The Bolivar Birding Sanctuary in Texas is made up of Bolivar Flats, the Horseshoe Marsh and the Bolivar Peninsula. Often referred to as the crown jewel of shorebird habitats in Texas, hundreds of thousands of birds can be observed while bird watching the beaches, salt marshes and mud flats of this Texas birding paradise. Bolivar Flats has been recognized by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network as an important sanctuary where migrating shorebirds can rest and feed. Below is a guide to finding and identifying just a few of the birds you may see while bird watching at Texas’ Bolivar Flats.
Marbled Godwit. You will see this very large sandpiper while bird watching on the tidal flats of Bolivar Flats in Texas. They are easy to identify from their long bills, which are pinkish and curve upward slightly, as well as their hairy blue-gray legs. These birds are common from the fall through the spring at Bolivar Flats. Look for their cinnamon under-wings when in flight.
Dunlin. Named for its dun coloring, you will see this shorebird on the coastal marshes of Bolivar Flats. You can distinguish this sandpiper while bird watching in Texas from its droopy long bill, black belly, and its brilliant coloring in the spring (a rust-orange coloring on its back.) Thousands of these birds have been sighted at Bolivar Flats, where they are very common during the fall, winter and spring. A gregarious bird, you will see them flying in large, swirling formations over the beaches of Bolivar Flats.
Whimbrel. Smaller than a long-billed curlew, they also have shorter bills. Identify them while bird watching on Bolivar Flats from their brownish gray feathers and striking black head stripes. You will see them while bird watching flying in small v-formations or probing with their long bills for crabs along the Texas beaches and mud flats of Bolivar Flats.
Red Knot. This chunky shore bird can be found on the sandy beaches of Bolivar Flats in Texas. Distinguish it from a dowitcher while bird watching from its smaller size, shorter bill, and short neck. It has reddish and brown feathers and pale underparts. This is not a common shore bird but can sometimes be seen in the summer. Look for its cinnamon face and breast.
Black-bellied Plover. These plovers can be found year round in the salt marshes and beaches of Bolivar Flats. Identify them while bird watching from their stocky size, short bill, and prominent dark eyes. They are most common in Texas during the winter.
Sanderling. Bolivar Flats is one of the best bird watching spots in Texas to glimpse this pale sandpiper. They chase after retreating waves searching for worms and other food. Often seen resting together tightly in groups, they are common on Texas sandy beaches. It has a thicker bill than most sandpipers, and a distinctive white wing patch when in flight.
Western Sandpiper. Look for this small shorebird during the spring and winter, when they will be abundant on the Texas Bolivar Flats. Thousands of Western Sandpipers can be seen on the mud flats especially in December and January. Know them by their rusty breeding plumage, which is quite beautiful. They have dark legs and thin dark bills.
Willet. This is a large gray sandpiper that has striking black and white wings, markings that are very easy to identify in flight. Willets have gray legs and dark bills. Look for them while bird watching in Texas in the coastal marshes and beaches of Bolivar Flats, where they forage for insects and worms. These sandpipers are common all year in Texas, and nest here as well.