Texas Pelagics

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Seabirds of Texas

by | Jun 12, 2022

Texas Pelagic Seabirds:

This table summarizes the status of 38 Pelagic Seabirds species seen in Texas up to June 2022.  The species names with an asterisk (*) are Review Species according to the TBRC (Texas Bird Records Committee).  Out of these 38 Pelagic Seabirds seen in Texas all but 11 species have been recorded on a Texas Pelagic trip. It is probably just a matter of time and coverage until these additional 11 species are eventually found on a Texas Pelagic Trip, although a few of them are accidental and exceedingly rare in Texas.

The species names are links to a page for each species that includes: a description of its Texas and Gulf of Mexico status; seasonal occurrence graphs; a google map of the geographic distribution of all the sightings; a range map; and photos of this species in Texas.

(click name to go to species page)
01Red-necked Phalarope 3%1Rare in migration / winter
02* Red Phalarope 1%1Very rare in migration, primarily fall
03* South Polar Skua 2%1Accidental: Two Texas records.
04Pomarine Jaeger 28%
150Rare to uncommon in summer, uncommon to fairly common in fall/ winter offshore
05Parasitic Jaeger 12%
8Very rare in summer, Uncommon in fall/ winter offshore
06* Long-tailed Jaeger 12%
7Very rare to rare from fall through spring offshore
07* Razorbill0%
0Accidental; One Texas sight record presumed.
08Black-legged Kittiwake 0%0Very rare winter visitor and casual migrant
09Sabine's Gull 5%1Rare in fall / winter
10* Brown Noddy5%1Very rare in summer and fall
11* Black Noddy
0%0Accidental: 3 Texas Records
12Sooty Tern 43%231Common in early summer to uncommon in early fall
13Bridled Tern 68%100Fairly common to common from spring through fall
14* Roseate Tern0%0Accidental. Two Texas documented records, both adults.
15* Arctic Tern3%2Casual to Very rare late spring and fall migrant; Nine Texas records
16* White-tailed Tropicbird0%0Accidental; one Texas record 7/1/2010 found on beach, rehabilitated & released
17* Red-billed Tropicbird 12%1Very rare in summer and fall. 13 Texas records
18* Yellow-nosed Albatross1%1Accidental: four Texas records, one live bird.
19* Wilson's Storm-Petrel0%0Accidental; one Texas record 6/11/2015, other unconfirmed reports.
20* Leach's Storm-Petrel 32%83Uncommon in late spring - summer, becoming rare by early fall
21Band-rumped Storm-Petrel 57%88Common to fairly common in spring through early fall
22* Trindade Petrel0%0Accidental: one Texas record at Port Aransas Jetty; 22 Feb 2022
23* Black-capped Petrel 3%2Accidental: two Texas records, three pending records.
24* Stejneger's Petrel0%0Accidental: one Texas record, decomposing carcass on beach
25* White-chinned Petrel0%0Accidental: one Texas record, found floundering in surf
26Cory's Shearwater 65%102Rare to fairly common in spring & summer, common in early fall
27Scopoli's (Cory's) Shearwater??Rare to fairly common in spring & summer, common in early fall
28* Wedge-tailed Shearwater0%0Accidental: one Texas record; Lavaca Bay; 15 Jun 2022
29* Sooty Shearwater 3%1Very rare visitor, 16 records, May- Dec
30* Great Shearwater 9%1Rare to very rare visitor, 20 records, Jun - Dec.
31* Manx Shearwater 3%1Very rare visitor: 8 Texas records Aug - Nov
32Audubon's Shearwater 56%206Fairly common to common in summer and fall
33Magnificent Frigatebird 57%14Rare to uncommon in spring + fall, fairly common in summer.
34Masked Booby68%9Rare to uncommon in spring + fall, fairly common in summer.
Blue-footed Booby
0%0Accidental: two TX Records
36Brown Booby9%3Uncommon in all seasons. Increasing in numbers.
37* Red-footed Booby 0%0Accidental - very rare; 3 documented Texas records, 2 pending records.
38Northern Gannet4%3Uncommon to common migrant and winter resident; very rare in summer



Texas Nearshore Seabirds:

These  seabirds can be found far offshore in pelagic water depths, but are more easily found in the nearshore waters. They are not of particular interest on pelagic birding trips.

(click name to go to species page)
1Bonaparte's Gull Uncommon to Common migrant & winter res. Nearshore; Rare offshore
2Laughing Gull Abundant year round nearshore; Locally common offshore
3Franklin's Gull Common to Uncommon migrant nearshore; Rare to UC offshore.
4Ring-billed GullCommon migrant + Com to abundant winter res nearshore; Rare offshore
5Herring Gull Common migrant + winter res; Rare to Uncommon offshore.
6Least TernCommon March-Nov. nearshore; Rare to uncommon offshore
7Black TernUncommon to common migrant offshore.
8Common Tern Common fall & uncommon spring migrant offshore.
9Forster's Tern Abundant year round nearshore; Rare to uncommon offshore
10Royal Tern Abundant year round nearshore; Locally common offshore.
11Sandwich Tern Common sum res/ Uncommon winter res nearshore; Fairly common offshore

Hypothetical Future Seabirds for the Gulf of Mexico or Texas:
This table lists all the seabirds never seen in Texas but that have been found In the Gulf of Mexico or in the Atlantic offshore from the Southeast United States from Florida north to North Carolina. It just might be worthwhile to be aware that these pelagic seabirds could potentially show up someday in the Gulf of Mexico, or if they are already documented in the Gulf of Mexico they could potentially show up in Texas. If you had studied this list last year you might remember that there were two species on this list that have now been elevated to the official Texas Bird List. A Trindade Petrel was seen and photographed from the Port Aransas jetty on 2/22/2022. Likewise a Wedge-tailed Shearwater was seen and photographed in Lavaca Bay on 6-15-2022. You may also remember that the South Polar Skua found on the October 2004 Texas Pelagic was the first documented record for the Gulf of Mexico.

(click name to go to species page)
1Black-browed AlbatrossNC: Accidental 2 records off N. Carolina
2Fea's PetrelNC Rare visitor off NC in late May & early June
3Zino's PetrelNC One record for N Am, I6 Sept 1995 off Cape Hatteras; Possibly casual in Fall on East Coast
4Bulwer's PetrelNC Accidental off Outer Barks NC July + Aug
5 Cape Verde ShearwaterNC: Accidental one record I5 Aug 2004 off Hatteras; MD 1 record? 21 Oct 2006
6Short-tailed Shearwater FL: Accidental: One Florida Gulf Record
7Barolo Shearwater
8Boyd's Shearwater
9Balearic Shearwater
10White-faced Storm-Petrel




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