Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Rio Hondo, Texas

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Few locations anywhere in the United States offer such excellent wildlife-watching opportunities as does this refuge, in its setting where the thorn-scrub and grassland of extreme southern Texas meet the shore of Laguna Madre, the shallow body of water separated from the Gulf of Mexico by South Padre Island. Laguna Atascosa’s diverse habitats, from open brackish water to seasonal wetlands to prairie to dense woodland, attract a wide array of species; its geographic location means it hosts a mixture of eastern and western types; its coastal setting places the refuge in the path of birds migrating to and from the eastern United States along the Gulf shoreline. Consider that more than 400 species of birds have been seen at Laguna Atascosa. Many, of course, are rare vagrants; nonetheless, it’s obvious that a visit here is a must for anyone exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. Note, too, that the refuge’s 20 or so miles of roads and good viewpoints make it a fine spot for disabled or less-mobile birders; quite a lot can be seen from vehicle windows.
Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail

by Mel White (Falcon Guides)

Few locations anywhere in the United States offer such excellent wildlife-watching opportunities as does this refuge, in its setting where the thorn-scrub and grassland of extreme southern Texas meet the shore of Laguna Madre, the shallow body of water separated from the Gulf of Mexico by South Padre Island.

Laguna Atascosa’s diverse habitats, from open brackish water to seasonal wetlands to prairie to dense woodland, attract a wide array of species; its geographic location means it hosts a mixture of eastern and western types; its coastal setting places the refuge in the path of birds migrating to and from the eastern United States along the Gulf shoreline. Consider that more than 400 species of birds have been seen at Laguna Atascosa. Many, of course, are rare vagrants; nonetheless, it’s obvious that a visit here is a must for anyone exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. Note, too, that the refuge’s 20 or so miles of roads and good viewpoints make it a fine spot for disabled or less-mobile birders; quite a lot can be seen from vehicle windows.

©  Mel White/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Birding
Nearby City: Rio Hondo
Trail Type: Several options
Best Times: Year-round; best in spring, winter also good
Driving Directions: Directions to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Recent Trail Reviews

5/18/2006
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Along the banks of the Laguna Madre, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of the largest remaining protected wild areas in the lower Rio Grande delta. Loma and coastal brushlands are accompanied by freshwater lakes and ponds, mudflats and beaches. Here, the elusive ocelot, a small cat whose numbers are estimated to be less than 100 in the United States, quietly prowls the brushlands; Aplomado falcons soar above coastal prairies; Kemp’s ridley sea turtles nest on the Gulf beaches; and the incredible diversity of bird species attracts wildlife watchers from around the world.



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