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GCBO December e-news
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

December, 2013



You Search...We Give!


In this Issue:


Holiday Open House


Birdies for the Birds


First Annual Raptor Rodeo


Smith Point Hawk Watch Season Wrap-up


Your Year End Gift


Dow Workday

Monthly Bird Banding at GCBO


Member Photo of the Month


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 our Ways to Donate page for more opportunities to support our conservation efforts. 


Photos courtesy of Mike Gray, Tony Leukering, and GCBO staff.
View on GCBO website. 

December 2013

Save the Date - Holiday Open House

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

Please join us for our annual Open House & Holiday Sale at our Lake Jackson Nature Store. 10:00am to 6:00pm. Nature gifts for all ages at great prices. 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.

Birdies for the Birds

On Monday March 24, 2014, GCBO will host our 2nd Birdies for the Birds golf tournament at The Wilderness in Lake Jackson, TX. This tournament is a four person scramble with check-in at 11:30 and tee time at 12:30. We are currently looking for sponsors and players. For only $150 your business or organization can be a hole sponsor where your information will be prominently displayed at a hole of your choice. Sponsorship and registration information is available on our website. We need some help identifying new players so if you are a golfer, consider asking your friends to join you in a fun day of golf that supports our birds. We anticipiate this being a great fundraiser for GCBO, but we can't do it without your help!Contact Carol for more information.


 First Annual Raptor Rodeo

Our first annual Raptor Rodeo will be held in January 2014 and everyone can participate! This citizen science project will help us get a handle on the number of wintering raptors and their general locations and will also help support the Smith Point Hawk Watch. The rules are pretty simple. Form a team of 2-4 people. Register with GCBO. Pick any day in January and go out and see how many raptors you can find. Easy! Your $50 donation for participation will help fund the Smith Point Hawk Watch. You can double your impact by getting matching funds from your employer or getting birdathon type pledges from family and friends. Help us help the birds and have a day of fun while you're at it! For more information check ourwebpage.

 Smith Point Hawk Watch Season Wrap-up

We wrapped up the 2013 hawk watch on November 15 with a total of 42,915 raptors. We broke the all time Smith Point record for Osprey (101) and Peregrine Falcon (135), but the definite highlight of the season had to be the dark Broad-winged Hawks. We recorded a total of 113 of these beauties, all immatures except for one adult. One of Tony's photos of an immature is shown above. Dark Broad-winged Hawks breed in the far northwestern part of species' range which is in Alberta Canada and thus they typically migrate down the Rockies. A single dark-morph Broad-winged Hawk at an eastern hawk watch is considered a gem and we typically get one or two a year at Smith Point. To have 113 in one season is an incredible phenomenon. Experts feel an early season winter storm forced the birds on a more easterly migration route this fall. We would like to thank all the volunteers and sponsors who helped with the hawk watch this fall - we couldn't do it without you!

Your Year End Gift Will Do Wonderous 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. Thriving birds indicate thriving ecoystems that include clean air, clean water, abundant food and great habitat and those are places where people thrive, too. In addition to the birds and other wildlife, coastal and tropical ecosystems protected by GCBO programs provide services that support economies, public health and community resiliency. 

Help Us Help More Birds - Send Your Conservation Gift Today by clicking HERE.


Dow Workday

Just before the first blast of winter chill and immediately following a big two-day rain, eight hardy employees from the nearby Freeport offices of the Dow Chemical Company spent a day at GCBO building the second leg of a new wetland boardwalk. Though the work area was a bit muddy, the boardwalk is another 45 feet longer - just 30 more to go, plus a photography deck and we'll be done. Regular GCBO volunteers Mike Gray and Billy Heck provided guidance, equipment and materials. Next time you visit you can keep your boots dry - unless of course you volunteer to help with the third leg of the walkway! 

Monthly Bird Banding at GCBO

It's December and the winter birds have set up shop. Last month we caught a Ruby-crowned Kinglet that was banded here in December 2012! We also caught a new bird for our station, the Belted Kingfisher shown above. This young female was just as surprised as we were when she turned up in one of the nets! Come join us from 8:00 til noon on Saturday, December 21st for our monthly bird banding session and see what turns up in the nets.Remember birds wake up at dawn so your best chance to see the most birds is early. 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 month's photo of the month comes from Jennifer Wilson, biologist at the midcoast refuge complex. She got this great photo of a Whooping Crane at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge that was first spotted on November 10 with a large flock of Sandhill Cranes. Because of Jennifer's excellent photos showing the color bands on the bird, GCBO Conservation Science Director, Felipe Chavez was able to identify this crane as one that he banded as a chick in summer 2012 at the Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada.

Bird Tip of the Month: During the cold winter months, birds need lots of high energy food to help them survive the cold so put out some suet cakes for them. The birds will love them and you will enjoy watching them come to feed on them.

Our Vision is a healthy ecosystem with abundant space for birds to survive and thrive around the Gulf of Mexico. | Telephone 979-480-0999 | Contact Us


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