GCBO was founded in 1992 to address declining bird populations through avian research and the protection of Gulf coastal habitat utilized as stopover sites by migratory songbirds. It was then that the Houston Audubon Society (HAS) approached Phillips Petroleum Company for support to obtain funding for land acquisitions along the Chenier Plain of Texas. 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’s first offices were located in Houston, Texas. In 1999 the Dow Chemical Company donated 34 acres of land in Lake Jackson, Texas, to the GCBO. The land, set by the Buffalo Camp Bayou, was previously a Dow owned employee park. It now serves as our permanent headquarters and houses an Interpretive Center and Research Center for public education and volunteer-based avian monitoring programs.

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. In addition, the organization continues to work with a network of partners, contributing to a range of land protection activities, birding, and research opportunities in the US, Central, and South America.


GCBO’s Commitment to Diversity, Equality, and Inclusiveness Within Our Organizational Culture

GCBO is committed to an organization-wide environment that is free of racism and inequity, where all board members, staff, volunteers, and members feel respected and valued.

GCBO is committed to a nondiscriminatory environment and equal opportunity for employment, volunteering, and advancement in all of our work.

GCBO respects and equally values the diverse life experiences of our board, staff, volunteers, and members.

GCBO is committed to diversity, equality and inclusiveness to maintaining fair and equal treatment for everyone.

GCBO’s diversity, equality, and inclusiveness focus include:

  • Engage a process to assess organizational values, policies, and practices to evaluate diversity, equality, and inclusiveness focus
  • Assess programming for cultural responsiveness, especially as it aligns with the demographics of the Gulf Coast area
  • Develop and enact a diversity, equality and inclusiveness policy
  • Provide diversity, equality, and inclusiveness training for staff
  • Include diversity, equality and inclusiveness practices when recruiting for staff, board, volunteers, and members