Thursday, March 8, 2018

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday morning finds us at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.  In 2011 Mark and I volunteered at Santa Ana for 3 months.  We led bird walks 3 mornings a week, watered and weeded the butterfly garden, and planted many trees and shrubs.

 Entry Sign

There is a large visitor center with a well-stocked friends store.  After passing the visitor center and a bird feeding station it’s a short walk to the levee and into the largest part of the refuge.

If you've heard of the border wall, 
this is where it is proposed to be built.

Santa Ana NWR was established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds.  It happens to be positioned along an east-west and north-south juncture of two major migratory routes for many species of birds.  It is also at the northern-most point for many species whose range extends south into Central and South America.  It is 2,088 acres.

The refuge boasts more than 14 miles of trails. 

There is lots of beautiful Spanish Moss in the trees:

Spanish Moss

When we were there in 2011 there had been a lot of flooding in the area and all the lakes were full to overflowing.  We were saddened to see the refuge now.  Most of the lakes have no water at all.

From the amount of grass, this birding "hot spot" 
has not had water for quite some time.

There were very few water birds.

Northern Shovelers

We saw several Golden-fronted Woodpeckers in numerous dead trees:

We did see a few birds:

American Kestrel

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

In North America, the Olive Sparrow is found only in South Texas. This is one of the specialty birds that makes the Rio Grande Valley so popular with visiting birders.

Olive Sparrow

One of my favorite is the Green Jay.  In 2011 there were lots of these loud, squawking pushy Jays.  This day we had to look for a very long time to finally find one.

Green Jay

The End
Birds seen:

Great-tailed Grackle
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Clay-colored Thrush
Couch’s Kingbird
White-tipped Dove
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Mourning Dove
Neotropic Cormorant
Northern Shoveler
American Coot
Blue-winged Teal
Black-necked Stilt
Harris’s Hawk
Cinnamon Teal
Pied-billed Grebe
Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Cardinal
Great Kiskadee
Least Grebe
Lincoln Sparrow
Olive Sparrow
House Wren
White-eyed Vireo
Eastern Phoebe
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Meadowlark sp.
American Kestrel
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Orange-crowned Warbler
Black-crested Titmouse
Tree Swallow
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Green Jay

Next time:  More on the Panama Journal


  1. There are many aspects of climate change on our humanity, but your observations about how it might impact places you have volunteered adds a new dimension to my thinking. Birds are impacted too.

  2. Sometimes it's hard to "go home again." The green jay is a beautiful bird.

  3. Was wonderful seeing you two yesterday. Funny how we can just pick up where we left off. Your blogs inspire us.