Historically, the GCBO was founded as a partnership to accomplish conservation through avian research and the protection of coastal habitat utilized as stopover by migratory songbirds. In 1992, to obtain funding for land acquisitions along the Chenier Plain of Texas, Houston Audubon Society (HAS) approached Phillips Petroleum Company for support. Phillips responded enthusiastically with a $60,000 challenge grant. About the same time, The Nature Conservancies of Texas and Louisiana (TNC), were also working to protect the important habitat of the Chenier region. Amoco Production Company had pledged $200,000 and land valued at over $700,000 in support of that effort. In 1993, the conservation organizations (HAS and TNC) merged the two complementary initiatives, forming the framework for what is now the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory--a long-range effort to protect birds and improve and protect their habitat along the entire Gulf Coast.
After operating for four years as a joint endeavor between HAS and TNC, in October 1996, the founding partners of GCBO drafted a ten-year strategic plan for the observatory. Following that plan, the GCBO incorporated in the State of Texas and received 501(c) status determination as of September 19, 1997. As an independent non-profit organization, the GCBO has become recognized as an innovative organization, designing and conducting a significant number of large conservation projects, including migration studies, habitat enhancement, land acquisition, regional habitat mapping, and others. Our permanent headquarters are located in Lake Jackson, Texas, where we are working to build an Interpretive Center and Research Center for public education and volunteer-based avian monitoring programs. In addition, the organization will continue to serve a network of site partners around the Gulf with a wide range of land protection activities, birding, and research opportunities.