BRAZORIA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
The thunder of 40,000 snow geese taking flight, the salty breeze off the Texas Gulf, or the sight of a 12-foot alligator loafing on a muddy bank make a trip to Texas Mid-Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex a sensory banquet in any season.
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.
Near greater Houston, the refuge complex offers haven for both wildlife and people. For wildlife, the expanse of salt and freshwater marshes, sloughs, ponds, coastal prairies, and bottomland forest represent feasting and lodging for all or part of the year. For people, these vestiges of wild Texas offer exceptional wildlife watching.
Freshwater sloughs wind through salt marshes. Rare, native bluestem prairie graces the uplands. The greater the number of habitats, the richer the ecology. Brazoria NWR is no exception. It has a key location on the Texas Gulf which helps Freeport draw one of the highest Audubon Christmas bird counts in the nation - more than 200 species.
Look for alligators year-round on Big Slough and in refuge ponds. In dry seasons, their trails thorough the mud and excavated gator holes are easy to spot. Roseate spoonbills capture the pink glow of sunrise in their wings in flight. Those same rosy feathers 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.