Galveston Island By Sara Turbyfill.

Galveston Island: A Birder’s Paradise on the Gulf Coast

Birds of Galveston Island

Galveston Island is located on the Texas Gulf Coast, approximately fifty miles from downtown Houston. The island is famous for many reasons, including deep sea fishing, Moody Gardens, historic architecture, and the infinite seawall. However, photographers and wildlife lovers visit this coastal city to see the birds of Galveston Island.

Ospreys, roseate spoonbills, and sandhill cranes are just a few of the more than three hundred species of birds that can be found on the island. Galveston is nearly thirty miles long and encompasses a vast area. Therefore, there are numerous places for birdwatching and wildlife photography.

Where Can I Go Birding in Galveston?

Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve and Galveston Island State Park are a couple of the most popular birdwatching spots in town. However, people often overlook some of the top birding destinations. Believe it or not, random roads are among the greatest places to see the birds of Galveston. American kestrels, belted kingfishers, and sandhill cranes congregate near 11 Mile Road, Settegast Road, Sportsman Road, and Stewart Road.

Galveston Island State Park

One of the best places to see kites and sea hawks is Galveston Island State Park. Common residents found at the park year-round are the osprey and white-tailed kite. These raptors search for small rodents and perch on nearby trees or power lines to devour their freshly caught meal.

Osprey Photographed By Sara Turbyfill In Galveston.
Osprey with fresh catch in Galveston, Texas.

Galveston Island State Park is part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The daily entrance fee is $5 for all adults above the age of thirteen. Also, you can purchase a Texas State Park Pass for $70, which grants you and your guests free access to 89 state parks in Texas for an entire year.

White-Tailed Kite Photographed By Sara Turbyfill At Galveston Island State Park.
White-tailed kite resting on wire near Galveston Beach.

Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve

Another excellent birding destination is Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve. Even though this nature preserve is located near a neighborhood, it’s an exceptional place to see wading birds and waterfowl in a natural environment. Frequent visitors include the bufflehead and green-winged teal.

Male Bufflehead Photographed By Sara Turbyfill At Lafitte's Cove Nature Preserve.
Male bufflehead swimming at Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve in Texas.

Random Roads

Finally, random roads are an excellent place to be a complete bird nerd. Several roads on the west end of the island provide opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife photography in a secluded environment. Four of the best roads for birdwatching are 11 Mile Road, Settegast Road, Sportsman Road, and Stewart Road. If you’re lucky, you might see a pair of sandhill cranes strolling through the grass, a roseate spoonbill fluffing its plumage, or even an American kestrel resting on a power line.

Sandhill Cranes Photographed By Sara Turbyfill Near 11 Mile Road.
A pair of sandhill cranes walking through a field in Galveston, TX.

Although secluded, it is important to note that all roads are lightly trafficked. If you decide to check out these birdwatching spots, be sure to pull your vehicle out of the way of traffic and refrain from walking in the middle of the road. Safety is always the number one priority!

American Kestrel Photographed By Sara Turbyfill Near Settegast Road.
American kestrel resting on telephone line near Edward and Helen Oppenheimer Bird Observatory.

The Edward and Helen Oppenheimer Bird Observatory, which is part of Artist Boat, is located near the corner of Settegast Road and Stewart Road. This designated birdwatching area provides visitors with a safe place to pull-off the road and enjoy nature. There is a short trail that leads to a bird blind, where you can observe American coots and other wading birds swimming in the water below.

Roseate Spoonbill Photographed By Sara Turbyfill In Galveston, Texas.
Roseate spoonbill standing in water, searching for prey in Galveston, Texas.

Visit Galveston Island

Whether you are a bird enthusiast or not, Galveston Island has activities available for all. Visitors from around the world come to the island to admire historic architecture, birdwatch, photograph wildlife, and stroll along the beach. Whatever your interests are, you are liable to find them here.

Finally, if you’re a true bird nerd, don’t miss FeatherFest. FeatherFest is a festival filled with birdwatching and nature photography field trips that takes place on the island every year. For more information about Galveston and top birding destinations, check out the resources below.

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