Below is our ever growing list of bird species that live in or migrate through the area.
Most of the photography was taken on the island but we have included shots taken in surrounding counties, many of which were taken during Featherfest.
The American Avocet is a large wader that forages on beaches, mud flats, and the shores of prairie ponds
The American Coot swims like a duck, but does not have webbed feet and are often see walking on the shore.
The smallest North American falcon, the American Kestrel is rusty brown with black spots above and pale below.
A large chunky shorebird, the American Oystercatcher has a black head and breast, brown back and wings, and an orange-red bill.
American White Pelican
The American White Pelican is a large aquatic soaring bird with a 9 foot wingspan – one of the largest in North America.
The Baltimore Oriole, a small icterid blackbird, is a migratory breeding bird, seen in Galveston during the spring.
The blue coloring of the wings, back, face, and crown of the Barn Swallow contrasts with the reddish-brown underparts and the cinnamon-colored forehead and throat.
The Belted Kingfisher has a large head with a shaggy crest and a long, heavy black bill with a grey base.
The Black Skimmer flies low along the water snapping up fish with is long lower mandible, while its long wings make short down strokes to avoid the water.
Acting more like a creeper or nuthatch than other warblers, the Black-and-white Warbler climbs or creeps on tree trunks and limbs foraging on insects
The Black-bellied Plover breeds in the Arctic and winters on the coast, including Galveston.
The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is a mid-sized waterfowl species with a long red bill, long head and longish legs, pale gray head and mostly gray-brown plumage.
Black-crowned Night-Herons do not fit the typical body form of the heron family, with shorter bills, legs, and necks.
An abundant shorebird of our wetlands, mud flats, and beaches, Black-necked Stilts have long pink legs and a long thin black bill.
Black-throated Green Warbler
One of Galveston’s spring migrants, it is a medium-sized warbler with an olive-green body with white below, a yellow face and black on the front.
The Blackpoll Warbler winters in Canada and the Arctic. Most migrate through Florida to and from South America, but some through Galveston.
In the same family as the Northern Cardinal, the Blue Grosbeak is a stocky seed-eating songbird.
The Blue Jay’s name is derived from the Greek term meaning “blue chatterer”.
A relatively small dabbling duck, the Blue-winged Teal migrates south in early fall, some wintering on Galveston Island.
The Bronzed Cowbird is a brood parasite, allowing other species to raise its young.
It’s hard not to spot groups of Brown Pelicans flapping and gliding along Galveston’s beaches.
Often hidden in shrubs and brush, Brown Thrashers can be hard to spot. You may hear its melodious song first.
Cape May Warbler
The Cape May Warbler spends summers in northern spruce woods and migrates south for winter.
Unlike other herons and egrets, the Cattle Egret spends more time in dry fields than streams and ponds.
The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, mostly brown, gray, and yellow bird named for its wax-like wing tips.
A chicken-sized bird that rarely flies and hides in dense cover, but occasionally can be seen on the edge of marshes or tidal creeks.
A medium-sized marsh birds with long legs and toes, Common Gallinule is charcoal gray with a white stripe down their side and white outer tail feathers.
The Common Loon is a large member of the loon, or diver, family. They can be found wintering on Galveston Island.
A medium-sized nocturnal bird, its presence and identity are often revealed by its nasal cries and is difficult to spot during the day.
A medium-sized hawk with broad wings and a very long tail.
A brightly colored flycatcher, the Couch’s Kingbird is found from the Texas coast to the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and Guatemala.
The Crested Caracara is a large black and white falcon with long yellow-orange legs and yellow-orange skin around the bill.
A long-bodied dark colored diving bird, the Double-crested Cormorant floats in the water with neck and head above the surface.
The Eastern Kingbird is a common medium-sized songbird that is blackish above and white below.
Eastern Screech Owl
A small robin-sized owl, the Eastern Screech Owl roosts during the day in holes or nooks then forages at dusk and night.
A small tyrant flycatcher that can be seen on Galveston Island during migration from South America north to South East Canada.
Forster’s Tern look similar to Common Tern but are more of a marsh bird and winter along the southern US coasts.
A common dabbling duck about the size of Mallards, the Gadwall forages while swimming, eating from the surface or tipping forward.
The Gray Catbird often hides in shrubs making a variety of sounds, including a catlike mewing.
Great Blue Heron
The stately Great Blue Heron, impressive in size alone at 4½ feet tall, adapts to a wide variety of habitats from freshwater or saltwater wetlands to dry fields.
Abundant year-round on the island, The Great Egret is a large heron with all-white plumage, a yellowish-orange bill, black legs, and an S-curved neck.
The male Great-tailed Grackle has an over sized tail and iridescent black and purple feathers. The female is brown and about half the size of the male.
Relative to other herons, Green Herons are short and stocky. It’s neck is often drawn in.
A scruffy-looking all-black cuckoo, the Groove-billed Ani has a tall flattened bill with narrow grooves.
The Hermit Thrush is more compact and stockier than other North American Catharus thrushes, with relatively longer wings.
A large gull with a large bill, Herring Gulls have light-gray backs, black wingtips, and white head with white under.
Mergansers specialize in eating fish by diving and swimming underwater. The Hooded Merganser is the smallest of the three native to North America.
The Hooded Warbler is a mid-sized warbler with a plain olive/green-brown back, and yellow underparts.
An abundant songbird, the House Sparrow has lived around humans for centuries.
Indigo Buntings are spring migrants to the island, traveling in small flocks and foraging for seeds on the ground.
A medium-sized warbler with long legs, the Kentucky Warbler is yellow below with olive-green above with “sideburns” and crown.
The Killdeer is a large plover found in the Americas. It’s common name comes from its often-heard call.
A medium-sized gull with fairly long wings and long legs, the Laughing Gull is gray above, white below, and has a black hood.
The Least Sandpiper is the smallest member of the sandpiper family. It walks slowly foraging for tiny crustaceans, insects and snails in mud and sand.
It’s the smallest of the North American terns with a thin yellow bill and small narrow pointed wings.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
The Lesser Black-backed Gull is a European gull that winters on Galveston Island, probably migrating from Iceland or Greenland.
A medium-sized diving duck, the Lesser Scaup has a tall peaked head – the male’s being glossy black and female’s brown.
A grayish brown bird with yellow legs, the Lesser Yellowleg breeds in Northern Canada and Alaska and can be found in Galveston during the winter.
A medium-sized sparrow, the Lincoln’s Sparrow has distinctive dark streaks and white belly.
A thick-bodied songbird with a big head, long tail, and a thick, hooked bill, the Loggerhead Shrike perches scanning for prey.
This large shorebird has an incredibly long, curved bill that it uses to probe deep into the ground for invertebrates.
Frigatebirds are amazing aerialists, staying on the wing for weeks at a time, rarely needing to flap and steering with their tails.
A dabbling duck, Mallards are large with hefty bodies, rounded heads and wide flat bills.
This big sandpiper spends the summer in the northern Great Plains and arrives on Galveston Island late summer.
The Mississippi Kite is a small slender raptor that spends much of its time gracefully gliding in circles looking for insects to swoop on.
Similar in size and a close cousin to the Mallard, the Mottled Duck feeds at the surface or tips over for submerged vegetation.
A nearly all-black lanky diving waterbird, the Neotropic Cormorant forages by diving from the surface and swimming underwater.
The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a distinctive crest on the head and a mask on the face which is black in the male and gray in the female.
The Northern Parula is one of the smaller North American migratory warblers. They winter in northern Central America and migrate through Galveston in the spring.
A dabbling duck, the Northern Spoveler sweeps its big spatulate bill side to side to strain food while swimming.
Smaller than the Baltimore Oriole, the Orchard Oriole is a slim songbird with a sharply pointed tail.
Formerly known as Fish Hawks, Ospreys feed almost exclusively on live fish, which they catch by diving towards the water feet first.
In the cardinal family of birds, the shy and secretive Painted Bunting is often described as the most beautiful bird in North America.
A small, chunky waterbird, the Pied-billed Grebe can be found in ponds on Galveston’s west-end.
A large, heavy-bodied warbler, the Prothonotary Warbler is yellow with olive-black and gray wings with white under the tail.
This distinct looking medium-sized marsh bird, the Purple Gallinule has a purplish head and body with greenish wings and back.
The largest North American swallow, the Purple Martin gracefully flies while foraging for flying insects.
A medium-sized raptor with a robust body and broad wings. Some are year round residents of the island.
The Red-tailed Hawk, colloquially known in the United States as a “chickenhawk”, has bulky and broad-wings.
A familiar bird on the island, the Red-winged Blackbird is commonly heard singing its nasal song in marshes, wet fields, and mudflats.
The official bird of Galveston, the Reddish Egret is a long-legged, long-necked wader. It’s considered one of the most active herons.
One of Galveston’s spring migrants, the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is black and white with a bright red chevron on the breast.
Common on the island year-round, The Roseate Spoonbill is a gregarious wading bird that’s pink color is derived from its diet.
A large tern with pointed wings, forked tail, black crown, and orange bill, the Royal Tern can be seen along Galveston’s beaches.
A small hummingbird with a slender, slightly down-curved bill, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is bright emerald green on the back and crown.
The Ruddy Turnstone is a short chunky sandpiper that nests on arctic tundra and winters on Galveston Island.
A small plump sandpiper with a stout black bill, the Sanderling runs up and down the beach, as each wave washes in and out.
Galveston celebrates the return of the very large gray Sandhill Cranes each fall with events like Holiday With The Cranes.
The males of this species are stunning in bright sunlight, with bright red and black plumage, and can often be seen perching in the open.
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has a very long, deeply forked black and white tail.
After nesting in Canada and Alaska, the Semipalmated Plover arrives on Galveston Island in late summer.
A medium-sized, stocky, long-billed shorebird, the Short-billed Dowitcher’s habitat includes tidal marshes and mudflats.
One of the Short-eared Owls, they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears, with large eyes, a big head, a short neck, and broad wings.
A beautiful small heron, the Snowy Egret has long thin black legs, yellow feet, and a black bill with a yellow patch at the base.
This small plover can be found on Galveston beaches. It has a horizontal posture and a short neck.
A small secretive rail, the Sora is mottled gray and brown with a gray face and black mask, short tail, and stubby yellow bill.
A medium-sized shorebird, the Spotted Sandpiper bobs its tail when walking, often in a crouched position.
A medium-sized songbird, the Summer Tanager has a big head and thick bill. Adult males are red. Females and juvenile males are yellow-green.
A medium-sized sparrow with a rounded tail, the Swamp Sparrow has longer legs than the Lincoln’s Sparrow.
A small slender heron, the Tricolored Heron has a long bill and neck with long blue plumes on the head and neck .
A spring migrant from tropical rainforests, the Veery is a medium-sized thrush with cinnamon-brown above and pale under with spotting on the chest.
While most flycatchers are rather drab, the Vermilion Flycatcher is striking. Look for them on Galveston Island in the winter months.
White Ibis is an odd looking bird with a football-shaped body and long curved bill.
A large grayish sparrow, the White-crowned Sparrow has a peaked head with black and white stripes, a long tail, and orange, yellow or pinkish bill.
A large maroon wading bird, White-faced Ibis have a white border around the eye with a bare patch of skin in front.
The White-tailed Kite is a sleek-looking raptor that can often be seen on the West End, especially during breeding season.
The White-winged Dove is mostly brown with a small head, dark line on the cheek, and blue eye rings.
The Willet is a plain gray or brown shorebird. When flying, it reveals a white and black stripe along each wing.
One of the smallest warblers, the Wilson’s Warbler is bright yellow below and yellowish olive above with black eyes that are a stark contrast to its yellow cheeks.
A spring migrant from the tropics, the Worm-eating Warbler is a small warbler with black stripes through its buffy head.
You may be able to hear the sweet sound of the Yellow Warbler during spring migration.
A rather stocky wading bird, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron can be seen gliding over water and forage by walking slowly on land or in shallow water.
The male Yellow-headed Blackbird has a striking golden head and a white patch on black wings.
Look for the Yellow-rumped Warbler’s rump patch as it flies away. It often flutters from its perch in short loops to catch flying insects.
The Yellow-throated Vireo is more colorful than other vireos but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to spot.
An early spring migrant, the Yellow-throated Warbler has a long body and bill. It is gray and white with yellow on the throat and black streaks on the sides.