Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Santa Maria, Texas

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Considered one of the gems of the national wildlife refuge system, the 2,000-acre Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is the heart of the Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Corridor, a multi-agency project to protect tracts of native landscape between Falcon Dam and the mouth of the Rio Grande. For birders it is one of the must-visit sites in the lower valley. Bird walks are available throughout the winter and early spring; see the posted schedule at the visitor center for details. Key birds: Least Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga, Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Mottled Duck, Hook-billed Kite, Harris’s and Gray Hawks, White-tailed Hawk, Plain Chachalaca, White-tipped Dove, Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Clay-colored Robin, Long-billed Thrasher, Tropical Parula, Olive Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Bronzed Cowbird, Altamira Oriole, and Audubon’s Oriole are present year-round. Least Bittern, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Purple Gallinule, Groove-billed Ani, Elf Owl, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Couch’s Kingbird, Painted Bunting, and Dickcissel occur in summer. Crested Caracara, Brown Thrasher, Green-tailed Towhee, Lark Bunting, and Yellow-headed Blackbird can usually be found in winter.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Professional Review and Guide

"Considered one of the gems of the national wildlife refuge system, the 2,000-acre Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is the heart of the Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Corridor, a multi-agency project to protect tracts of native landscape between Falcon Dam and the mouth of the Rio Grande. For birders it is one of the must-visit sites in the lower valley. Bird walks are available throughout the winter and early spring; see the posted schedule at the visitor center for details.

Key birds: Least Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga, Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Mottled Duck, Hook-billed Kite, Harris’s and Gray Hawks, White-tailed Hawk, Plain Chachalaca, White-tipped Dove, Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Clay-colored Robin, Long-billed Thrasher, Tropical Parula, Olive Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Bronzed Cowbird, Altamira Oriole, and Audubon’s Oriole are present year-round. Least Bittern, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Purple Gallinule, Groove-billed Ani, Elf Owl, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Couch’s Kingbird, Painted Bunting, and Dickcissel occur in summer. Crested Caracara, Brown Thrasher, Green-tailed Towhee, Lark Bunting, and Yellow-headed Blackbird can usually be found in winter."

Activity Type: Birding
Nearby City: Santa Maria
Trail Type: Several options
Best Times: Best November to March for winter residents; April and May for spring migrants and nesting activities
Local Contacts: Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
Local Maps: Texas Atlas & Gazetteer, DeLorme
Driving Directions: Directions to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Recent Trail Reviews

5/18/2006
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With over 400 species of birds documented on little more than 2,000 acres of prime habitat, Santa Ana NWR is considered the “jewel” of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Many of the colorful birds found here, such as green jays, kiskadees and chachalacas, are tropical species, reaching their northern range limits in extreme south Texas. Spring and fall are the best times to watch birds, as thousands of songbirds, raptors and shorebirds funnel through the refuge on their migration routes. Additional wildlife watching opportunities include butterflies and dragonflies, for which Santa Ana hosts among the highest diversity within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge’s wetlands and woodlands, along with the wildlife that depends on them, draw thousands of visitors annually.



Trail Photos

Activity Feed

May 2018