Seasons of Wildlife


In January or February, look in areas that were recently burned for Sandhill Cranes. These are also good places to look for male prairie-chickens, who may start their courtship displays as early as January. Winter is also a good time to search for Burrowing Owls or Short-eared Owls.  

A dickcissel sings in the prairie.


Spring is a good time to spot a variety of songbirds, wading birds and shorebirds migrating through. Dickcissels will start singing across the prairie and continue into summer. This is when the diversity of wildflowers really booms, and the carpet of flowers changes every week. March is the peak of booming season for prairie-chickens. Drive the entrance road and auto tour loop in the early morning to search for dancing males. 


Sunflowers fill the prairie, jackrabbits can be spotted running into the grass, and coveys of quail may flush from the road. 


Early fall brings migratory songbirds, raptors and monarch butterflies. The tall grasses of the prairie will turn gold and amber as they starts to seed.

Featured Species

Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve the coastal prairie habitat and the critically endangered Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken. Although the refuge was established for the benefit of the prairie-chicken, the refuge is host or home to many other wildlife species found on this prairie. 

Jackrabbits or a covey of Northern Bobwhite may dart out from the tall grass. White-tailed deer are often seen browsing or leaping across the field. Crested Caracaras, White-tailed Hawks, a wide variety of sparrows and more are seen from the auto tour, as well as other native wildlife such as bobcats, coyotes and spotted skunks

When hiking one of our trails, look closely. The coastal prairie is diverse in plants and wildlife. If you observe it on a smaller scale, you will discover small creatures too like butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, and lizards. The number of plant species that grace the prairie are almost too numerous to count. There’s always something wild to see Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge.

Learn about Northern Bobwhites and quail surveys at the refuge in this video by Claire Hassler (audio-described version).  

The green lynx spider is perched atop the stalks of a blazing star plant.
A plump barred prairie-chicken raises his tail feathers and struts in the short grass.

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...

FWS Focus