August 15 – November 30

Project Partners:

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.

Form 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 25th year of raptor monitoring in 2021. On October 2 from 10:00am -1:00pm, we will be hosting our special 25th year anniversary 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 25 years of research and conservation with us this fall!   For more info visit www.gcbo.org or call us at 979-480-0999.

  • Broad-winged Hawk Kettle (9/19/09) © Joe Kennedy

    Broad-winged Hawk Kettle (9/19/09)
    © Joe Kennedy

  • Tower visitor's (9/24/11) © Joe Kennedy

    Tower visitor’s (9/24/11)
    © Joe Kennedy

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 Susan Heath at (979) 480-0999.

2020 Counter

Bob Baez

2020 Volunteers

Marcy Brown
Winnie Burkett
Tad Finnell
Tom Gracinin
Veda Hackell
David Hanson
Sara Harrison
Linda Hoffman
Joe Kennedy
Marvin Masters
John Whittle
John & Lynn Wright

2020 Sponsors

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Coastal Program
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Chambers County Judge and Commissioners Court
Ann Abshier

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.

For information on birding and other nature activities in Chambers County, check out the Chamberswild website.