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).
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.