My friend has adored the cowboy culture ever since he was young. So, I was not shocked when he told me he had moved to Texas.
After only a few months living there, he acquired a new habit – birdwatching. This is not a surprise considering that Texas is the second highest bird population state in the whole U.S.
During our recent conversation, we touched on white birds, after which we realized that there are plenty of beautiful white birds in Texas.
Which led me to this moment – writing an article for all of you Texas bird lovers.
So, here’s a list of eleven white birds you should watch out for during your next trip to the Lone Star State.
- Cattle Egrets
- Mute Swans
- Great Egrets
- White Ibises
- Northern Gannets
- Snowy Egrets
- Wood Storks
- Trumpeter Swans
- American White Pelican
- Snowy Owls
- Scissor-tailed Flycatchers
List of 10 White Birds in Texas
Colorations and Identification: Although mainly adorned with white plumage all over their body, cattle egrets are actually quite colorful in a subtle way. They have beige or orange feathers on their crown and chest, paired with gray-colored legs.
However, during breeding, adult cattle egrets develop orange-colored feathers on their back and red-colored legs. Besides their stunning feathers, these white herons have yellowish beaks.
Distribution and Habitat: Although found in Texas, cattle egrets are common in many countries. These white birds are native to Spain, Portugal, and some parts of Africa and Asia. They were eventually introduced in the United States in 1941 and then rapidly spread to Canada and some parts of South America.
Nesting: Cattle egrets thrive in humid and tropical areas, and they form a colony and nest in woodlands near bodies of water, such as rivers, swamps, and lakes. Their nests are a messy pile of sticks placed on a tree or shrubs.
Diet: As for their diet, these water birds are carnivores, eating insects, fishes, snakes, and lizards. There are rare instances where cattle egrets forage for ripe figs.
Read Also: Large Birds in California
Colorations and Identification: Mute swans are amazingly graceful birds recognized by their purely white plumage. They stand out with their slim, long neck and orange beak with a black base.
These water birds are usually seen in the water, so not everyone is familiar with their dark gray-colored legs.
Distribution and Habitat: Mute swans thrive in various aquatic habitats, such as ponds, rivers, and lake inlets, as long as it is heavily vegetated.
These elegant swimmers are found worldwide, though they are native to the temperate areas of Northern Europe.
Nesting: When it comes to nesting, mute swans use cattail stands, dried grasses, and phragmites to construct their nest at the edge of a body of water.
Diet: Mute swans eat aquatic vegetation and can use their neck to reach the riverbed. They also enjoy consuming mollusks, worms, and small fishes.
Colorations and Identification: Great egrets are large herons, boasting full white feathers, long black legs, and yellow bills. They are enormous white Texas birds (the second largest in the heron family, with only great blue herons being larger), standing up to 104 centimeters and having a wingspan up to 170 centimeters.
During the breeding season, white herons’ color changes with their bills turning darker and their legs lighter. To complete the breeding appearance, great egrets grow ornamental plumage on their back, which can be described as spiky looking.
Distribution and Habitat: Similar to mute swans, great egrets can be seen on almost every continent. In Texas, you can spot these white birds all year round. Start looking for them in mud flats, shores, ponds, and marshes.
Nesting: Great egrets move in colonies and build their tree nests together near various bodies of water. They place it in a shrub or as high as two meters in a tree, using sticks and twigs to create a three-foot-wide roost.
Diet: Great egrets find their food in shallow water, mainly feeding on insects, frogs, fish, and even small mammals.
Colorations and Identification: Another white bird in Texas, the white ibis, has stunning white plumage and black tips on its wings. It distinguishes itself with its bare red patch skin and pink-tinted legs. In addition, these large birds also have pink curved beaks.
Related: List of Pink Birds
Immature and juvenile white ibis have more exciting looks, having patchy brown colors all over their football-shaped bodies.
Distribution and Habitat: Besides Texas, these long-legged birds are commonly seen in Virginia, Florida, Mexico, and Central America. White ibises are wetland birds, meaning they thrive in mudflats, flooded pastures, mangroves, and swamps.
Nesting: White ibis constructs their nests up to 12 feet on trees, such as red bay, mangroves, and cypress. For their roost, they fork for sticks, reeds, and cord grass.
Diet: These waders hunt in shallow water or any standing water. The bulk of their diet consists of fish, crustaceans, or insects.
Colorations and Identification: Northern gannets are the largest species of the gannet family, growing up to 100 centimeters. These sea birds also have a wide wingspan, ranging up to 180 centimeters.
Besides their considerable build, northern gannets have silky white feathers adorn their whole bodies. They also have a splash of beige color on their head and black-colored wing tips and tails.
In addition, Northern gannets appear to have a shape of a dart when they plunge dive with their wings retracted.
Distribution and Habitat: Northern gannets are endemic to Canada. However, being migratory birds, these white birds spend their time on Gulf Coast and United States’ eastern coast, including in Sabine Pass, Texas.
As they forage for fish, northern gannets spend most of their time in seawater near the continental shelf.
Nesting: Northern gannets’ nesting takes place in colonies. Their nests are established on offshore islands near cliffs. Interestingly, it was observed that they use plastics as one of the materials for building nests.
Diet: By being carnivore birds, northern gannets’ diets usually consist of fish, such as sardines, anchovies, and haddock.
Colorations and Identification: Snowy egrets charm watchers with slim, elongated bodies and boasting white feathers. Their notable features are their yellow-colored feet and patch of skin under their eyes.
To complement their overall look, these long-legged birds have black legs and beaks. Snowy egrets display their full plumage during the peak of their mating hormonal surge.
Distribution and Habitat: These attractive herons are native to North, Central, and South America. Being migratory birds, snowy egrets spend their breeding season in warmer areas like Texas.
They thrive in wetlands, such as marshes, lakesides, and riverbanks.
Nesting: Male snowy egrets build their nests on thick undergrowth, vines, or trees. After which, they perform elaborate courtship dances to attract a potential mate. Once the male egret attracts a partner, they will finish the construction with twigs and grasses.
Diet: Snowy egrets consume a variety of smaller animals, such as frogs, fish, insects, and worms.
Colorations and Identification: Wood storks carry similar features to herons; however, the former is larger in build. They have white feathers over their body, while their heads, beaks, and legs are best described as dark gray.
Adult wood storks may appear to have wrinkly necks, almost identical to turkeys. As for stork chicks, they have downy gray feathers.
Distribution and Habitat: Interestingly, wood storks are the only storks to breed in North America. They usually thrive in the subtropical and tropical places of Central and South America.
In Texas, wood storks spend their time in dry-up ponds or wetlands.
Nesting: Wood storks are also colonial nesting birds. They build their nest in the trees, usually in shorter mangroves with a height of 2.5 meters. They usually use sticks and twigs to form at least 25 nests.
Diet: For the most part, wood storks enjoy munching on fish and insects. However, they add crabs, insects, and frogs to their diet during the wet season.
Colorations and Identification: Another big white bird in Texas, the trumpeter swan looks elegant with its overall white color, except for the black-colored beaks and legs. They are graceful creatures and are one of the largest swan species growing up to 165 centimeters in height and up to 30-pound weight.
Interestingly, juvenile trumpeter swans are grayish-brown in color, which sometimes makes them misidentified as another species.
Distribution and Habitat: Trumpeter swans are residents of North America, with the largest group of pairs found in Alaska. They find a home in different bodies of water and wetlands.
However, they are pretty rare to be spotted in Texas. Some experts believed that trumpeter swans used to go to Texas during winter.
Nesting: Trumpeter swans build their nest on the edge of bodies of water, just enough to be away from any potential predator. They use dry twigs and grasses to form their nest.
Diet: Trumpeter swans eat aquatic plants or underwater vegetation. You can see them submerging themselves to reach for their meal.
American White Pelicans
Colorations and Identification: American white pelicans are iconic giant birds of North America. The largest white birds in Texas, American white pelicans, are easily recognized, characterized by the combination of purely white body plumage and black flight feathers.
In addition, these water birds have long and massive beaks, giving them a long head shape.
Distribution and Habitat: Unlike their relatives (brown pelicans) American white pelicans are not all-year-round Texas residents. They usually come to the Lone Star State in September and November. While around April and March, they move to the northern parts of the Western USA.
Nesting: American white pelicans usually pick flat nest sites on soil or gravel. They nest in large colonies of up to several hundred members (pairs).
Diet: These aquatic birds are primarily piscivores (fish-eaters). However, on rare occasions, American white pelicans may hunt salamanders and crustaceans.
Colorations and Identification: Snowy owls are known for their strikingly white feathers. Male owls are almost entirely white, while female owls and juvenile male owls are covered with black or dark brown spots.
With their color, these birds of prey can easily camouflage in snowy surroundings. Like every owl species, they have large heads and wide wing spans.
Distribution and Habitat: Snowy owls are migratory birds but are commonly known to spend their time in the tundra of North America. However, on infrequent occasions, these beautiful white birds are found in Texas.
In rare instances, snowy owls show themselves to lucky birdwatchers. It is so rare that spotting the snowbird in Texas is equivalent to waiting for the blue moon.
Nesting: Snowy owls prepare their nest on elevated ground or bolder to lay their 3 to 11 eggs. These white birds prefer high spots to keep themselves from predators.
Diet: Like all owl species, snowy owls are carnivores and usually hunt for voles and lemmings. However, they will eat anything they can overpower.
Colorations and Identification: Scissor-tailed flycatchers look adorable with their white feather and black and brown-colored wings. They also have a sparrow-like appearance with their tiny head.
Besides white, some of these flycatchers develop to have a variety of colors, such as orange and gray. As a result, these flycatchers acquired the nickname Texas bird-of-paradise.
Distribution and Habitat: Scissor-tailed flycatchers spend their breeding time in Texas. They then migrate to Central America during the winter season, and they are comfortable living in the woodlands and the urban areas, making them easy to spot.
Nesting: These tiny birds are not afraid to build their nests anywhere from trees, parks, and even telephone poles. Scissors-tailed flycatchers use any items they found their way in building their nests, including twigs, sticks, and papers.
Diet: Scissor-tailed flycatchers have an insatiable taste for insects, such as grasshoppers, dragonflies, and flies. Now it makes sense where their name came from.
With this, we conclude our list of white birds in Texas.
There are several of these majestic creatures in the state, from swans and egrets to ibises and gannets.
Hopefully, this article will come in handy next time you see some of these birds in person.
Thank you for reading. For the very end, here’s a recommendation for another popular read: Tiny Gray Birds With White Bellies.