Wildlife and Habitat


Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge has a diversity of coastal wildlife, including more than 400 species of birds, 95 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 130 species of butterflies and dragonflies.

It is because of its strategic location on the Texas Gulf Coast that the refuge supports an incredible diversity of wildlife. Mild temperatures, fresh and salt water estuaries, bay waters and a blend of soils are a few of the factors that have created this rich habitat and home to many wildlife species.

On the refuge, mud flats and salt water marshes gradually give way to fresh water. While countless numbers of shorebirds crowd the salty shoreline and shallow bay waters, thousands of waterfowl fill the marshes and freshwater ponds. Between the salty and fresh waters are the brackish wetlands that serve as nurseries, supporting shellfish and finfish, an important source of food for many species like great blue herons, roseate spoonbills, and wood storks.

Moving farther inland, as the rivers and rainfall continue to dilute the brackish waters, the landscape is transformed into freshwater marshes, ponds and winding bayous. Here, lotus-covered wetlands and cattails support purple gallinules, bitterns, frogs, and crawfish. River otters frolic in the tea-colored waters and alligators sun themselves on the banks.

As the salinity levels change, so do the plants. The smooth cordgrass and sea ox-eye daisy found in the salty environment slowly give way to plants dependent on freshwater, including Gulf cordgrass and bacharis. Add a slight elevation gain and change in soil composition and the wetland habitat slowly blends into coastal prairie, dominated by blue stems. Here, bees, butterflies and moths blanket the colorful wildflowers and grasses and perform an important service to wildlife and humans alike -- pollination. Learn more about the sedges and rushes of the refuge and surrounding counties in this paper produced by staff and completed with funding from the Friends of Brazoria with photos by Master Naturalist volunteers.