Featured Species

With over 68 counties and such a wide variety of habitats, our field office relies heavily on partners and multi-agency, state, and field office efforts to conserve and protect these beautiful resources. The locations of the Corpus Christi and Clear Lake’s field offices make them hotspots for a wide array of migratory and resident bird species. Along the coast we have essential stopover sites for birds coming across the long stretch over the Gulf of Mexico, providing refuge to warblers, flycatchers, hummingbirds, and buntings. Migrating hawks can be viewed at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s Smith Point Hawk Watch or Hazel Bazemore Hawk Watch near Corpus Christi. Other birding hotspots including Leonabelle Turnbill Birding Center, Nueces Delta Preserve, and Port Aransas Nature Preserve. Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, energy companies, and volunteers have helped to restore and plant marsh grasses along bird islands to assist local bird rookery islands. Take a trip to the coastal marshes of Rockport and surrounding areas to view the iconic and federally endangered wintering whooping crane. These birds can be seen foraging on wolf berries and blue crabs. In partnership with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, International Crane Foundation, and so many more organizations, we have acquired new areas for habitat, expanded the species’ wintering range, and boosted successful reintroduction into new areas. Two other key bird species include the piping plover and red knot. Found only in our coastal zone, these birds forage on polychaete worms, a type of bristle worm, and other small invertebrate species frequenting the protected bays and flats behind the beach. Our staff along with U.S. Geological Survey, refuges, Audubon Society, researchers, volunteers have participated in the International Piping Plover Census to gather data about the species’ population status. Coordinated efforts with development companies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on coastal restoration and development projects are vital to retain the needed habitat for these species.  

Our office works to conserve a suite of native and endemic rare plant species. From the Texas trailing phlox in the Pineywoods; to South Texas ambrosia in the shortgrass prairie; to the Walker’s manioc in the Tamaulipan thornscrub, our field office relies heavily on partnerships to conserve these plants species. With more than 98% of Texas being privately owned, our partnerships with private landowners, citizens, the public, and the State are essential to conserving, monitoring, and protecting these species in their native geographic range. Collaboration between timber companies, The Nature Conservancy, universities, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and permission to access known populations has enabled the review of the genetic relatedness of populations for the Texas trailing phlox. By working closing with the Texas Department of Transportation and Naval Air Station Kingsville, our field office has been able to access and monitor known populations, collect seeds for banking, protect plants from road construction projects, and test species’ response to burning and other management regimes. Many of these efforts benefit other prairie species in our area, including the Northern Aplomado falcon and the monarch butterfly. Partnerships with private landowners and ranchers in South Texas enabled the successful recovery of Johnston’s frankenia and removal from the Endangered Species list. These partnerships continue to restore and protect the Tamaulipan thornscrub habitat used by the extremely rare and endangered ocelot and Gulf coast jaguarundi.  

Many amphibians and reptiles are native to the south and upper Texas coast. The Houston Zoo, Dallas Zoo, Fort Worth Zoo, San Marcos National Fish Hatchery, Texas State University, and our field office continue to breed, raise, and introduce Houston toads into their native geographic range as part of a headstart program to increase the species’ numbers. Recently, our field office has secured funding for additional research and recovery efforts to benefit the Houston toad. The entire Texas coast is home to marine and beachfront habitats that our five endangered sea turtles use for nesting and foraging. The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle has rebounded in number due to the persistent efforts by the Padre Island National Seashore, in coordination with our staff. Nests are protected in-situ on the beach, eggs are collected and hatched, and then hatchlings released back into the Gulf of Mexico to aid the species’ overall viability.  

White bladderpod (Physaria (=Lesquerella) pallida) is an edaphic (soil) specialist, only known from San Augustine County, Texas.  As a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), this plant is only found on alkaline soils atop glauconite outcrops of the Weches...

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Texas trailing phlox is a herbaceous perennial and member of the family Polemoniaceae.  Seven extant populations occur in Texas on private, public, and state-owned lands within Hardin, Tyler, and Polk counties.  Extant populations, both natural and ex-situ populations (two...

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The Neches River rose-mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx) is a wetland associated and nonwoody perennial in the Malvaceae (mallow) family.  The species can grow to about 2-8 feet (ft) tall and produce hundreds of flowers per plant.  Potential pollinating species may include,...

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Size: 18 cm (7.25 in) in length. Color: Breeding season: Pale brown above, lighter below; black band across forehead; bill orange with black tip; legs orange; white rump. Male: Complete or incomplete black band encircles the body at the breast. Female: Paler head band; incomplete breast band....

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Length: 25-28 cm. Adults in spring: Above finely mottled with grays, black and light ochre, running into stripes on crown; throat, breast and sides of head cinnamon-brown; dark gray line through eye; abdomen and undertail coverts white; uppertail coverts white, barred with black. Adults in...

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Just over 100 years ago, the sounds of male Attwater’s Prairie-Chickens could be heard throughout the gulf coast prairies of Texas and Louisiana, when they numbered up to about 1 million birds.  However, through the 1900s, the Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken’s numbers dwindled to the edge of...

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The green sea turtle grows to a maximum size of about 4 feet and a weight of 440 pounds. It has a heart-shaped shell, small head, and single-clawed flippers. Color is variable. Hatchlings generally have a black carapace, white plastron, and white margins on the shell and limbs. The adult...

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Slightly larger than a domestic cat; appearance is unlike any other cat; looks more like a large weasel or otter; uniform in color with a dark gray-brown to chestnut brown coat; darker animals usually found in the dense forest while the lighter individuals are found in more arid and open areas;...
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The endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle is one of seven species of sea turtles found throughout the world. One of the smaller sea turtles, it has overlapping scutes (plates) that are thicker than those of other sea turtles. This protects them from being battered against sharp coral and rocks during...

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The Kemp's ridley turtle is the smallest of the sea turtles, with adults reaching about 2 feet in length and weighing up to 100 pounds. The adult Kemp's ridley has an oval carapace that is almost as wide as it is long and is usually olive-gray in color. The carapace has five pairs of costal...

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The leatherback is the largest, deepest diving, and most migratory and wide ranging of all sea turtles. The adult leatherback can reach 4 to 8 feet in length and 500 to 2000 pounds in weight. Its shell is composed of a mosaic of small bones covered by firm, rubbery skin with seven longitudinal...

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Loggerheads were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch. The carapace (top shell) is slightly heart-shaped and reddish-brown in adults and sub-adults, while the plastron (bottom shell) is...

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Adults characterized by rufous (rust) underparts, a gray back, a long and banded tail, and a distinctive black and white facial pattern. Aplomado falcons are smaller than peregrine falcons and larger than kestrels.
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Ground colours of the short fur of the ocelot, varies from creamy, or tawny yellow, to reddish grey and grey. The underside of the body, tail, and insides of the limbs is whitish. Rather more blotched than spotted, the chain-like spots are bordered with black. Ocelots have both solid and open...

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The whooping crane occurs only in North America and is North America’s tallest bird, with males approaching 1.5 m (5 ft) when standing erect. The whooping crane adult plumage is snowy white except for black primaries, black or grayish alula (specialized feathers attached to the upper leading end...

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The Houston toad was first described by Sanders (1953) based on specimens collected from the area of Houston, Texas. The species is a small to medium-sized (5 to 8 centimeters [2 to 3 inches] long) amphibian covered with raised patches of skin that resemble warts. The Houston toad is generally...

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Texas golden gladecress (Leavenworthia texana) is an annual plant and member of the Brassicaceae family (mustard).  The genus Leavenworthia includes only eight species in total, all of which occur in glade or prairie/savanna communities.  The Texas golden gladecress...

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The large-fruited sand-verbena (Abronia macrocarpa) is an endemic plant found in Leon, Robertson, and Freestone counties, in the post oak savanna region of eastern Texas.  The nine documented wild populations are known only from private lands and occur no more than 80...

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Plants annual stems erect, 3.5-18 cm (1.4-7.1 in.) high with several divergent branches arising from a rosette of basal fleshy leaves. Basal leaves 1-16 mm (0.04-0.59 in.) wide, up to 4 cm (1.6 in.) long, widest toward the tip, margins with short teeth or lobes from mid—blade to tip. Upper stem...

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South Texas ambrosia is a herbaceous, perennial plant with erect stems. It is grayish-green in color with yellow flowers.
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Texas ayenia is a small shrub and is a member of the chocolate family (Sterculiaceae).
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Walker’s manioc, a member of the spurge family (Euphorbiacea), is a spindly, almost vine-like perennial herb.
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22 cm. Rather small black-and-white woodpecker with longish bill. Above black barred white. Below white with black spots on flanks. Black crown, nape and moustachial stripe border white cheeks and side of neck. Male has small red mark on the side of nape. Juvenile browner with variable extent of...

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Louisiana pinesnakes are egg-laying, non-venomous constrictors with small heads and pointed snouts, and are good burrowers. Reaching up to about five feet long, Louisiana pinesnakes are black, brown and russet. They have a buff to yellowish background color marked with 28 to 38 dark blotches...

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Adult monarch butterflies are large and conspicuous, with bright orange wings surrounded by a black border and covered with black veins. The black border has a double row of white spots, present on the upper side of the wings. Adult monarchs are sexually dimorphic, with males having narrower...

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