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Monday, January 22, 2018

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GCBO December e-news
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

December, 2014

Holiday Open House

Friday December 5
Shop from 10:00AM to 6:00PM
103 Hwy 332 West, Lake Jackson

Please join us for our annual Open House & Holiday Sale at the new Cecilia Riley Avian Conservation Science Center. Nature gifts for all ages at great prices and some yummy Christmas treats to eat as well. It's a Tax Free Day and members also receive their regular 10% discount on top of that! A savings of 18% while still contributing to bird conservation programming. Can't get by GCBO? Check out our offerings on-line at or call the office for that special book order or to get an Adopt-A-Hummer certificate.

Can't get by our store? - You can still support GCBO while you shop at no cost to you! When you order online from, please order through Amazon Smile and indicate GCBO as your charity of choice. will donate a percentage to GCBO as a result of your purchase. For information, visit Amazon Smile online.

It's Time for CBCs!

The 115th Christmas Bird Count will begin on December 14, 2014 and run through January 5, 2015. This tradition began in 1900 through the efforts of the early conservationist Frank Chapman who proposed a count of birds rather than the traditional Christmas hunt which resulted in the slaughter of thousands of birds. This first Christmas Bird Count involved only 27 birders but today there are over 2,000 CBCs held in the U.S., Canada, and 19 other countries. Data from these long term counts allow researchers and conservation biologists to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. To find a count near you check your local bird stores, Audubon Chapters, and bird clubs. CBCs in Texas are listed on the a Houston Audubon Website.


Birds on the Bayou - Tickets On Sale Now

On the evening of December 11, GCBO will host our annual fundraiser, Birds on the Bayou. This year we will be having this event at our new Cecilia Riley Avian Conservation Science Center at our headquarters in Lake Jackson. Finger foods, exotic cheeses, and elegant desserts will be served. There will also be a silent auction, door prizes, and live music by Sam Harriss. $50.00 per person tickets may be purchased at GCBO or Duckie & Grackle Gallery or by calling 979-480-0999. We are looking forward to sharing this evening with you!


GCYO Visits Surfside Marsh

On a recent cold and windy Saturday, the Gulf Coast Young Ornithologists braved the elements to search for the elusive birds of Surfside Marsh. On arriving after the short drive from GCBO, the rails were immediately very vocal and very close although out of view. A little patience and within 10 minutes all were rewarded with good but all too brief views. Listening to the rails call back and forth and being so close to them was clearly a thrill for all the GCYO members. While waiting for the rails, there were a lot of Nelson's Sparrows flitting through the reeds. They eventually came very close and everyone got excellent views of what is a beautiful bird. Indeed watching them straddle the reeds and pop round the corner to watch the humans was quite amusing. After 90 minutes out in the cold and wet  decided to call it a day but we had one more thrill in store. As we were walking back to the warmth of the vehicles, two Ospreys flew over just a few feet above our heads! Other species seen included Tricolored and Great Blue Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, Savannah and Seaside Sparrows, Roseate Spoonbills, Willet and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Overall it was a great trip and we thank all the mentors and parents/guardians who came along and made the trip easier and more enjoyable. 


The GCYO will meet again at GCBO on Saturday, December 20 when we will be hosting a Christmas Bird Count specifically for kids. Participation is free and no prior birding experience is required. A count down pizza lunch will be provided! Check out our website for more information.


Your Year End Gift Will Do Wondrous Things for Birds

Birds make life better in so many ways. They are providers of invaluable ecosystem services, such as pest control, seed dispersal, and pollination. As the focus of bird watching, they help generate billions of dollars for international economies, and birds bring solace to our complicated world. Your support means we can continue our avian stewardship and land protection actions that save the birds you love and enjoy. I hope you recognize how urgent it is that our conservation practices continue. Because of increasing stresses on our environment, many bird populations are declining. So it is up to those of us who love birds to lead the effort to conserve them- please do whatever you can to help. Send your year-end gift today by clicking HERE.


Raptor Rodeo

This year we are expanding the timeframe and categories for our Raptor Rodeo event. Now you can compete within your region in Texas from January 15th through February 28th. Pick any day during that time period and go out and see how many raptors you can find. You can compete in one of five areas within the state including Far West Texas, Panhandle Plains, Prairies and Pineywoods, Heart of Texas, and Gulf Coast. The areas are delineated on the TPWD website.This citizen science project will help us get a handle on the number of wintering raptors and their general location and will support the Smith Point Hawk Watch. For a $50 donation you and up to three friends can spend a fun day counting raptors and knowing that you doing your part to help GCBO keep the Smith Point Hawk Watch active! For more information check our website.


Smith Point Hawk Watch Wrap Up

We wrapped up the 2014 hawk watch on November 15 with a total of 111,411 raptors. Wow! That was very close to breaking the all time record but not quite there. The season started out very slowly with the sole highlight being a Zone-tailed Hawk on September 13th which is a new species for the count. And then came the fantastic period of October 15th through 20th. We had six days in a row of more than 10,000 birds and two of those days had more than 20,000 birds! We typically get two or three 10,000 days and they are never back to back so this was an exceptional period. This late pulse of Broad-winged Hawks was also unique and we aren't quite sure why so many came so late. The typical peak for that species is in late September. Unfortunately after that spectacular week the count went back to being pretty ho hum. The total number of Broad-winged Hawks counted was 103,877 which broke our all time record though. It was definitely a season to remember.



Giving Tuesday

GCBO has joined #GivingTuesday, a first of its kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners - charities, families, businesses and individuals - to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world. Taking place December 2, 2014 - the Tuesday after Thanksgiving - #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping. Those who are interested in supporting GCBO's #GivingTuesday initiative can visit our website for more information. For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website or Facebook page.

Monthly Bird Banding at GCBO

Well December is here and the winter birds have settled in. Last month we caught this fiesty Belted Kingfisher, only the second time we have caught one at GCBO. December usually brings sparrows, goldfinches and other winter residents. Come see what we turn up this month! Bird banding this month will be on Saturday, December 20 from 8:00 until noon. Remember, the birds get up early so the earlier you are here the more you will see. Seeing birds in the hand is a great way to get kids excited about wildlife, but all ages are welcome. See the map on our webpage for directions or find a map by going to Mapquest or GoogleMaps. Note that some other navigators will not take you to the correct location.

Photo of the Month

This photo of a Nelson's Sparrow was taken by volunteer Mike Gray along Crab Lane in Surfside at the same spot where the GCYO went on their field trip. What a great bird and a great shot!


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