Enjoy, Explore, Learn!
The refuge is an excellent outdoor classroom and offers many programs for schools, families, scout troops or anyone interested in learning.
Whooping Crane Recovery
Today’s whooping cranes are descendants of the last 15 birds found wintering in Texas in 1941.
Managing For Wildlife
The refuge actively manages these lands for the benefit of wildlife and you. Learn how!
Whooping Crane Gallery
View photos, listen to calls, or watch an educational video about the endangered birds
View the Gallery
Trails, overlooks, a fishing pier and 40’ observation tower offer many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the refuge.
The Report on Whooping Crane Recovery Activities provides information on the birds' 2012 breeding season through the 2013 spring migration. It was prepared by the Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinators for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Read the report.
The refuge posts Whooping Crane Updates while the cranes are on the Texas coast, their winter home. Get the most recent information on aerial surveys, habitat conditions and how the refuge is managing for the benefit of these endangered birds. While the Birds are Here
Every winter when the whooping cranes arrive on the Texas coast, biologists fly aerial surveys to try and get an estimate of the endangered birds’ population. These flights are conducted in December when most of the whooping cranes are known to be on their wintering grounds. This is also a prime time for many other birds to be feeding in the coastal marsh. When flying over whooping crane habitat, this is the view from the plane. If you were counting the birds, how many whooping cranes would you say are below?Click here to find out!
About the NWRS
The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
Learn more about the NWRS
The Visitor Center is open Thursday through Sunday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. It is closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas. The refuge tour loop is open everyday 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. Public restrooms are available.
The refuge uses Distance Sampling to estimate the population of whooping cranes within an established survey area. This survey method has been used to estimate populations of many other rare and endangered species, including fin whales, Karner butterflies and raptors. The refuge is not only interested in estimating the population within the survey area, it is also important to collect data on habitat conditions, food sources and other information that will lead to the best management decisions for the whooping cranes and other wildlife species.Counting the Birds
The average life span for an alligator that survives its first two years of life is about 50 years!
The Matagorda Island Unit of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is part of long chain of barrier islands that extend down the Texas coastline. This rugged landscape is host or home to many amazing wildlife species, including whooping cranes, Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, reddish egrets, alligators and coyotes.
Page Photo Credits All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted., Pier / Jeff Adams, Whooping Crane / Ryan Hagerty ©
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2013