August 15 – November 30
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
Hawk Watch International
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
One of the great spectacles in nature is a sky full of swirling raptors soaring their way to central and South America for winter. Smith Point on the eastern shore of Galveston Bay is a natural concentration point for southwardly moving raptors in fall migration. At the peak of fall migration, it’s not unusual to see thousands of Broad-winged Hawks, the most numerous species that migrates through Smith Point, on a single day. The Smith Point Hawk Watch was originated as an all-volunteer, part-time effort in 1992. In 1997, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in partnership with Hawk Watch International and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department instituted a full-time, 3 month an annual census of the raptors migrating through Smith Point each fall. In 2011 we expanded the count to 3.5 months to capture the early Swallow-tailed Kite migration.
From August 15 through November 30, the Hawk Watch is held daily at the Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area where GCBO has a 30 foot observation tower. The hawk watch is staffed daily from 8:00 am to 4:00 PM CDT. You are invited to come out any day during the season.
GCBO’s Smith Point Hawk Watch is celebrating its 27th year of raptor monitoring in 2023. On October 7 from 10:00am -1:00pm, we will be hosting our Smith Point Hawk Watch Celebration at the hawk watch. There will be food, drinks, a raptor presentation, and hopefully some live raptors on display. And, as always, plenty of raptors soaring through the sky! Our staff and volunteers will be manning the tower, monitoring the birds and pointing them out to guests. Visitors will be able to look through scopes and binoculars and see the migration up close. Come celebrate 27 years of research and conservation with us this fall! For more info visit www.gcbo.org or call us at 979-480-0999.
We are in need of volunteers to help with data collection, greeting visitors, selling t-shirts, and giving out general information. If you could volunteer one day a week, or even one day a month, it would be a great help! To volunteer, please contact Rebecca Bracken at (979) 480-0999.
If you are wondering when a particular bird will be migrating through, read through our Species Statistics to see the migration timing of different birds. This can help you decide when to visit the hawk watch.
John & Lynn Wright
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Coastal Program
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Chambers County Judge and Commissioners Court
Nina Sitra & Mark Swanson
Sydney Lee Kobs
How To Get To The Smith Point Hawk Watch Tower at Candy Abshier WMA:
To reach Smith Point from Houston, take I-10 east to the Texas Hwy 61 exit. Turn south (right) on Hwy 61. In a few miles it changes number to FM 562 and continues south to Smith Point. At the intersection of FM 1985, which branches left at a Y intersection, continue right to Smith Point. Once in Smith Point continue on 562 until you pass Hawkins Camp Road on the right. Turn left at the next intersection and proceed to the parking lot for the tower.