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Birds of Galveston Island State Park

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Galveston Island, Texas


INTRODUCTION

Once little more than a wavering sliver of grass-carpeted sand, Galveston Island now favors the inland cities massed along the shores of the bay that carries its name. The inhospitable nature of a windswept barrier island has been supplanted by more "accommodating" (to humans, at least) beach homes, condominiums and curio shops. Only at Galveston Island State Park has a vestige of the original island coastal prairie been restored and preserved. This 2,000-acre park, situated six miles southwest of the western tip of Galveston's seawall, offers visitors a rare, intimate view of a barrier island ecosystem. Biological communities that once so typified this northernmost barrier island on the Texas coast still flourish at this vestigial spot as though the footsteps of Cabeza de Vaca and Jean Lafitte were only imagined imprints in the beach sand.

Spanning the width of the island from the Gulf of Mexico across to West Galveston Bay, the park is comprised of a mosaic of coastal habitats which hosts a surprising variety of birds. The secret to finding any specific bird is to search the right habitat at the right time of year. This checklist has been compiled in hopes that visitors to the park will have adequate information to locate the birds that are the objects of their quest. To that end, pay specific attention to the habitat codes that accompany each species on the checklist. These classifications are based upon the general habitat types utilized by the birds in the park, and are not necessarily reflective of vegetational communities. The habitats that are of interest to birders are as follows:

This bird list was prepared by Ted Eubanks, Jr. of Houston. Nomenclature and organization for this checklist are based on the 6th edition of the A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds as currently supplemented.

Because we are interested in maintaining and revising this checklist, the Parks and Wildlife Department asks visitors to help by sharing new and unusual sightings and/or comments on the status of the park's birdlife. Bird Sighting Report Forms are available at the park headquarters, or notes may be submitted on the checklist itself or on notepaper. Please forward these comments to the Resource Management Section, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School road, Austin, Texas 78744, or leave them at the park headquarters.

           
           Please help us protect the natural avian communities in our
           parks by refraining from using playback tapes of bird songs.
           Frequent use of these tapes disrupts normal avian activity 
           patterns, disrupts essential territorial behavior and may
           lead to nest failure. Thank you for your cooperation.

LEGEND

Habitat Codes

  1. Open waters of the Gulf of Mexico
  2. Sandy beach/dune
  3. Coastal grassland
  4. Coastal scrub/woodland
  5. Freshwater pond/swale assemblage
  6. Tidal slough/salt marsh assemblage
  7. Bay margin/tidal mud flat
  8. Open waters of West Galveston Bay
  9. Rookeries/breeding colonies
  10. Manmade structures
  11. Aerial feeder/transient
Seasons

SP - Spring, March-May
SU - Summer, June-July
FA - Fall, August-November
WI - Winter, December-February

Status Codes

C - Common
U - Uncommon
O - Occasional
R - Rare
X - Accidental

Status/Habitat Modifers

* - Species documented as breeding in the park
? - Designated status and/or habitat uncertain
M - Habitat utilized primarily during migration
[I] - Irruptive species, with numbers fluctuating widely each year


CHECKLIST
FAMILY GAVIIDAE                   SP  SU  FA  WI  Habitat

___Common Loon                    U   R   O   U   1,8

FAMILY PODICIPEDIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Least Grebe - - - X 5 ___Pied-billed Grebe C O* C C 5*,6 ___Horned Grebe R - R R 1,6,8 ___Eared Grebe U - U U 1,6,8 ___Western Grebe X - - - 6
FAMILY SULIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Masked Booby R R R - 1 ___Northern Gannet U - O U 1
FAMILY PELECANIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___American White Pelican C R C C 1,6,8 ___Brown Pelican O U U O 1,8
FAMILY PHALACROCORACIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Double-crested Cormorant C - C C 1,6,8 ___Neotropic Cormorant C C C O 6,8
FAMILY ANHINGIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Anhinga R - R - 5,11M
FAMILY FREGATIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Magnificent Frigatebird O U U - 1,8,11
FAMILY ARDEIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___American Bittern U - U U 5,6 ___Least Bittern U U* O - 5*,6* ___Great Blue Heron C C* C C 5,6,7,9* ___Great Egret C C* C C 5,6,7,9* ___Snowy Egret C C* C C 5,6,7,9* ___Little Blue Heron C U C O 5,6,7 ___Tricolored Heron C C* C U 5,6,7,9* ___Reddish Egret C C* C O 6,7,9* ___Cattle Egret C C* C U 3,5,7,9* ___Green-backed Heron C C* C R 5*,6 ___Black-crowned Night-Heron C C* C C 5,6,7,9* ___Yellow-crowned Night-Heron U O U R 5,6,7
FAMILY THRESKIORNITHIDAE SUBFAMILY THRESKIORNITHINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___White Ibis C C C C 5,6,7 ___Glossy Ibis X - - - 5 ___White-faced Ibis U U U U 5,6 SUBFAMILY PLATALEINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Roseate Spoonbill C C* C U 5,6,7,9*
FAMILY CICONIIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Wood Stork - R R - 5,6
FAMILY ANATIDAE SUBFAMILY ANSERINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Fulvous Whistling-Duck O R - - 1M,5 ___Greater White-fronted Goose - - O U 1M,8,11 ___Snow Goose - - O U 1M,8,11 ___Ross' Goose - - R R 1M,8,11 ___Canada Goose - - R O 1M,8,11 SUBFAMILY ANATINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Green-winged Teal U - U U 1M,5,6,8 ___Mottled Duck C C* C C 5*,6* ___Mallard R - R O 5,6,8 ___Northern Pintail U - U U 1M,5,6,8 ___Blue-winged Teal C R* C O 1M,5*,6,8 ___Cinnamon Teal R - R R 5 ___Northern Shoveler C - C C 5,6,8 ___Gadwall C - C C 5,6,8 ___American Wigeon C - C C 5,6,8 ___Canvasback U - U U 5,6,8 ___Redhead O - O O 5,6,8 ___Ring-necked Duck U - U U 5,6,8 ___Greater Scaup - - - R 1,5,6,8 ___Lesser Scaup C R C C 1,5,6,8 ___Oldsquaw - - - R 1 ___Black Scoter - - - R 1 ___Surf Scoter - - - R 1 ___White-winged Scoter - - - R 1 ___Common Goldeneye - - - O 1,8 ___Bufflehead U - - U 5,6,8 ___Hooded Merganser R - - R 5,6 ___Red-breasted Merganser C - C C 1,6,8 ___Ruddy Duck U - U U 5,6
FAMILY ACCIPITRIDAE SUBFAMILY PANDIONINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Osprey U R U O 1,5,6,8,11M SUBFAMILY ACCIPITRINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___American Swallow-tailed Kite R - - - 11M ___Black-shouldered Kite U O* U U 3,4* ___Mississippi Kite O - O - 4,11M ___Northern Harrier C R* C C 3* ___Sharp-shinned Hawk U - U O 4,11M ___Cooper's Hawk U - U O 4,11M ___Broad-winged Hawk O - U - 4,11M ___Red-tailed Hawk U - U U 3,4,11
FAMILY FALCONIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___American Kestrel C - C C 3,4,11M ___Merlin U - U O 2,4,11M ___Peregrine Falcon U - U O 2,11M
FAMILY RALLIDAE SUBFAMILY RALLINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Yellow Rail R - R R? 5,6 ___Black Rail R R*? - - 5,6 ___Clapper Rail C C* C C 6*,7 ___Virginia Rail O - O O 5,6 ___Sora U - U O 5,6 ___Purple Gallinule O R* O - 5* ___Common Moorhen U O* U U 5* ___American Coot C R C C 5
FAMILY GRUIDAE SUBFAMILY GRUINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Sandhill Crane O - O O 3,11
FAMILY CHARADRIIDAE SUBFAMILY CHARADRIINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Black-bellied Plover C O C C 2,6,7 ___Lesser Golden-Plover C - - - 3,11M ___Snowy Plover O - O O 2,7 ___Wilson's Plover C C* C R 2,7* ___Semipalmated Plover U R U U 2,5,6,7 ___Piping Plover U - U U 2,7 ___Killdeer C C* C C 3,5,6,10
FAMILY HAEMATOPODIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___American Oystercatcher R R* R R 7,9*
FAMILY RECURVIROSTRIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Black-necked Stilt C C* C R 5*,6* ___American Avocet O - O O 5,6,7
FAMILY SCOLOPACIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Greater Yellowlegs C - C C 5,6,7,11M ___Lesser Yellowlegs C - C U 5,6,11M ___Solitary Sandpiper U - U - 5 ___Willet C C* C C 2,5,6*,7* ___Spotted Sandpiper U - U O 5,6,7 ___Upland Sandpiper U - O - 3,11M ___Eskimo Curlew X - - - 3 ___Whimbrel U - U R 3,5,6,7 ___Long-billed Curlew C - C C 3,5,6,7 ___Hudsonian Godwit R - - - 5,11M ___Marbled Godwit U - U U 6,7 ___Ruddy Turnstone C O C C 2,6,7 ___Red Knot U - U O 2 ___Sanderling C O C C 2,7 ___Semipalmated Sandpiper U - O - 5 ___Western Sandpiper C R C C 2,5,6,7 ___Least Sandpiper C - C C 5,6,7 ___White-rumped Sandpiper O - - - 5,6,7,11M ___Baird's Sandpiper O - O - 2,3,5,6,7 ___Pectoral Sandpiper U - U - 3,5,11M ___Dunlin C - C C 5,6,7 ___Stilt Sandpiper U - U R 5,6,11M ___Buff-breasted Sandpiper R - R - 3 ___Short-billed Dowitcher C O C C 6,7 ___Long-billed Dowitcher U - U U 5 ___Common Snipe C - C C 5 ___American Woodcock - - R R 4[I] SUBFAMILY PHALAROPODINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Wilson's Phalarope O - O - 5,6,7
FAMILY LARIDAE SUBFAMILY STERCORARIINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Pomarine Jaeger O - O O 1 ___Parasitic Jaeger R - R R 1 SUBFAMILY LARINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Laughing Gull C C* C C 1,2,7,8,9*,11 ___Franklin's Gull R - U - 1,2,8,11M ___Bonaparte's Gull C - C C 1,2,8 ___Ring-billed Gull C O C C 1,2,8,11 ___Herring Gull C O C C 1,2,8,11 SUBFAMILY STERNINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Gull-billed Tern U U* U O 5,6,9*,11 ___Caspian Tern C C* C C 1,2,5,6,8,9*,11 ___Royal Tern C C* C C 1,2,5,6,8,9*,11 ___Sandwich Tern C C* C R 1,2,5,6,8,9*,11 ___Common Tern U O U R 1,2 ___Forster's Tern C C* C C 1,2,5,6,8,9*,11 ___Least Tern C C* C - 1,2,5,6,8,9*,11 ___Sooty Tern X - - - 1 ___Black Tern C U C - 1,2,5,6,8,11 SUBFAMILY RYNCHOPINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Black Skimmer C C* C C 1,2,5,6,8,9*,11
FAMILY COLUMBIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Rock Dove O O* O O 10*,11 ___White-winged Dove U O* C O 4* ___Mourning Dove C C* C C 4* ___Inca Dove U U* U U 4* ___Common Ground-Dove R - R R 4
FAMILY CUCULIDAE SUBFAMILY COCCYZINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Black-billed Cuckoo U - R - 4 ___Yellow-billed Cuckoo C R C - 4 SUBFAMILY CROTOPHAGINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Groove-billed Ani O - U O 4
FAMILY TYTONIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Bar Owl C C* C C 3,4*,10*
FAMILY STRIGIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Great Horned Owl - - R - 3,4 ___Short-eared Owl U - U U 3,4[I]
FAMILY CAPRIMULGIDAE SUBFAMILY CHORDEILINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Common Nighthawk C C* C - 4,10*,11 SUBFAMILY CAPRIMULGINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Chuck-will's-widow C - C - 4,11 ___Whip-poor-will O - O - 4,11
FAMILY APODIDAE SUBFAMILY CHAETURINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Chimney Swift C - C - 11
FAMILY TROCHILIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Buff-bellied Hummingbird - - - X 4 ___Ruby-throated Hummingbird C R C - 4 ___Black-chinned Hummingbird - - R R 4 ___Rufous Hummingbird - - R R 4
FAMILY ALCEDINIDAE SUBFAMILY CERLYINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Belted Kingfisher C R C C 5,6
FAMILY PICIDAE SUBFAMILY PICINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Red-headed Woodpecker R - R - 4[I] ___Yellow-bellied Sapsucker U - U U 4 ___Downy Woodpecker O O O O 4[I] ___Northern Flicker U - U U 4
FAMILY TYRANNIDAE SUBFAMILY FLUVICOLINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Olive-sided Flycatcher O - U - 4 ___Eastern Wood-Pewee C - C - 4 ___Yellow-bellied Flycatcher O - U - 4 ___Acadian Flycatcher U - U - 4 ___Alder Flycatcher O - U - 4 ___Willow Flycatcher R? - O? - 4 ___Least Flycatcher U - C R 4 ___Eastern Phoebe C - C C 4 ___Vermilion Flycatcher R - R R 4 SUBFAMILY TYRANNINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Ash-throated Flycatcher R - R - 4 ___Great Crested Flycatcher C R C - 4 ___Brown-crested Flycatcher - - X - 4 ___Couch's Kingbird R - R - 4 ___Western Kingbird U - U - 4 ___Eastern Kingbird C C* C - 4* ___Scissor-tailed Flycatcher C C* C - 4*
FAMILY ALAUDIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Horned Lark U U* U U 2*,7*
FAMILY HIRUNDINIDAE SUBFAMILY HIRUNDININAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Purple Martin C C* C - 10*,11 ___Tree Swallow C - C O 11 ___No. Rough-winged Swallow C - C - 11 ___Bank Swallow C - C - 11 ___Cliff Swallow O - O - 11 ___Barn Swallow C C* C - 10*,11
FAMILY CORVIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Blue Jay O O O O 4[I]
FAMILY SITTIDAE SUBFAMILY SITTINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Red-breasted Nuthatch R - R R 4[I]
FAMILY CERTHIIDAE SUBFAMILY CERTHIINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Brown Creeper O - O O 4[I]
FAMILY TROGLODYTIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Carolina Wren R R R R 4 ___House Wren C - C C 4 ___Winter Wren - - R - 4 ___Sedge Wren C - C C 3 ___Marsh Wren U U* U U 5*
FAMILY MUSCICAPIDAE SUBFAMILY SYLVIINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Golden-crowned Kinglet U - U U 4[I] ___Ruby-crowned Kinglet C - C C 4 ___Blue-gray Gnatcatcher C - C U 4 SUBFAMILY TURDINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Veery U - R - 4 ___Gray-cheeked Thrush U - R - 4 ___Swainson's Thrush C - C - 4 ___Hermit Thrush U - U U 4 ___Wood Thrush C - C - 4 ___American Robin C - C C 4
FAMILY MIMIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Gray Catbird C - C O 4 ___Northern Mockingbird C C* C C 4* ___Brown Thrasher U - U U 4
FAMILY MOTACILLIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___American Pipit U - U U 3,5 ___Sprague's Pipit R - R R 3
FAMILY BOMBYCILLIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Cedar Waxwing U - U U 4[I]
FAMILY LANIIDAE SUBFAMILY LANIINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Loggerhead Shrike C C* C C 4*
FAMILY STURNIDAE SUBFAMILY STURNINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___European Starling C C* C C 4,10*
FAMILY VIREONIDAE SUBFAMILY VIREONINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___White-eyed Vireo C - C R 4 ___Solitary Vireo U - U U 4 ___Yellow-throated Vireo U - U - 4 ___Warbling Vireo O - U - 4 ___Philadelphia Vireo U - O - 4 ___Red-eyed Vireo C - C - 4
FAMILY EMBERIZIDAE SUBFAMILY PARULINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Blue-winged Warbler C - C - 4 ___Golden-winged Warbler U - O - 4 ___Tennessee Warbler C - C - 4 ___Orange-crowned Warbler C - C C 4 ___Nashville Warbler O - U - 4 ___Northern Parula C - C - 4 ___Yellow Warbler C - C - 4 ___Chestnut-sided Warbler C - C - 4 ___Magnolia Warbler C - C - 4 ___Cape May Warbler R - - - 4 ___Black-throated Blue Warbler R - R - 4 ___Yellow-rumped Warbler C - C C 4 ___Black-throated Gray Warbler C - C - 4 ___Blackburnian Warbler C - C - 4 ___Yellow-throated Warbler U - U - 4 ___Pine Warbler R - R R 4[I] ___Prairie Warbler R - U - 4 ___Palm Warbler U - U U 4 ___Bay-breasted Warbler C - C - 4 ___Blackpoll Warbler U - R - 4 ___Cerulean Warbler U - R - 4 ___Black-and-white Warbler C - C - 4 ___American Redstart C - C - 4 ___Prothonotary Warbler C - C - 4 ___Worm-eating Warbler C - C - 4 ___Swainson's Warbler O - R - 4 ___Ovenbird C - C - 4 ___Northern Waterthrush C - C - 4,5 ___Louisiana Waterthrush U - U - 4,5 ___Kentucky Warbler C - C - 4 ___Mourning Warbler R - U - 4 ___Common Yellowthroat C C* C C 3*,4*,5* ___Hooded Warbler C - C - 4 ___Wilson's Warbler O - U R 4 ___Canada Warbler U - C - 4 ___Yellow-breasted Chat U - U - 4 SUBFAMILY THRAUPINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Summer Tanager C - C R 4 ___Scarlet Tanager C - R - 4 ___Western Tanager R - R R 4[I] SUBFAMILY CARDINALINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Northern Cardinal U U* U U 4* ___Pyrrhuloxia X - - X 4 ___Rose-breasted Grosbeak C - C - 4 ___Black-headed Grosbeak - - R - 4 ___Blue Grosbeak C - C - 4 ___Indigo Bunting C - C R 4 ___Painted Bunting C O* C - 4* ___Dickcissel C O* C - 3*,11M SUBFAMILY EMBERIZINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Green-tailed Towhee X - - X 4 ___Rufous-sided Towhee O - O O 4 ___Chipping Sparrow O - O O 4 ___Clay-colored Sparrow - - R - 3 ___Field Sparrow O - O O 3,4 ___Vesper Sparrow O - O O 3,4 ___Lark Sparrow O - O - 4 ___Savannah Sparrow C - C C 3 ___Grasshopper Sparrow O - O O 3 ___Le Conte's Sparrow O - O O 3 ___Sharp-tailed Sparrow U - U U 6 ___Seaside Sparrow C C* C C 6* ___Song Sparrow U - U U 3,4 ___Lincoln's Sparrow C - C C 3,4 ___Swamp Sparrow C - C C 5,6 ___White-throated Sparrow U - U U 4 ___White-crowned Sparrow O - O O 4[I] ___Dark-eyed Junco R - R R 4[I] SUBFAMILY ICTERINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Bobolink R - - - 3[I] ___Red-winged Blackbird C C* C C 3*,4*,5,6 ___Eastern Meadowlark C C* C C 3* ___Western Meadowlark R? - R? R? 3 ___Yellow-headed Blackbird R - R - 3,5 ___Great-tailed Grackle C C* C C 4*,10* ___Bronzed Cowbird R R*? O - 3,4 ___Brown-headed Cowbird C C* C C 3,4* ___Orchard Oriole C C* C - 4* ___Northern Oriole C - C - 4
FAMILY FRINGILLIDAE SUBFAMILY CARDUELINAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___Purple Finch R - R R 4[I] ___Pine Siskin R - R R 4[I] ___American Goldfinch U - U U 4
FAMILY PASSERIDAE SP SU FA WI Habitat ___House Sparrow O O* O O 10*

In 1983, the Texas Legislature created the Special Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Fund. This fund may be used for nongame wildlife and endangered species research and conservation, habitat acquisition and development and dissemination of information pertaining to nongame management. Money for this fund is obtained through private donations and sale of nongame wildlife art prints and stamps. This fund now gives Texans a unique opportunity to help support this state's valuable and sensitive nongame resources. Your individual contributions and purchases of nongame art prints and stamps will help determine the level of nongame conservation activities in Texas. For more information call toll-free (1800-792-1112) or contact:   Nongame and Endangered Species Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744.
This resource is based on the following source:
Eubanks, Ted, Jr. January 1992. Birds of Galveston Island State Park. Texas 
     Parks and Wildlife Department, Resource Management Section, Austin, Texas.  
     24 pp.
This resource should be cited as:
Eubanks, Ted, Jr. January 1992. Birds of Galveston Island State Park. Texas 
     Parks and Wildlife Department, Resource Management Section, Austin, Texas.  
     24 pp. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govgalvesto.htm 
     (Version 23FEB2001).

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