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Top 5 Wildlife Refuges in Texas

...and what you might see in each of them!


In my previous post I mentioned a few wildlife refuges so I thought I'd take a moment and list out the top 5 wildlife refuges in Texas, IMO. The Lone Star state is home to numerous refuges that provide habitats for a wide variety of birds and other animals. Here are a few of the major wildlife refuges in Texas, along with some of the birds and other fauna that can be found in each:


Big Bend National Park: While Big Bend is not technically a wildlife refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it is a popular destination for wildlife and birding enthusiasts. Located in southwest Texas, the park has an elevation of less than 1,800 feet along the Rio Grande River bordering Mexico to nearly 8,000 feet in the Chisos Mountains. Big Bend includes massive canyons, vast desert expanses, forested mountains and an ever-changing river. Here, one can explore the last remaining wild corners of the United States. It is one of the most biologically diverse arid regions in the world and supports a variety of wildlife including more than 450 species of birds.


5. San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge: Located on the Gulf Coast of Texas, this refuge supports a diversity of coastal wildlife, including more than 320 species of birds (including sandhill cranes, great blue herons, wood storks and even bald eagles), 95 species of reptiles like the American alligator and amphibians and 450 species of butterflies and dragonflies.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Male Attwater Prairie Chicken, Photo Credit John Magera/USFWS
Male Attwater Prairie Chicken, Photo Credit John Magera/USFWS

Located west of Houston, this refuge

is dedicated to the preservation of the critically endangered Attwater's prairie chicken. The sounds of male Attwater's prairie chickens could be heard throughout the gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana in the early 1900s, when they numbered to about 1 million birds. However, as the 1900s continued, the species dwindled to the edge of extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation, the import of red fire ants and uncontrolled hunting practices. The ultimate recovery goal for this imperiled bird is to restore and maintain a genetically viable, stable, self-sustaining population of at least 6,000 breeding adults annually over a 10 year period. Through the combined efforts of government agencies, universities, private landowners, environmental groups and corporate organizations, there is hope for the species.


Killdeer Plover
Killdeer Plover

3. McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge: Another refuge located along the Texas Gulf Coast, this one is home to a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds, including sandpipers, plovers and roseate spoonbills. McFadden National Wildlife Refuge is a 58,861-acre refuge that includes the largest remaining freshwater marsh on the Texas Coast, as well as thousands of acres of intermediate brackish marsh. If you're lucky, you may also see American alligators, river otters and other fish and marine animals.

2. Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge: Located on the Texas-Oklahoma border, this refuge is home to thousands of migratory songbirds and waterfowl, including dickcissels, snow geese and sandhill cranes.

Male Dickcissel
Male Dickcissel

The 11,320-acre refuge is an overlay of the Big Mineral Arm of Lake Texoma. Shallow marshes, creeks, bottomland hardwoods, forested uplands and grasslands and managed farm fields provide habitat for more than 300 bird species and many varieties of wildlife. You may also see white-tailed deer, coyotes and bobcats while visiting.


1. Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge: Located in the Hill Country of Texas, this refuge is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo. Try looking for the small critters too like butterflies, dragonflies and lizards. You may also catch a glimpse of a wild turkey, white-tailed deer, soaring hawks, and gray foxes.

Golden Cheeked Warbler, Photo By/Credit Melissa Cheatwood
Golden Cheeked Warbler, Photo By/Credit Melissa Cheatwood

Agree with these? Let me know in the comments below what your number 1 is!



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