Every trip to South Padre Island is going to be good for birds and bird photography. While that south Texas birding hotspot is best during migration, you are still going to get wonderful looks at lots of great birds no matter when you make your visit.
One of those great birds is the Reddish Egret.
Unlike other North American heron species, the Reddish Egret requires a very specific type of habitat. It seems to be a specialist of shallow estuarine habitats on the Gulf Coast and is thus rarely found inland or at other sites.
The Reddish Egret also comes in a white morph but both color phases can be recognized by its dark legs and bicolored bill.
This elegant exotic looking bird shares its rich estuarine habitat with a variety of other wading birds, including species such as White Ibis and several herons.
Shorebirds also occur. One of the more common species is the Ruddy Turnstone, a squat, short-billed shorebird that forages for a variety of prey items in coastal habitats.
When you have had your fill of herons, shorebirds, and ibis on the mud flats, watch the salt marshes on South Padre Island for a different set of birds. One of the those is the Least Bittern, a beautiful little heron that lurks in the marsh vegetation.
Ducks also occur, including Black-bellied Whistling Ducks with dark pink bills and striking plumage.
The much more drab Mottled Duck is also present on South Padre Island. It’s always nice to see this bird because it’s a specialist of salt marshes on the gulf coast.