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State of Texas Parks

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USA Parks
Gulf Coast Region
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
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Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Armadillo © Dennis Eccleston
A very common sight along verges and the edge of woodland is this short sighted scavenger. On a good day you may see 6 to 12 of these critters.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Dry Lake Bed © Dennis Eccleston
These young gators gather around the only open water in Hog Lake after a prolonged shortage of rain.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Whooping Cranes © Dennis Eccleston
These winter visitors are normally only seen at a distance from the observation tower but these two made a fly over
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P.O. Box 100
Austewell, Texas   77950
The bugle of an endangered whooping crane echoes across the far reaches of the marsh. Only at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge do North America's tallest birds find an enduring winter stronghold. Here, too, pelicans, herons, egrets, roseate spoonbills, ducks, and geese dine in brackish waters and salt marshes teeming with fishes, blue crabs, and clams. On shore, javelinas, bobcats and deer wander oak woodlands. Alligators peer from still waters of ponds and sloughs. Ringed by tidal marshes and broken by long, narrow sloughs, this 59,000-acres refuge sprawls mostly across the Blackjack penisula, where grasslands, live oaks, and redbay thickets cover deep sandy soils. Storms and waters of the Gulf of Mexico constantly reshape this vital refuge, home to over 390 different bird species. <P>
Nature of the Area
Strong winds push the bay waters over low-lying shores, forming brackish tidal marshes among the short, salt-tolerant vegetation. It is this habitat that attracts thousands of migratory birds. On their journey between North and Central America, warblers concentrate on the refuge from mid-April to early May. Mild winters, bay waters, and abundant food supplies attract over 392 species of birds to Aransas, including pelicans, herons, egrets, spoonbills, shorebirds, ducks, and geese.

The endangered whooping crane makes these same saltwater marshes their winter feeding grounds. Productive tidal flats provide clams and crabs for the whoopers to eat.

One of the rarest creatures in North America, the whooping crane is making a comeback from a low of 15 birds in 1941. Whooping cranes nest in Canada during the summer and winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The cranes can usually be seen from the Observation Tower from late October to mid-April. (For information about commercial boat tours to see the cranes and other birds, call the Rockport Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-242-0071.)

Moving inland, the water changes from salty flats to freshwater ponds. These ponds teem with life. Created by rain and ranging in size from puddles to lakes, they are a haven for alligators, turtles, frogs, snakes, and birds.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is located near Rockport

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From Rockport, take Highway 35 north approximately 20 miles. Turn right on FM 774, go approximately 9 miles to FM 2040. Turn right and follow FM 2040 for about 7 miles to refuge entrance.

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State of Texas Parks