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Gulf Coast Bird Observatory (GCBO) September e-news
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory (GCBO)

September, 2012





In this Issue:


Join Us for XHX


A Banner Year for Kites


Whooping Crane Trapping


Birds and Bottomlands Blitz to Return in October


Improving Habitat for Quail in Southeast Texas


Join GCBO at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival


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If you found this e-newsletter interesting, please consider taking the next step and becoming a member or volunteering for one of our many outreach activities.  If you are already a member, thank you for your support!  Check out ourWays to Donate page for more opportunities to support our conservation efforts. 

Photos courtesy of Mike Gray, Greg Lavaty, and GCBO staff.
View on GCBO website. 

September 2012

Join Us for XHX


Autumn is hummingbird season in Texas. Please join us for our annual Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza on September 8th and 15th, 8am to noon both Saturdays. Come watch hummingbird banding, adopt a hummingbird, browse the Nature Store, walk the nature trails, or buy a locally grown plant to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. On the 8th GCBO biologist Susan Heath will discuss winter hummingbirds and on the 15th Master Naturalist Barbara Burkhardt will discuss hummingbird gardening. If you would like to volunteer to help with this event, please contact Jessica. We still need volunteer support for our youth activity table and to assist guest parking. All volunteers will receive a free specially designed T-shirt.

A Banner Year for Kites

With August behind us, it's time to take stock of the kite migration at Smith Point. We are having a great year for Swallow-tailed Kites. So far 134 have been counted. This is only the fourth year we've tallied more than 100 and the average is 82. We've also tallied quite a few Mississippi Kites. 6509 to be exact. That's a lot of kites! Come out in September and enjoy the Broad-winged Hawk show. This species peaks in late September and we could easily have over 10,000 in a single day after a cold front. Saturday, September 1st is the annual Smith Point Volunteer Fire Department Fish Fry from 11:00 to 2:00. If you want to support a good cause, stop by and get a plate and then come visit us at the hawk watch.

Whooping Crane Trapping


Whooping Crane Trapping Team - Dave Brandt (USGS), Felipe Chavez-Ramirez (GCBO), Barry Hartup (International Crane Foundation), Mark Bidwell (Canadian Wildlife Service), Lucy Patterson (Wood Buffalo National Park)

During the first week of August the Whooping Crane tracking team successfully captured 10 fledgling Whooping Cranes in Wood Buffalo National Park. This was the team's third and final season to mark fledglings on their Canadian breeding grounds. Because of the isolated nature of the Whooping Crane breeding areas a helicopter must be used to locate potential chicks. After setting the helicopter a safe distance away from the crane family, and then traversing marshes and Boreal Forest ridges, the field team slowly makes their way to the flightless chick. All cranes were banded with unique color codes and fitted with GPS transmitters. The transmitters will allow the team to follow the chick as they make their first migration to Texas for winter. The data collected from marked Whooping Cranes will identify important stopover areas during migration and allow the team to access causes of mortality at different phases of its life cycle. Felipe and other non-Canadian members of the capture team were there at the invitation of the Canadian Wildlife Service to support this cooperative project.

Birds and Bottomlands Blitz to Return in October

GCBO is happy to join forces with our local Cradle of Texas Master Naturalists to offer a morning in our sanctuary to study nature and learn more about the importance of the Columbia Bottomland hardwood forest which is a critical link in many species’ life cycle. We will resume the Birds and Bottomlands Blitz in October when the topic will be Trees and Shrubs. The leaves will still be on the deciduous plants and many have fruits, nuts or berries. Identification can be tricky but you will learn the basics and feel confident knowing some of the most common species. This will be the first BBB for this season with programs each month on the second Saturday morning. The full schedule will be posted on the GCBO homepage soon.


Improving Habitat for Quail in Southeast Texas

The Nature Conservancy was awarded a $10,000 grant from GCBO to improve Bobwhite Quail habitat at the Sandyland Preserve in the Texas Piney Woods. They used a variety of methods to accomplish this goal. The use of prescribed fire is the single most important tool for the restoration of Bobwhite Quail and Longleaf Pine.  Prescribed burning reduces the underbrush in the forest and stimulates grasses, forbs, and wildflowers needed for Bobwhite reproduction and survival. Mechanical harvesting and chainsaw felling are used to thin dense slash pine and loblolly pine stands and provide openings for natural regeneration of longleaf pine. Trapping and removal of feral hogs was also necessary. GCBO is proud to be able to support quality habitat work.

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

Join GCBO at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen, Texas on November 7-11. This year's festival includes three keynotes along with seminars on hard to identify birds like shorebirds and sparrows, field trips, a tradeshow, and several events including a silent auction, big sit and reception. For more information check the Rio Grande Vally Birding Festival website.


If you are an ExxonMobil employee or retiree and would like to help us raise funds through their VIP Group matching grants program by donating four hours of volounteer time, please let us know! | Telephone 979-480-0999 | Contact Us
This e-mail was sent by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
103 W. Hwy 332, Lake Jackson, TX  77566


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