The Texas City Dike is a 5.3-mile-long fishing pier that stretches out into Galveston Bay. Due to its length, it’s commonly referred to as the world’s longest man-made fishing pier. As its name suggests, the fishing pier is located in Texas City. The dike resides in Galveston County about 15 minutes east of I-45 North FWY.
People visit the Texas City Dike for a handful of reasons. Due to its close proximity to the Gulf Coast, the dike is a popular fishing and boating destination for locals. Several boat ramps are located along the pier, providing boaters with easy access to the water. In addition, visitors can enjoy several other activities, including biking, hiking, and even kiteboarding.
Birdwatching at the Texas City Dike
What most people don’t realize, however, is that the Texas City Dike is also a premier birdwatching and wildlife photography destination. Birders from around the world visit this popular fishing destination to observe a wide range of Texas birds. Birds are attracted to the area to feed on crustaceans, fish, and mollusks found along the shoreline. Visitors commonly report sightings of American oystercatchers, black skimmers, and brown pelicans. Several sightings of Monk Parakeets have also been reported in the area.
American Oystercatcher: A Shorebird That Loves Seafood
One of the most astonishing birds found at this popular fishing spot is the American oystercatcher. These shorebirds have piercing yellow eyes that are surrounded by orange rings. They also have beaks that fade from dark orange to bright yellow, giving off an ombré vibe.
American oystercatchers feed primarily on crustaceans, marine worms, and mollusks. For obvious reasons, these wading birds are attracted to the area to feed on the abundance of clams and oysters found there. Birdwatchers commonly spot these shorebirds foraging along the beach.
Black Skimmer: The Bird with an Extreme Underbite
The black skimmer is another interesting bird species found near the shoreline. Like the American oystercatcher, these strange seabirds have an ombré like beak that fades from orange to black. They also have bright orange legs, making them easy to spot on the beach.
Black skimmers have an uneven bill, which allows them to skim the water’s surface and grab fish. These tern-like birds are commonly seen along the Texas City Dike near the water’s edge.
American White Pelican vs. Brown Pelican
In addition to black skimmers, hundreds of pelicans can be spotted along the famous fishing pier. Both American white pelicans and brown pelicans are common in the area. Pelicans are often spotted bobbing in the water near the boat docks or flying along the pier. Although both species are of the pelican family, they are widely distinguishable.
The American white pelican has black and white feathers. Black feathers are only visible when the bird has its wings spread open, typically during flight. American white pelicans have a 9-foot wing span, making them one of the largest birds found in North America. In comparison, they are about twice the size of the brown pelican.
On the other hand, brown pelicans are made up of a variety of feathers ranging from white and yellow to brown and black. Immature brown pelicans display grayish-brown feathers on their head and neck. Their wingspan maxes out at 7 feet, which is about 2 feet shorter than the American white pelican.
Other Common Sightings Along the Texas City Dike
Sometimes, visitors may even stumble upon animals other than birds while visiting this popular fishing destination. For instance, people often report sightings of bottlenose dolphins swimming near the boat docks. On one rare occasion, a man even reported a sighting of a manatee nearby. Although not as common, manatees sometimes make their way to Texas in search of warmer waters during the summer months.
Stray cats are another common sighting reported at the Texas City Dike. Several stray cats with varying colored fur have inhabited the land. The cats are often seen hiding out among the large rocks located along the pier.
Visit the Texas City Dike
To conclude, the Texas City Dike offers some of the best birdwatching and wildlife photography along the Gulf Coast. Common residents include the American oystercatcher, black skimmer, and brown pelican. Although less common, people have also reported sightings of bottlenose dolphins, manatees, and a few stray cats.
Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or not, the dike offers a wide range of attractions. Visitors from around Houston visit the pier to enjoy biking, boating, fishing, and even water sports like kiteboarding. It’s important to note that you must purchase a parking sticker to visit the pier on the weekends in the summer. Admission is free every other time of the year. If you plan on visiting the dike on a weekend in the summer, parking stickers can range from $5-20. To learn more about this amazing birding destination, check out Texas City Dike.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only. Sara Turbyfill Photography & Design is not endorsed by or associated with the Texas City Dike in any way. All photos featured in this blog post were taken by Sara Turbyfill. To ensure the safety of the animals, these images were taken at a safe distance using a telephoto lens.