Texas Mid-Coast National Wildlife Refuges
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Coastal Habitats page.)
Three national wildlife refuges – Brazoria, San Bernard and Big Boggy – form a vital complex of coastal wetlands harboring more than 300 bird species. They serve as an end point of the Central Flyway for waterfowl in winter, and an entry point for neotropical migratory songbirds tired from a 600-mile Gulf crossing from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. These refuges are located just south of Houston, the refuge complex offers haven for both wildlife and people.
For wildlife, the salt and freshwater marshes, sloughs, ponds, coastal prairies, and bottomland forest provides food and shelter for all or part of the year. For people, these refuges offer exceptional wildlife watching.
Brazoria NWR: A Rich Meeting Place
Brazoria NWR has a rich ecology ranging from salt marshes to bluestem prairie grasses. It also attracts over 200 species of birds. In winter, more than 100,000 geese, ducks and sandhill cranes arrive. In summer, birds that nest on the refuge include ten species of herons and egrets, white ibis, roseate spoonbill, mottled duck, black skimmer, and scissor-tailed flycatcher.
Once-endangered species live here, including alligators and roseate spoonbills. The rosy feathers of the Roseate spoonbill proved a near death sentence when demand for feather hats decimated spoonbills, great egrets and other fine-feathered fowl until plume hunting ended before World War I.
San Bernard NWR: Coastal Marsh Wilderness
Less than half of the refuge is open to the public, leaving a vast landscape of marshes and ponds as wildlife sanctuary. Visitors may see clouds of snow geese in winter or a warbler “fallout” in spring.
Refuge bottomland forests and willow trees along the tour road attract high numbers of warblers migrating north. If warm, moist air heading north from the Gulf collides with cold dry air heading south, conditions shape up for a warbler “fallout.” The resulting heavy rains and wind cause these tiny songbirds to drop from the sky to the shelter of trees. Hundreds of birds and dozens of species fall into single locations, too tired to fly even one more stroke.
Big Boggy National Wildlife Refuge is for the birds. Only open to the public for waterfowl hunting season and for special activities, the refuge serves as a salt marsh sanctuary. Dressing Point Island is one of the most prominent bird rookeries on the Texas Coast. Roseate spoonbills, white Ibis, snowy egrets vie for nesting space along with the endangered brown pelican.
Like Brazoria and San Bernard NWR's, this refuge conserves key coastal wetlands for neotropical migratory birds in spring and fall, as well as for wintering waterfowl and year-round wildlife. Big Boggy NWR was established in 1983 and encumber 5,000 acres of salt marsh.
(Video presentation starts on Texas Coastal Habitats page.)