Hear the Commotion of Thousands of Birds on Texas’s Bolivar Peninsula

Most winters, the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary is home to 5,000 or more birds like sandpipers and American Avocets.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide. 


This is BirdNote!

The shallow waters and wide mud flats before us are alive with thousands of gulls, terns, and shorebirds. We’re at the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, on the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula opposite Galveston, Texas.

American Avocets are among the most abundant birds on the flats today, with 5,000 or more here most winters. Their black and white plumage stands out among the browns of the sandpipers and plovers. The avocets have very sensitive bills that curve upward. As they wade, they sweep their heads back and forth and snap up the tiny crustaceans that touch their bills. This tactile feeding method is unique among the birds here.

Avocet numbers build up in spring as migrants pass through, with immense roosting flocks of 10,000 or more. These waters must be very rich indeed to support so many actively feeding birds.

The Bolivar Peninsula is famous for its big flocks of water birds and for concentrations of migrating songbirds. Both National Audubon and American Bird Conservancy have designated it an Important Bird Area. Why not plan a visit?

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.

Support comes from Sasquatch Books, offering BirdNote, the Book. Full of chirps and quirks, and it's wrappable for holiday gifts. More at SasquatchBooks.com.



Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.

Laughing Gulls [50264] recorded by G.A. Keller; Forster’s Terns [uned. 3803] recorded by G.F. Budney; Avocets [2963] recorded by A.A. Allen; Ring-billed Gull [3334] recorded by R.S. Little.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Gulf of Mexico waves recorded by J. Kessler.

Written by Dennis Paulson

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson