Osprey flying across a lake in Brownsville, Texas

Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge

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Osprey flying across a lake in Brownsville, Texas

Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge

Situated on the border between the United States and Mexico, the refuge is host or home to an incredible diversity of migrating birds that funnel through the tip of Texas in an effort to avoid flying too far east, over the Gulf Coast, or too far west, over the desert. In addition, many southern species of wildlife reach their northernmost range along the Rio Grande.

Located on the southern end of the Central Flyway, the refuge is a major stopover point on the lower Texas coast for waterfowl going to and from Mexico. In November alone, when peak use occurs, more than 250,000 ducks depend on the refuge with thousands more adjacent on the Laguna Madre. It is estimated that 80% of the North American population of redhead ducks winter in this area.

The refuge is also a vital stopover for Neotropical songbirds that are migrating. Painted buntings, Bullock’s oriole and various warbler and hummingbird species all depend on the Laguna Atascosa Refuge during their migration. Often, when many of the songbirds are migrating north, an occasional cold front moves in and causes the birds to “fallout.” In need of shelter from strong winds and cold weather, the birds fallout on the refuge until they can regain their strength and continue their long journey.

In addition to songbirds, the refuge is also well known for its impressive raptors. Padre Island is well-known for hosting large concentrations of migrating peregrine falcons in the spring and fall and is an internationally important staging area for these falcons. The aplomado falcon, once extirpated from the United States, is making a comeback and can be seen hunting the refuge’s grasslands.


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