Galveston is one of the top locations for birding in the United States.The Island is a central location for novice and expert birders offering a wide variety of species. Water and shore birds are common on the Island throughout the year while rare species are spotted during Fall and Spring Migration. Water and shore birds from other coasts also travel to the Island during migration.
Birds of Galveston Isle
The Reddish Egret is Galveston Island's official city bird. A true Texas "specialty," in all of North America this species only nests in Texas (1,000 pairs), Louisiana, and in Florida. With declining numbers, the Reddish Egret may soon be on the endangered species list.
With more than 500 species of birds residing, wintering, or migrating through southeast Texas, the Galveston Bay Estuary is the largest and most productive on the Texas coast. While there are too many outstanding wildlife sites to describe, sites are in close proximity to the Galveston Island Visitors Center. Residents can join visitors from all 50 states and foreign countries enjoying the diverse wildlife in the Galveston Bay watershed.
Don't forget to ride the Bolivar Ferry from Galveston to Port Bolivar - one of the best ways to view Bottlenose dolphin, brown pelicans, and magnificent frigate birds. The 15-minute, free ride is a great place for viewing wildlife, feeding birds off the stern of the ship, or just enjoying the scenery as the ferry crosses into the Bolivar Peninsula, the pass between the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay.
For more information on Galveston Island, please contact the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, toll-free at 1-888-GAL-ISLE, or explore our state-of-the-art website, Galveston.com. Also, you may wish to download the Official Galveston Island Visitor Guide by clicking here. Enjoy your visit!
Big Reef Nature Park
This area is a must-see for all birders, and when conditions are just right, one can enjoy the vast number, variety, and beauty of the resting birds without leaving their car.
When you reach the large wetland area just south of the Seawall, there are cormorants, egrets, herons, ibis, ducks, etc. This beach area is a favorite resting area for black skimmers, gulls, terns, etc. Check the tidal ponds for a variety of other species.
Explore the East Lagoon Nature Trail to witness the natural tidal marsh environment. Here, visitors enjoy bird watching, natures study, walking, and fishing. The tidal creek and pond are prime locations for birding.
To reach this area, go east on Seawall Boulevard, turn right when it ends onto Boddeker Drive, and park opposite the bridge which crosses to Big Reef Nature Park. After birding this area, go south on Boddeker Drive to R.A. Apffel Park (East Beach). There is a charge to enter the park during summer months.
Corpos of Engineers Woods
Located off Ferry Road, right on Highway 168.
Shrimp Fleet Berth
Watch the birds waiting for the return of the shrimp boats, known locally as the "Mosquito Fleet" at Pier 19, and enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants on Harborside Drive between 22nd and 19th Streets.
Harborside & 33rd Street
A small colony of Eurasian collared doves can be seen in this area. Scouting around is often necessary to view the doves.
Located at Avenue O and 28th Street. When weather conditions are right in spring, this wooded park is home to migrant land birds seen sweeping through the oak trees. American robins have nested here, and White-winged doves are common in the surrounding neighborhoods.
61st Street crosses the east end of Offatts Bayou. Grebes, diving ducks, and - in the spring - Pacific loons are often seen in the bayou area.
John M. O'Quinn Corridor
This corridor surrounds Interstate 45 from the Texas City Interchange on the north; south to the Santa Fe Overpass; bounded on the east by the Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad.
This area includes shallow inter-tidal marsh, tidal creek, oyster reef, mud flats, brackish fresh water pond, and pasture.
Located at the intersection of 8-Mile Road and
Stewart Road. Bird along 8-Mile Road north
to the bay. Turn west on Sportsman’s Road
(near the bay end of 8-Mile Road) and bird
watch the wetlands to the south. From the
original intersection, birds are visible on both
sides of Stewart Road.
To reach this area, proceed west on Seawall Boulevard (also FM 3005), and turn right (north) onto 8 Mile Road and go to the intersection with Stewart Road. To reach Lafitte's Cove, go west from 8 Mile Road on Stewart Road, past 11 Mile Road, and turn right into the Lafitte's Cove Subdivision and follow the signs to the parking area.
Lafitte's Cove Nature Preserve
Lafitte's Cove is a 20-acre oak moat preserve and is an excellent place to find migrating songbirds in spring and fall. At least 137 species were recorded in the preserve during the spring migration of 1997. Go west on Stewart Road, past 11 Mile Road,
and turn right into the Lafitte’s Cove subdivision
and follow signs to parking area.
Galveston Island State Park Galveston Island State Park stretches from the Gulf to West Bay and is about 2000 acres in composition. North of FM 3005 there are several improved trails with observation platforms. To reach this area, follow the signs to the entrance of the park which is approximately 6 miles west at the end of the Seawall.
Dos Vacas & San Luis Pass
This area consists of large tidal flats that cover many acres of open sand bars, grass-covered wetlands, and several miles of beaches. The grass-covered wetlands are summer nesting areas for many skimmers.
To reach Dos Vacas, head west on FM 3005 just before Sea Isle. On the right is a protected area managed by
the Houston Audubon.
To reach this area, turn left off FM 3005 on the road right before you cross the east side of the San Luis Pass bridge. In case it is impossible to access the beach due to high water, enter the beach just south of the water tower and ride on the beach two miles to the Pass.
Most beaches are closed to vehicles, but San Luis Pass is the exception, so this makes birding even all the more enjoyable. Check the many miles of open pasture land for feeding shorebirds and waders on west FM 3005.