Galveston Island Birds

Houston birders are lucky to have Galveston Island close at hand. This barrier island is a great place to look for shorebirds and a great variety of spring and fall migrants. Habitats of Galveston include tidal mudflats, estuaries, salt marshes, oak mottes, grasslands, and beaches. October through April are delightful times for birding Galveston. Summers can be challenging given the heat, humidity, and biting insects (especially in the salt marshes of places like Galveston Island State Park). Below find a small collection of bird images from across the island.

Summer Tanager at Lafitte's Cove, Galveston Island, Texas
Young Male(?) Summer Tanager at Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston Island, Texas. The female of eastern subspecies of Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra rubra) has variably patchy red and yellow feathers on the head and body, hence the question mark. Lafitte’s Cove Nature Sanctuary is an oak motte habitat (like Sabine Woods), and one of the the best spots on the Texas Gulf Coast to see Neotropical migrant songbirds–every bit the equal of High Island . . . . High-speed synchronized fill-flash.
Philadelphia Vireo at Lafitte's Cove, Galveston Island, Texas.
Philadelphia Vireo at Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston Island, Texas. High-speed synchronized flash.
Bathing Blue-winged Warbler at Lafitte's Cove, Galveston Island, Texas.
Bathing Blue-winged Warbler at Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston Island, Texas. High-speed synchronized flash.
Brown Thrasher at Lafitte's Cove, Galveston Island, Texas.
Brown Thrasher at Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston Island, Texas. High-speed synchronized flash.
Great-crested-Flycatcher at Lafitte's Cove, Galveston Island, Texas.
Great-crested Flycatcher at Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston Island, Texas. Flycatcher’s can be be extremely difficult to identify. I think this a Great-crested Flycatcher, but I welcome comments from anyone who knows better. High-speed synchronized fill-flash.
White-eyed Vireo at Lafitte's Cove, Galveston Island, Texas
White-eyed Vireo at Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston Island, Texas. High-speed synchronized flash.

Of course, Galveston is a mecca for waterbirds and shorebirds, both resident and migrant . . . .

Common Loon in winter plumage, Offatt's Bayou, Galveston Island, Texas
Common Loon at Offatt’s Bayou, Galveston Island, Texas. As we stood on a pier, this Common Loon popped up right in front of us–just as if we had conjured it. Note the interesting catchlights in this bird’s eye: the sun and the reflection of the sun on the surface of the water.
Brown Pelican in Postbreeding colors at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas
Brown Pelican in Postbreeding Colors at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas. Canon EOS 7D/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). High-speed synchronized fill-flash.
American Oystercatcher at San Luis Pass, Galveston Island, Texas
American Oystercatcher at San Luis Pass.
Juvenile Brown Pelican in flight over Galveston Bay
Juvenile Brown Pelican in Flight Over Galveston Bay. Photo taken with Canon EOS 7D/500mm f/4 IS USM (+1.4 TC) on tripod w/stabilizer Mode 2.
Sanderling in winter plumage on dead fish at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas
Sanderling in Winter Plumage on Dead Fish at East Beach. Sanderlings are amusing to watch as they attempt to sneak a bite or two of carrion, and then scurry away. Photo taken under natural early morning light.
Female Red-winged Blackbird at East Beach, Galveston.
Female Red-winged Blackbird at East Beach.
Black-bellied Plover in winter colors at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas
Black-bellied Plover in Winter Colors at East Beach. Photo taken in natural early morning light.
Great-Blue-Heron-hunting-at-East-Beach-Galveston-Texas
Great Blue Heron Hunting at East Beach. Great Blues can put on spectacular hunting displays of head bobbing and weaving. For some reason I’m always surprised to see Great Blues hunting in marine environments. It’s a personal problem.
Snowy-Egret with Mullet at Galveston Island, Texas
Snowy Egret with Mullet: Photo taken in the shallows of East Beach.
Western-Meadowlark-at-Galveston Island State Park, Texas
Western(?) Meadowlark at Galveston Island State Park. Hand-held with 500mm f/4L IS USM (+1.4x TC).
Sandwich Tern at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas
Sandwich Tern at East Beach.
Ruddy Turnstone at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas
On the beach: a Ruddy Turnstone at East Beach.
Marbled Godwit on Galveston Island, Texas
Marbled Godwit: probing the tidal mudflats of East Beach for invertebrates. Marbled Godwits are winter visitors to the Texas Gulf Coast, and summer in the Upper Midwest and Canada.
Rock Wren on Gaveston Island, Texas
Vagrant: This Rock Wren appeared at East Beach after a bout of stormy weather. Being a western species, this bird is not normally seen in this area. Perhaps it was blown off course?

 © 2012-2013 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No images or text may be duplicated or distributed without permission.

5 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing these pictures of all these birds and how beautiful they are and the information about them

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