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The first efforts to survey and census colonial waterbirds in Texas were coordinated by Blacklock and Hildebrand in 1976.  The first state survey was conducted in 1967 using both ground parties and fixed winged aircraft supplied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The emphasis of this initial effort was restricted to the Central Coast.

The TWS expanded its efforts thereafter to include the entire Texas coast from Sabine Pass to the Rio Grande. In 1969, the inland colonies of east Texas were added to the survey.

The early, modest efforts reflected concerns over the status of certain colonial waterbirds that were thought to be declining and also reflected the maximum effort possible, given a
shortage of field personnel.


Although early censuses were counts of all birds observed, beginning in 1970, only nesting
pairs were counted. 

In 1973, a coordinating committee was formed to direct this comprehensive census of colonial
waterbirds. The original coordinating committee was composed of one member each from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the General Land Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Welder Wildlife Foundation, National Audubon Society, Texas A &M University, Texas A&M University, and regional compilers.

The TWS strives to do the following:

  • provide an index to nesting colonial waterbird population trends through standardized regular surveys and censuses;

  • stimulate interest and research;

  • gain a better understanding of general life histories and distribution of colonial waterbirds;

  • facilitate coordination and cooperation for colonial waterbird conservation by acting as a clearing house of information;

  • encourage management of habitats for the benefit of colonial waterbirds.

The organization is administered by a Coordinating Board composed of a maximum of 10 members.  

Current board members include:

  • Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program – David Newstead

  • Audubon Texas – (vacant)

  • Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Center for Coastal Studies - Dale Gawlik

  • Texas GLO – Amy Nunez

  • TPWD – Trey Barron

  • USFWS – Jonathon Moczygemba, Beau Hardegree

  • TAMU-Kingsville – Bart Ballard

  • Texas State University – Clay Green

  • Gulf Coast Bird Observatory – Susan Heath

  • Houston Audubon – (vacant)

The TWS meets once a year and meeting locations rotate around the Upper, Mid and Lower Coast regions. During even numbered years, TWS holds a one day meeting. In odd numbered years a two day symposium is held.

See our contact page for information on regional compilers and how to obtain data.

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