Corpus Christi Raptor Migration Project
In 2009, HWI conducted or co-sponsored 10 long-term standardized migration counts in seven states and Veracruz, Mexico. The primary objective of these efforts is to track long-term population trends of diurnal raptors in western North America and around the Gulf of Mexico. The information gathered enables us to better understand the life histories, ecology, status, and conservation needs of raptor populations in North America.Raptors feed atop food pyramids, inhabit most ecosystems, occupy large home ranges, and are sensitive to environmental contamination and other human disturbances. Therefore, they serve as important biological indicators of ecosystem health. Moreover, due to the remoteness and widespread distribution of most raptor populations, migration counts likely represent the most cost-effective and efficient method for monitoring the regional status and trends of multiple raptor species.
In addition to gathering important scientific data, the Corpus Christi project also provides excellent opportunities for the public to learn about the ecology and conservation needs of raptors through on-site environmental education and interpretation. The public is always welcome to take advantage of the environmental education programs and great hawkwatching at the site. Beginning in 2000, HWI's field educators also began expanding the reach of our Texas educational efforts to include off-site programs in schools and at other community venues. In 2001, 124 such programs were conducted, reaching nearly 8,000 additional children and adults, with similar levels of off-site programming continuing most years since then. This educational effort is the key to long-term success in securing public understanding and action on behalf of raptors and the ecosystems upon which we all rely.
To further enhance educational efforts associated with the Corpus Christi project, a "Celebration of Flight" event is held at the project site each year during the peak Broad-winged Hawk passage period in late September. The free event typically features live raptor programs, interpretive displays, mini-programs, and volunteer assistance to see and identify raptors. Stay tuned to this site in late summer for current scheduling and program information.
Support for this project in 2009 was provided by the Paladiuym Foundation, Walbridge Fund, Audubon Outdoor Club of Corpus Christi, Swarovski Optik, The Law Office of John Gilmore, Brush Country Hotshot, and HWI private donors and members. We are also very grateful for the Nueces County Parks and Recreation Department and their staff at Hazel Bazemore Park for providing such a magnificent place to watch hawks. In particular, we are immensely grateful for the Park's involvement in funding and coordinating construction of a new, world-class observation platform at the site, which was first put to use in 2008. We are also perennially indebted to a host of wonderful local individuals and volunteers who routinely assist our official counters and educators or provide other valued support, most notably Bob and Jo Creglow, Jimmy Swartz, Joel and Vicki Simon, Libby Huffman, Art Olsen, Mary Hager, Pat and Tony Makris, Linda Alley, Bill and Patty Beasley, John Economidy, Peter Collins, Mike Clifford, Lynn Guerra, Phyllis Hibdon, Miles Merwin, Grace, Debbie and Clay Taylor, James Witten, Carol Kilgore, and Stacy Zarpentine.