360° VR Panoramas of South Texas
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
On the Rio Grande south of McAllen, Texas


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Perimeter levee at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Perimeter levee at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1943 to protect some of the last remaining tropical woodlands and wetlands in south Texas. An estimated 95% of the original extent of these ecosystems has been replaced by agriculture and urbanization.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
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Dead trees at the Santa Ana Refuge

Dead trees at the Santa Ana Refuge

Changing water levels have killed the older trees here and there in the refuge. Managing water resources is a challenge for the planners and administrators of the refuge.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Epiphytic spanish moss at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge

Epiphytic spanish moss at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge

High humidity encourages the growth of Spanish moss, which is not a moss at all, on the older trees in the tropical woodlands here at Santa Ana.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Seasonal pond viewpoint at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge

Seasonal pond viewpoint at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge

Over 400 species of birds have been identified in this area on the Rio Grande near the Gulf of Mexico. The resacas, abandoned river channels, are usually filled with water in the summer but may be dry in winter.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Tree Tower observation platforms at Santa Ana Refuge

Tree Tower observation platforms at Santa Ana Refuge

The Tree Tower rises forty feet, affording a view over the canopy of the Texas ebony forest. Next to it is the Canopy Walk, a swinging bridge through the treetops.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Dodder in a seasonal wetland at Santa Ana

Dodder in a seasonal wetland at Santa Ana

This was an an oxbow lake, a cutoff bend of the Rio Grande, now evolving to seasonal wetlands.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Low levee trail at Santa Ana Refuge

Low levee trail at Santa Ana Refuge

Some of the trails at Santa Ana are on boardwalks, others, such as this, follow low levees between the wetlands. Ecotones such as this, the transition from woodland to marshland, are particularly good for birding.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Jungly scrub forest at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Jungly scrub forest at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

It isn't very attractive, but this scrubby forest and adjoining marshes offer birders a chance to see species such as the chachalaca, groove-billed ani, green jay, and great kiskadee. Many bird species reach their northern limits here in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Looking across the Rio Grande into Mexico at Santa Ana Refuge

Looking across the Rio Grande into Mexico at Santa Ana Refuge

Though still many miles from its end at the Gulf of Mexico, the Rio Grande flows slowly through this very flat country. In Mexico it is known as the Rio Bravo.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Date photographed: March 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

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