Gulf Coast Bird Observatory June 2020 E-News

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
A Note from Our Director
Thank you for your great support during these crazy times! My last call for support during this Covid19 pandemic was answered by your kind donations and online sales. Thank you, and I hope you are well and staying safe! 
We are back to work at our Lake Jackson headquarters, but it will remain closed to visitors for now. We have not set a time to reopen yet and will keep you updated. Out field work is mostly back in full swing as well which is wonderful… we have missed checking on the birds!
I hope you have been able to enjoy some of our “online” programs the past two months. We have been able to reach more and more people this way and have had some great feedback. We will continue to build on that, but we also can’t wait till we can see you all here in person! We are not yet sure about XHX… we will have to make a decision soon and hope to have the best information available to do so. Please check this eNews for details on other upcoming programs. 
It will take some times before all is “back to normal” for us all it seems, and we still need your help with so many of our events cancelled. Any donations help, please shop our online store and spread the word! 
Thank you!!
Events Canceled/Postponed:
Bird Banding is canceled for June.
The Spring Native Plant Sale is canceled, but you can come buy plants by setting up a date/time by calling ahead.  
Summer Bird Camp is canceled, but look for our family Saturday Bird Camps in the Fall (scroll down for more info).
GCBO Headquarters and Plant Nursery is still NOT open to the public, and no firm date has been set yet. Watch for emails and Facebook posts.  
GCBO Grounds will open to the public on June 1.
Mark your Calendars for July 18 & 19
Virtual Bird Bash 2020 is an online event that will connect people all over the world to Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. Attendees will get to know GCBO by meeting our staff, volunteers, and even our local birds! Watch as we band birds, tour the property, and interview our world-class bird experts. Show your support for our conservation work by making a donation, buying our merchandise, bidding in our auction, or even becoming a sponsor! All proceeds go to GCBO and our conservation efforts. Take a look at the event schedule here.
We’re on YouTube!
With the Stay-at-home order, you might be missing some of your favorite birds or wishing you could take a walk around the GCBO trails. Worry not! We’re creating more and more online content to connect you with nature. We’ve got a YouTube channel now where you can watch relaxing birding videos, fun educational videos, and videos about GCBO. Take a look here.
Beach Nesting Birds Are Back
Left: J5 “Janet” protecting her one day old chicks. Photo by Morgan Barnes.
Right: VJ and E5 “Earl” freshly hatched chicks with new bands. Photo by Morgan Barnes.
The Beach Nesting Bird Project is being led by our Coastal Biologist, Taylor Bennett, and assisting her is GCBO intern, Morgan Barnes. The program monitors and protects three species of beach nesting birds: Wilson’s Plover, Least Tern, and Black Skimmer. These species are considered species of high concern due to loss of habitat, climate change, and human disturbance. They monitor three sites: Bryan Beach, Matagorda Beach, and DOW Chemical Plant A.
Beach nesting season is in full swing for the Wilson’s Plovers at Matagorda Beach. Taylor and Morgan have located 17 nests and four mystery broods. Adult birds and chicks are banded to help keep track of the pairs and broods. This season, we have banded 13 adults and 7 chicks so far. There are currently 11 small downy chicks running around and we are expecting to see more within the next couple of weeks as more nests start to hatch. It will be another month before the chicks are ready to fly.
The Least Terns are having a tough season. The colony has already failed in two spots due to over-wash from storms and flooding. There are only 20 adults with 6 incubating nests at the moment.
Due to the pandemic, GCBO has been unable to check on the Dow Black Skimmer colony. Luckily, we have two volunteer Dow employees, Keith Wise and Ron Weeks, to help keep track of them weekly. There are currently 1232 adult Black Skimmers with around 20 nests as well as 11 Least Tern nests and 5 chicks.
Come Visit Our Native Plant Nursery
Chris Kneupper, our wonderful nursery volunteer, has been hard at work planting weeding and watering to bring you all of your favorite native plants. Thanks Chris!
A new specimen was found on the GCBO grounds of the native Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) that has an unusual light-pink flower color. We have named the selection as “Bayou Blush” and it is being propagated by cuttings. It and other varieties of Turk’s Cap (both the small native type, and the giant Mexican type) will also be available when the facility is again open to the public.
The Oystercatcher Diaries
Our biologists are back out and looking for Oystercatchers! The American Oystercatchers are paired up, nesting and raising chicks along the Texas Gulf Coast. We’ve documented several nests and chicks and we’re excited to see more! These birds lead exciting lives, commonly nesting on bay islands where their nests are subject to predation, overwash, and other disturbances. To keep up with all of the American Oystercatcher news, check out our blog here and look at the Oystercatcher Diaries!
Saturday Bird Camp
Instead of our Summer Bird Camp, this year we are hosting five Saturday Bird Camps throughout the fall! Each Saturday Bird Camp will feature a different curriculum such as bird banding, beach day, and wildlife rehabilitation. This event is open to kids 7-12 and their families. Each camp day (sold separately) costs $5 per child and $10 per adult, or a $40 family package. Email for more information or to register. We hope to see you there!
Join GCBO’s Online Bird School
Welcome to GCBO’s Online Bird School!
Stuck at home in your nest? In these trying times, we thought it would be a cool idea to publish some online lessons about birds, conservation, and more!
Kids and adults who are staying home can become birders, researchers, and wildlife advocates from their living rooms. Right now, we have ten courses, all of which are completely free of charge.
Subjects include Birding, Avian Research, Coastal Cleanup and more. For smaller bird lovers, there’s the children’s book Winnie the Wilson’s Plover. For more experienced birders, there’s birding flashcards.
We are working on even more lessons, so check back in every few days for something new. We hope that these lessons brighten your day and keep you in touch with nature.
Visit Our Online Nature Store
You can now buy GCBO apparel and merchandise on our website! Help us, help birds, and help yourself to some awesome merchandise!
Right now on the Online Nature Store, you can find hats, shirts, patches, and American Oystercatcher adoptions. Check them all out here:
Bird Banding Canceled for June
Due to Covid 19, Bird Banding has been canceled for the month of June. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Adopt an Oystercatcher Pair and Keep Up With All the Mating Season Drama!
It’s time again folks! We found the first American Oystercatcher nest on January 31. 12 & unbanded are leading the way as usual. Don’t miss your chance to keep up with all the drama. If you would like to support this project (and we hope you would!) you can adopt a pair of oystercatchers for a $100 donation. You will receive a certificate for each member of your pair with their banding data and Sue will update you monthly on your pair’s progress throughout the nesting season. When possible she will send you photos of nests and chicks. You can adopt your pair here: adopt a pair of birds or call and talk to Tricia or Sue. Thanks everyone for your continued support of this important project!
Bird Calls with Cliff Shackelford
Step into the world of birds with the radio show Bird Calls. Host Cliff Shackelford, an ornithologist from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department answers all of your burning bird questions. This program airs the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. but you can listen to past episodes here.
Have you updated your email preferences yet?
We’re working on fine tuning our email list so that you only get emails that matter to you. At the very bottom of each email there is an “update profile” or “unsubscribe” link you can click that will take you to a page where you can make your selections. We now have specific lists for things like volunteer news, special announcements, events, bird of the month, and more. Please take a moment to update your preferences if you haven’t already. Thank you!
How Can You Help?
You can help support GCBO’s mission in several important ways!
Save a Tree and some $!
We are trying to go as paperless as we can to save some trees and quite a bit on printing and mailing costs. We would love if you would let us email you instead of snail mailing a hard copy of any correspondence, including your future copies of the Gulf Crossings. Please email or call Tricia to say: “Hey, GCBO, please start emailing me things! Here is my email…”   Thanks!   
DONATE NOW on our website to support our conservation programs.
BECOME A MEMBER and receive our twice a year newsletter and a 10% discount in our nature store.
Make an in-kind donation to support our sanctuary needs.
We are in need of a few more 12’ x 12’ pop up tents/canopies. If you have one or more in good contention, we will put them to good use for kid’s camp, XHX, and Brew on the Bayou!
Rain Gauge
With all the rain from Imelda we realized we need a good quality rain gauge so we can keep track of how much rain we receive at our headquarters.
Black Oil Sunflower Seed and Chicken Scratch
We feed year-round here at GCBO, and during migration at Quintana. We stock our GCBO feeders to help augment natural foods, and this also helps our monthly banding research project. 
One Gallon Plastic Pots
We can use your used 1 gallon nursery plant pots for the Growery. We go through a lot of 1 gallon pots when potting up new plants. Let’s recycle them here. We’ll take one or a hundred! 
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