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Texas Mid-Coast NWR Complex

Site Facts

Country, State, Province/Region:

United States, Texas, Brazoria and Matagorda Counties

Relative Location:

On the Gulf Coast, 50 - 70 miles southwest of Galveston, Texas.

Latitude/Longitude:

29 05' N, 95 15' W

Category:

International

Basis for Designation:

Annually supports more than 100,000 shorebirds

Size:

28,261 hectares (69,835 acres)
The complex is made up of three NWRs: Brazoria, 16,540 hectares (40,854 acres); San Bernard, 9,900 hectares (24,455 acres); and Big Boggy 1,836 hectares (4,536 acres)

Joined:

August 1993

Site Owner/Steward:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Site Partners:

Brazosport Birders
Friends of Brazoria Refuge
Lake Jackson, Clute, and Freeport (towns collectively referred to as Brazosport, TX)
Brazosport Chamber of Commerce

Human Population within 100 km:

Approximately 6 million

Contact:

Jennifer Sanchez
Project Leader
Texas Mid-Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Brazoria, Texas
Jennifer_Sanchez@fws.gov

Description

The refuges include a myriad of habitat types, including tidal mud flats, shell beaches, fresh, brackish and salt marshes, impoundments, rice fields, and moist-soil areas. Several thousand acres of both salty prairie and coastal prairie are also present.

At least 30 shorebird species are found on the refuge complex. Most common winter residents include: American Avocet, Willet, Dunlin, Dowitcher spp., Long-billed Curlew, and Western Sandpiper. Some Piping Plovers are always present on the San Bernard Christmas Bird count. During spring migration, Lesser Yellowlegs, Dowitcher spp., Dunlins and Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers are most numerous. Stilt, Least, and Pectoral Sandpipers, and Black-necked Stilts are also present in substantial numbers. Black-necked Stilts and Willets are most noticeable nesters, however, a few other species also nest in the area.

The refuges are also important to wintering ducks and Snow Geese. In addition, several nesting sites of colonial waterbirds of a variety of species, including Reddish Egret, are found on the refuges.

Ecology & Conservation

The refuges have been managed extensively for wintering waterfowl in the past and the present, but shorebird management is also becoming a priority. Moist-soil units have been established and old rice farming operations are being incorporated into moist-soil units at Brazoria NWR. Efforts will be made to accommodate both wintering waterfowl and provide habitat for wintering and migrating shorebirds.

Current threats
There exists the possibility of an oil spill or a spill of other contaminants from barges in the intercoastal waterway, or from potential pipeline ruptures. Lands adjacent to refuges are potential targets for development.

Protection
Protected as National Wildlife Refuges, which significantly limits activities allowed in the areas.

Planning
Master plans are currently being prepared for the three refuges. This will direct overall management policies for the next few years.

Birds
At least 30 shorebird species are found on the refuge complex. Most common winter residents include: American Avocet, Willet, Dunlin, Dowitcher spp., Long-billed Curlew, and Western Sandpiper. Some Piping Plovers are always present on the San Bernard Christmas Bird count. During spring migration, Lesser Yellowlegs, Dowitcher spp., Dunlins and Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers are most numerous. Stilt, Least, and Pectoral Sandpipers, and Black-necked Stilts are also present in substantial numbers. Black-necked Stilts and Willets are most noticeable nesters, however, a few other species also nest in the area.

The refuges are also important to wintering ducks and Snow Geese. In addition, several nesting sites of colonial waterbirds of a variety of species, including Reddish Egret, are found on the refuges.

Peak species from spring migration surveys conducted by the USFWS in 1993 and 1994. An asterisk indicates the peak count occurred in 1994. Also listed are peak counts from fall migration surveys conducted in 1995 from mid-July through mid-August.

Spring Surveys 1993 - 1994 | Fall Surveys 1995
(mid-March ? mid-May) (mid-July -- mid-August)

American Avocet 2,346 | 867
American Oystercatcher 8 | 5
Baird?s Sandpiper 132 -
Black-bellied Plover 833123
Black-necked Stilt 1,0913,625
Common Snipie 258* -
Dowitcher spp[SCB1] 24,4964,138
Dunlin 8,584* -
Greater Yellowlegs 353163
Hudsonian Godwit 127* -
Killdeer 41253
Least Sandpiper 4,2281,595
Lesser Golden Plover 52 -
Lesser Yellowlegs 12,4684,895
Long-billed Curlew 444* 97
Marbled Godwit 26* 168
Pectoral Sandpiper 3,917 2
'Peep' Sandpiper 8,090 7,605
Piping Plover - 4
Red Knot 2 1
Ruddy Turnstone 123 12
Sanderling 87 -
Semipalmated Plover 1,184* 218
Semipalmated Sandpiper 11,514 4,090
Snowy Plover - 3
Solitary Sandpiper 2 -
Spotted Sandpiper 40* 20
Stilt Sandpiper 4,374* 3,403
Upland Sandpiper 35* -
Western Sandpiper 12,930* 7,236
Whimbrel 635 23
White-rumped Sandpiper 1,285 -
Willet 2,616 1,008
Wilson's Phalarope 1,479 50
Wilson's Plover 15 32

 

Special Information

Migration Celebration (mid-April)
The refuge complex celebrates the spring migration of both passerines and shorebirds with a festival that includes keynote speakers, booths, and tours to all 3 refuges and surrounding areas. This festival raises awareness about the importance of the local area to these migrating birds.

Contact

Jennifer Sanchez
Project Leader
Texas Mid-Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Brazoria, Texas
Jennifer_Sanchez@fws.gov

Jennifer Wilson
Wildlife Biologist
Texas Mid-Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex
2547 CR 316
Brazoria, TX 77422
979-964-4011 x 34
jennifer_wilson@fws.gov

Partners

Brazosport Birders, TX
Friends of Brazoria Refuge, TX
Lake Jackson, Clute, and Freeport, TX (these towns are collectively referred to as Brazosport, TX)
Brazosport Chamber of Commerce, 420 Hwy 332, Clute, TX 77531

Additional Resources

Miller, D.L. 1993. The influence of wintering Lesser Snow Goose herbivory on mid-Texas coastal marsh vegetation dynamics. Ph.D. Dissertation. Texas A&M University, College Station.

Mueller, A.J. 1987. An inventory of upper Texas coast woodlots, valuable migratory bird habitat. Bull. Texas Ornithol. Soc. 20 (1&2): 14-20

Sipocz, A.V. 1993. Aquatic macroinvertebrate food resources for birds in a Texas coastal marsh. M.S. Thesis. Texas A & M University, College Station.