28 Different Types of Water Birds in Texas

Different Types of Water Birds in Texas
Photo by Andreas Weilguny

Are you interested in learning more about the different types of water birds in Texas?

Texas is home to many unique species of water birds found in habitats ranging from rivers and lakes to wetlands and coastal areas.

From ducks and geese to herons and ibises, a variety of water birds can be seen in the Lone Star State. 

In this blog post, we will discuss identifying some of the most popular water birds in Texas and tips on spotting them in the wild.

So, if you’re ready to start your bird-watching adventure, read on!

Whether it’s fishing, kayaking, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature, water is a popular destination for Texans looking to explore the outdoors. 

But did you know that water also provides an ideal habitat for various birds? From majestic white pelicans to playful black-bellied whistling ducks, Texas is home to many water birds found in rivers, lakes, and coastal areas.

In this article, we’ll look at some different types of water birds in Texas, the Lone Star State.

1. Green-Winged Teal

The Green-winged Teal is a common duck species found in Texas. These ducks are known for their brown and gray coloring, with males having distinctive green heads and wings.

The Green-winged Teal typically has a rounded head, long neck, and short bill. These are the first on our list of the various types of water birds in Texas.

They can be found in wetlands, lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow-moving rivers throughout Texas. They are omnivores, eating insects, plants, mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish. 

During the summer months, they will also feed on seeds and grains. In the winter, they may migrate to areas further south.

While they are not considered endangered in Texas, their numbers are declining due to habitat destruction.

2. Blue-Winged Teal

The Blue-winged Teal is a type of water bird found in Texas. This species is one of the smaller ducks and can be identified by its dark brown head and neck, white body, and its bright blue patch on the wings. The blue-winged teal has bright yellow legs and a bill with black spots.

Furthermore, it is commonly found in shallow freshwater ponds, marshes, and lakes in Texas, where it forages insects, crustaceans, and small aquatic animals.

It is usually seen in flocks near the shoreline or wetland areas with shallow water. The breeding season of the blue-winged teal usually starts in April and ends in June. 

During this time, they make nests close to water sources and use plant material, grasses, and feathers to build the nest.

The females usually lay 6 to 12 eggs and are left alone to incubate them until hatching. 

Blue-winged teal migrates in flocks of hundreds during the fall, typically beginning in late August or early September.

They often spend winter in Mexico and Central America before returning to Texas in March or April. They are second on this list of several types of water birds in Texas.

3. Northern Shoveler

The Northern Shoveler, also known as a Spoonbill Duck, is a common species of waterfowl in Texas.

It is a dabbling duck that feeds primarily by filtering food from the water with its bill. The male has a bright green head and white breasts, while the female is light brown. 

During mating season, both sexes are identifiable by their long shovel-like bills, which are black with orange tips.

They are types of water birds in Texas usually seen in small groups or flocks and can be found near shallow ponds and marshes.

The Northern Shoveler breeds in areas of Texas with freshwater ponds and marshes, preferring to nest in small groups. 

They are one of the most common ducks in the state and can often be seen feeding on aquatic vegetation during winter months.

To spot this bird, look for its distinctive shape: the male has a long neck and broad wingspan, while the female has a shorter neck and smaller wingspan.

If you’re lucky enough to spot one, you’ll know it by its bright green head and orange-tipped bill.

4. Northern Pintail

The Northern Pintail is one of the most common water birds seen in Texas. They have a distinctive long, slim neck and a pointed bill that helps them to hunt for food underwater.

These birds can be found throughout the state in wetlands, rivers, and lakes. 

During migration season, they often flock together in large numbers to seek out sources of food. Their diet consists mainly of aquatic insects, small fish, and plants.

The Northern Pintail can be easily identified by its white underparts, black upperparts, and its distinct long tail. 

They can also be heard making various calls, including whistles, trills, and rattles. During the winter, they are often found in flocks with other species, such as Mallards and American Wigeon.

You can easily spot these birds in the wild by carefully observing their behavior.

5. American Wigeon

The American Wigeon is a migratory bird found in Texas during certain times of the year. This beautiful water bird has a dusky gray head, white forehead, and dark brown neck and breast.

The back and wings are a mottled greyish-brown. Males also have a distinctive green speculum on the wing.

This duck species prefers shallow wetlands with a mix of open water and vegetation. They are types of water birds in Texas often found in ponds, lakes, marshes, and slow-moving rivers.

In Texas, they can be spotted in the Rio Grande Valley, Galveston Bay, and other coastal areas during the winter months. In spring, they migrate further inland in search of new wetland habitats to nest in.

6. Mallard

The Mallard is one of the most common types of water birds in Texas. Its green head can identify it, a yellow bill, and a brown body. The male Mallard has glossy blue-black breasts and a belly. 

The female is light brown with dark markings on her chest. Mallards are often seen in the state’s wetlands, ponds, and lakes.

They feed on aquatic plants, seeds, and insects near the water’s edge. The Mallard is also a popular game bird, hunted during the fall season. 

Mallards can also be spotted in urban areas, where they have adapted to living in man-made habitats.

They are often seen near parks, gardens, and golf courses with ponds. These birds are very adaptable and can survive in a variety of habitats. 

The types of water birds in Texas are an important part of the ecological system, providing food for other birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Watching a flock of Mallards take flight is a wonderful sight and provides a great opportunity to observe wildlife in its natural habitat.

7. Wood Duck

The wood duck is one of the most sought-after waterfowl in the United States. The wood duck is native to Texas and can be found in most parts of the state.

They are commonly seen along rivers, ponds, creeks, marshes, lakes, and other wetland habitats in Texas. 

The male wood duck has stunningly colorful plumage with a white eye ring, a green head, red and purple feathers on the neck, and a brownish body.

Female wood ducks are more subtle in their colors. Both sexes have a distinctive crest of feathers on the top of the head.

Wood ducks feed mainly on plants, seeds, and insects that they find near the shoreline or in the water. They will often dabble in shallow water and upend to forage for food.

Wood ducks nest in cavities located high in trees. They prefer dead or dying trees with large cavities and plenty of surrounding vegetation for cover. 

Wood ducks, one of the several types of water birds in Texas, are also fond of artificial nest boxes made of wood and placed close to water.

Texas is home to many wood ducks and a great place to observe this beautiful waterfowl species.

8. Bufflehead

Talking of the adorable types of water birds in Texas, the Bufflehead is a small but colorful species. It is a winter visitor to Texas and can be found along the coast and inland lakes.

These birds have a distinctive white and black head pattern, with a large white patch around the eyes. 

Additionally, they have dark wings and back, with a white chest and belly. They are usually seen in small flocks and can be found near wetlands and shallow pools of water. 

The Bufflehead feeds on small fish, insects, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. They are often found among larger flocks of ducks but will quickly dive underwater if disturbed.

The Bufflehead is a fun bird to observe in Texas with its bright colors and curious behavior.

9. Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser is one of the more distinctive water birds in Texas. The male has a striking black-and-white patterned head with a peaked crest and yellow eyes, while the female is drab brown with a white throat patch.

These birds are one of the types of water birds in Texas and are quite small, typically measuring about 15 inches in length. 

They live in shallow wetlands, ponds, and slow-moving streams throughout the state, feeding mainly on small fish, crustaceans, and aquatic insects.

While they are not particularly common or numerous, they can be seen in many areas of the state during winter when they migrate south to avoid colder temperatures.

10. Common Merganser

The Common Merganser is one of the most frequently spotted types of water birds in Texas.

These birds are also known as “goosanders” or “sawbills” due to their distinctively long, sharply pointed bill. They can be found all across Texas, usually near lakes and streams. 

Common Mergansers usually measure 20-26 inches in length and have dark green heads, white bodies, and chestnut brown wings.

During the breeding season, males have a unique tufted head with an iridescent green and purple sheen. These birds are quite vocal and will call out to each other during flight. 

Common Mergansers feed on fish, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, and aquatic insects, which they catch with their sharp bills.

They are also adept divers, often submerging themselves completely to find food. When not feeding, these birds can be seen in large flocks bobbing on the water’s surface.

Overall, the Common Merganser is a beautiful bird to spot in Texas and serves as a reminder of the amazing wildlife that can be found in our state.

11. Canada Goose

The Canada Goose is one of the most recognizable types of water birds in Texas. These large, aquatic birds inhabit lakes and wetlands throughout the state. They can be identified by their black head, white cheeks, and brown body. 

These geese’s distinctive “honking” call is a common sound in many areas in Texas. These birds are found in flocks year-round but may become solitary during the breeding season.

In addition to being a common sight in the state, Canada Geese can also be seen flying in large V-shaped formations across the sky.

12. Snow Goose

The Snow Goose is a medium-sized species of waterfowl found across North America.

They inhabit wetlands, lakes, and ponds in Texas and are a common winter visitor to many areas. These geese are easily identified by their white plumage, black wingtips, and blue heads. 

The Snow Goose is a graceful flier, often seen in large flocks that look like white clouds in the sky.

In Texas, they can be found throughout the state but are most common in the Panhandle, especially during the winter. 

They feed on grasses, grains, and aquatic vegetation such as eelgrass and wild celery.

Snow Geese are an important part of the natural habitat of Texas and provide essential nutrients for other wetland species.

13. Tundra Swan

The Tundra Swan is a species of swan found throughout Texas and other parts of the United States.

The Tundra Swan is characterized by its white plumage and black bill, as well as its long, curved neck and yellow legs.

They prefer to inhabit shallow freshwater wetlands, including large lakes, rivers, and marshes. They are often seen wading or swimming along the shoreline, preying on aquatic vegetation.

These birds typically migrate south in late fall, returning in late spring or early summer to breed. The Tundra Swan’s call is a loud, low whistle, which can be heard up to a mile away.

14. Mute Swan

The Mute Swan is one of the most iconic and beautiful types of water birds in Texas. It is often seen near lakes, ponds, rivers, and other water sources.

The Mute Swan is easily recognizable with its long neck and bright white feathers. It also has a prominent orange bill with a black knob at the base.

This bird is usually seen alone or in pairs, but occasionally it can be found in larger flocks.

The Mute Swan prefers to feed on aquatic plants, so it’s often seen foraging near the surface of the water or near the shore. 

It also feeds on insects and mollusks only during the summer months. In the winter, the Mute Swan migrates south to coastal areas where they can find food more easily.

In Texas, they are often spotted around the coast near Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Port Aransas.

15. Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is one of Texas’s most iconic and commonly seen water birds. Its large size, slate blue body, and yellow bill make it easy to identify in its habitat of marshes, ponds, lakes, and rivers.

This heron has a wingspan of up to five feet and can be seen stalking around the shoreline with its neck extended. 

During nesting season, you may find them roosting in colonies or alone in tree cavities near bodies of water.

These herons feed on fish, amphibians, small mammals, insects, and sometimes even other birds. 

With their long legs and sharp bill, they can wade through shallow waters and snatch up their prey instantly.

The Great Blue Heron, one of the types of water birds in Texas, is a magnificent sight when visiting the Lone Star State.

16. American Bittern

We are still discussing the different types of water birds, and the American Bittern is not left out.

This species can be found throughout the state, primarily near wetland areas. It is a medium-sized wading bird with a long neck and yellow bill.

The upper body is reddish-brown, while the underside is creamy white and streaked with brown markings.

They are mainly solitary and prefer to feed in shallow wetlands and marshes, but they can also be found along ponds and lakes. 

In terms of behavior, American Bitterns tend to be quite shy and elusive, so they can be difficult to spot.

However, if you keep your eyes open during the early morning and late evening hours, you may have a chance of seeing one.

17. Green Heron

The Green Heron is a common water bird found throughout much of Texas. It is a small, stocky, wading bird typically seen along the edges of ponds, marshes, and other shallow wetlands.

The Green Heron has a long neck and pointed bill that is dark in color and has yellow legs and feet. 

The body of the Green Heron is dark green with a white-streaked chest and head. Juveniles have brown bodies with streaks instead of spots.

The Green Heron is usually seen perching in low trees or on fences near its feeding areas. It feeds on small fish, amphibians, insects, and other invertebrates.

18. American White Pelican

The American White Pelican is a large water bird native to the United States. They are commonly seen in Texas, where they are typically found near rivers and lakes.

This species is easily identified by its white plumage, yellowish bill, and black legs and feet. 

It also has a distinctive pouch to scoop up food like fish and amphibians. American White Pelicans, on this list of types of water birds in Texas, can reach up to six feet in length, with a wingspan of nearly ten feet.

These birds often glide gracefully over the water, catching the thermals for their long-distance flights.

In Texas, the American White Pelican can be found in many of the state’s larger lakes and wetlands.

These birds are more likely to be seen in the winter when they gather in flocks to feed and rest.

During the breeding season, these birds form colonies near lakes, wetlands, and other areas with plenty of food sources. 

These types of water birds in Texas, the American White Pelicans, are opportunistic feeders.

This means they eat a variety of aquatic creatures, including fish, frogs, crayfish, and other small invertebrates. They also occasionally scavenge or steal food from other birds.

19. Brown Pelican

The Brown Pelican is a large seabird native to the Gulf Coast of Texas. The bird is easily recognized by its distinctively long neck, bright orange or yellow head and neck, white underbelly, and dark brown back.

During the summer months, the Brown Pelican can be seen fishing in shallow coastal waters along the Texas coastline. 

When these birds take flight, they soar high above the water in formation with their large wingspans.

They are types of water birds in Texas and are powerful flyers and can travel for miles.

Brown Pelicans are considered an important part of the local ecology, as they help keep the fish population in check by consuming small fish that would otherwise feed on larger fish.

20. Eared Grebe

On this list of the different types of water birds in Texas is the Eared Grebe, an aquatic bird native to and found throughout the state.

It is a small waterbird with a length of 16-20 inches and a wingspan of up to 26 inches. Its head and neck are black, while its body is grey-brown.

Its most distinct feature is its orange-red throat patch, which can be seen in flight. 

The Eared Grebe feeds on small fish, insects, aquatic invertebrates, and vegetation. It can often be found in small groups near freshwater ponds or lakes, searching for food and resting in shallow waters.

In the winter, these birds migrate south to warmer climates, although some may remain in Texas depending on the weather conditions.

21. Pied-Billed Grebe

The Pied-billed Grebe is a common water bird found in Texas. These birds prefer freshwater bodies of water, such as lakes and marshes, where they can dive for food.

They are known for their unique brown and white coloring, with a distinctive black patch around the eyes. 

These birds are often seen swimming in pairs or groups and will even breed in colonies near large bodies of water.

They primarily feed on small fish, amphibians, insects, and crustaceans. Pied-billed Grebes can be spotted in various areas of Texas from spring through late fall.

22. Double-Crested Cormorant

The double-crested cormorant is a widespread species of water bird found throughout Texas.

The cormorant is distinguished by its black feathers, long hooked bill, and bright yellow throat pouch.

It is commonly seen in areas with bodies of water, including oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes. 

Of the types of water birds in Texas, this species is often found foraging for fish and other small prey in groups along the shoreline.

It is also known to breed in colonies of up to several hundred birds and often nests in trees near large bodies of water.

The double-crested cormorant is an important part of the Texas ecosystem and can help control fish populations that may otherwise become too numerous.

23. American Coot

The American Coot is a type of water bird found throughout Texas. These birds are blackish-gray in color and have white bills and legs. They are often found in marshes, ponds, rivers, lakes, and estuaries. 

The American Coot mainly eats aquatic plants, invertebrates, and insect larvae. They can also be seen near agricultural fields scavenging for seeds.

American Coots make large nesting colonies and fiercely defend their nests from predators. 

During the springtime, they are more active and can be seen displaying courtship behaviors. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of this beautiful water bird in its natural habitat.

24. Common Loon

The Common Loon, the Great Northern Diver, is a large water bird found in Texas. These birds are commonly seen near lakes and rivers.

They have a distinct call that can be heard in the evenings or during migratory periods. They usually nest along the edges of bodies of water, often on rocks or logs.

The Common Loon feeds primarily on small fish and aquatic insects. They can dive up to 150 feet deep when hunting, and their wingspan can range from 4 to 5 feet. 

They are types of water birds in Texas that are monogamous and mate for life, and they can live up to 25 years in the wild.

Common Loons are protected by state and federal laws and are considered a species of least concern.

25. White Ibis

The white ibis is a migratory species found in Texas’s wetlands, marshes, and lagoons. This large wading bird has a long, curved bill and white feathers, though its legs are pink. It often hunts for food in shallow waters. 

The white ibis has been observed foraging along the Gulf Coast and central and south Texas.

During breeding, these birds gather in large flocks to nest in freshwater and brackish habitats, usually near the coast. We are almost done with our list of the types of water birds in Texas, but don’t stop reading.

26. White-Faced Ibis

The White-faced Ibis is a type of water bird native to the wetlands and shallow lakes of the state of Texas.

This wading bird species is most recognizable by its long, curved bill, greenish-black body plumage, red eyes, and distinctive white face mask. It feeds on aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish. 

The White-faced Ibis breeds in large colonies and can often be found in marshes, mudflats, flooded fields, and ponds during summer.

In terms of migration, the White-faced Ibis begins nesting in Texas in late April and May before heading south for the winter.

During migration season, these birds can often be seen in large flocks flying south over the Gulf of Mexico or down along the eastern seaboard. 

White-faced Ibis are uncommon but widespread types of water birds in Texas. These birds provide valuable food and shelter for many other wildlife species.

27. Sandhill Crane

The Sandhill Crane is a medium-sized crane native to North America’s wetlands, grasslands, and prairies.

It is one of the most recognizable types of water birds in Texas, as its size and distinctive red crown make it stand out from other water birds. 

The Sandhill Crane feeds on insects, small mammals, and grains and can often be found near shallow wetlands and large ponds.

The bird typically migrates south during winter, but some may remain in the state year-round. With its long legs and tall neck, the Sandhill Crane is a majestic sight!

28. Snowy Egret

The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) is a medium-sized white heron found in shallow waters of freshwater and coastal wetlands in Texas.

This bird is easily recognizable with its bright yellow feet, black bill, and yellow or white lacy plumes on its head, neck, and back.

The Snowy Egret is active daily and feeds mainly on fish, frogs, crustaceans, and insects. It breeds in colonies on islands or areas of dense vegetation near water.

In Texas, this species is widely distributed throughout the coastal marshes, bays, and estuaries. It is an important part of the local food chain in these areas, providing sustenance to larger predators. 

The Snowy Egret is an important indicator species of healthy wetland habitats and can be used to monitor the local ecosystem’s health.

We’ll draw the curtains on our list of the numerous types of water birds in Texas here!


Are you interested in spotting different types of water birds in Texas? With its diverse landscapes, Texas is home to an impressive variety of bird species. 

From the wetlands of the Gulf Coast to the rivers and lakes of Central Texas, there are plenty of opportunities to observe water birds.

Above, we discussed some of the most common types of water birds in Texas that you may encounter and how to identify them. All the best!

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