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.

The Eight Founding Partners

On April 23, 1993, eight organizations formed an alliance to protect birds and habitat in and around the Gulf of Mexico. The efforts of our Founding Partners resulted in the establishment of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and our Site Partner Network. Guided by the nation-wide Partners-in-Flight initiative, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s conservation plan encompasses key migratory bird stopover habitat in the U.S. and Mexican states that border the Gulf of Mexico.

Houston Audubon Society
The Nature Conservancy of Texas
The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana
Phillips Petroleum Company
Amoco Corporation
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

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.

GCBO first offices were located in Houston, Texas. In 1999 the Dow Chemical Company donated 34 acres of land in Lake Jackson, Texas, which remain as GCBO’s headquarters. The land, set by the Buffalo Camp Bayou, was previously a Dow owned employee park.
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 still located in Lake Jackson, Texas, where we have built 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 in the US, Mexico, and Cuba. The Tropical Forest Forever Fund, a fairly new land acquisition funding initiative, has now placed the organization’s efforts in Central and South America as well.