Text by Paula Dittrick, TMNCPC blogmaster with photos from the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory web site. Photos by Joseph Kennedy
It’s the time of year when birdwatchers head for hawk watch towers in hopes of finding kettles of Broad-winged Hawks filling the sky. The closest one to Rosenberg is the Smith Point Hawk Watch at the Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area.
The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory (GCBO) reports a daily raptor count is taken Aug. 15 through Nov. 30 from a hawk watch tower during the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are welcome any day.
Smith Point, on Galveston Bay’s eastern shore, features a land form that funnels raptors into a fall migration corridor. At peak migration, thousands of Broad-winged Hawks can be seen in a single day.
Broad-winged hawks are the most numerous of various species seen at Smith Point. Swallow-tailed Kites also can be seen there. Swainson’s Hawks often can be found standing in fields nearby.
GCBO notes 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of raptor counting at the Smith Point Hawk Watch. An anniversary celebration is planned at the hawk watch on Oct. 2 from 10:00 a.m. through 1 p.m.
Staff and volunteers will be at the tower monitoring birds as well as talking with guests about what is being seen. Visitors will be able to look through scopes and binoculars and witness the migration. For more information, visit GCBO web site or call GCBO at 979-480-0999. GCBO’s web site includes a daily count report.
HawkWatch International and GCBO teamed up along with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department during fall 1997 to begin full-season monitoring of fall raptor migration at Smith Point. For several years before 1997, local volunteers for the Hawk Migration Association of North America conducted limited Smith Point counts, reports the Hawk Watch web site.