Beautiful, even without the Whooping Cranes

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Although we knew mid-August in south Texas wouldn’t be the most ideal time for birding (!), we took a 2-day trip from our kids’ home in Houston to Aransas, a remote and wonderful 59,000 acre National Wildlife Refuge along the Gulf of Mexico.

Aransas’ bays, fresh and salt water marshes, savannas, sloughs, and woodlands boast 165+ species of wildflowers, scores of butterfly and dragonfly species, and a diverse range of reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, and mammals. Aransas is a major stop for migratory birds along the Central Flyway of North America.

Established in 1937, Aransas NWR is probably best known as “the winter home for the only wild flock of whooping cranes in the United States.”  The current total WORLD population Whooping Cranes is only about 600!

On the brink of extinction in the mid-20th century, Whooping Cranes are coming back slowly due to decades of concerted recovery efforts (National Wildlife Federation).

close-up-of-white-whooping-crane-bird-grus-americana

Whooping Crane – public domain image

One of the rarest birds in North America, they are also “the tallest bird in North America, standing nearly five feet tall, with a seven foot wingspan.” To learn more, click here. The best time to see the Cranes at Aransas is late fall – winter.

We didn’t see the Whooping Cranes on this short, HOT summer trip, but the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is clearly a very special place to which we will surely return.

 

30 thoughts on “Beautiful, even without the Whooping Cranes

  1. Great post on Aransas, BJ. I have never been there but have heard nothing but rave reviews. I hope to visit one day, but until then, I very much appreciated this informative overview.

  2. Thanks BJ looks like a place we would love to visit birding. Very interesting about the Whooping Cranes, so good that they are being conserved and coming back in number:-)

    • Yes, it’s quite a remarkable success – according to Texas Parks & Wildlife, “As many as 1,400 whooping cranes migrated across North America in the mid- 1800s. By the late 1930s, the Aransas population was down to just 18 birds.”!!

  3. Great place. Great post. I can’t wait to see the winter migration.
    The Whooping Crane population is a shocker.
    Thanks, BJ.

  4. Such a beautiful place. We have whooping cranes near us at the Necedah Wild life preserve. I think they were the ones that started leading the cranes to Florida with an ultra light plane.

  5. Pingback: Whooping Crane | Jet Eliot

  6. Trying to catch up on your blogs, I was excited to see Aransas in your post title! We have reservations at a campground on Mustang Island at Port Aransas for early 2017, and I’ve already been scooping out Aransas NWR. If I should get so lucky to see the Whooping Crane, let alone photograph one, I will be a happy camper! 🙂

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