by Steve Alexander
Congratulations to the city of Galveston for becoming a Bird City Texas community. Thanks to the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council and others, Galveston joins only a handful of other Texas communities receiving the honor.
What made this designation possible? Jennifer Reynolds, a Galveston County Daily News photographer, answered that question for me. She identified one of the most important reasons Galveston received the recognition: our abundance of local wetlands.
When Reynolds went out to photograph birds for the February article, “It’s official: Galveston is for the birds,” she wondered, “Where do I go in the dead of winter to find birds?” Turns out, she didn’t have to go far. Every one of the birds photographed was in a local wetland – the roseate spoonbill, tricolored herons and great egrets.
Those birds are just three of the 73 birds included in Scott Leslie’s Wetland Birds of North America. In addition to those three, other birds in the book found locally include mallard, great blue heron, snowy egret, yellow-crowned night heron, white ibis, osprey, clapper rail, American oystercatcher, willet, black skimmer, pied-billed grebe, brown pelican, double-crested cormorant, belted kingfisher and red-winged blackbird. For each of the dozens of birds listed, Leslie describes the types of wetlands used as habitat and identifies the resources therein utilized as food.
Since wetlands are important to so many birds locally and elsewhere, it’s important we make it a priority to protect them.
The only other Bird City Texas community I’m familiar with is Port Aransas. Like Galveston, it has plenty of wetlands, and I would bet wetlands abound in other Bird City Texas communities.
Lots of wetlands cover Galveston Island, so watch for another blog post soon about what they are and where you can find them.
Steve Alexander teaches wetlands management at Texas A&M University at Galveston and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council. He is the author of Exploring Galveston: A Naturalist's Guide to the Island.