those folks over the years. My love for the lower Rio Grande Valley isn't solely due to these fine people. The birds there have their own charismatic draw.