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Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Coordinates: 26°4′59″N 98°8′6″W / 26.08306°N 98.13500°W / 26.08306; -98.13500
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Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Map showing the location of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
Map of Texas
LocationHidalgo County, Texas, United States
Nearest cityAlamo, Texas
Coordinates26°4′59″N 98°8′6″W / 26.08306°N 98.13500°W / 26.08306; -98.13500
Area2,088 acres (845 ha)
Governing bodyU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
WebsiteSanta Ana National Wildlife Service

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,088-acre (8.45 km2) National Wildlife Refuge situated along the banks of the Rio Grande, south of Alamo in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, in Hidalgo County, South Texas.

The wildlife refuge was established for the protection of migratory birds in 1943. Its unique location is at the meeting of different climates and habitats: subtropical wetlands, Chihuahuan Desert, Gulf Coast, and Great Plains. Its riparian location has developed a reputation for diverse birding.

Due to its location near the Mexico–United States border, the refuge was at risk of environmental damage during the construction of the Trump wall. The administration exempted the construction in the refuge, but built on the border of it, leading to possible interference due to noise.[1]


Gulf Coast jaguarundi are among the animals found in the refuge

Notable species among the fauna in the refuge include the Texas ocelot (Leopardus pardalis albescens) and Gulf Coast jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi cacomitli) feline species.

Both species are listed as endangered in the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as Amended. The Texas ocelot is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I and the Gulf Coast jaguarundi (seen at left) is listed in the CITES Appendix II.

While not considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these species are acknowledged as rare for the area.


Common gallinule (middle) and blue-winged teals in the refuge

397 bird species have been documented within the park's borders. Many of those are migratory species on their way to and from Central and South America.

A few species to be found there are black-bellied whistling-duck, fulvous whistling-duck, mottled duck, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, cinnamon teal, least grebe, anhinga, tricolored heron, white ibis, lesser yellowlegs, long-billed dowitcher, and least tern.

The Old Cemetery on the grounds of the refuge predates the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo

Osprey, broad-winged hawk, northern harrier, and peregrine falcon are among the migratory birds of prey found in the refuge. Hook-billed kite and gray hawk, seen occasionally in the refuge, attract birders from around the world.

More than 35 species of New World warblers have been seen, including the golden-winged warbler, magnolia warbler, Northern parula, tropical parula, American redstart, palm warbler, and yellow-breasted chat.


Spanish moss growing on trees in the refuge

Santa Ana is home to almost half of all butterfly species found in the United States. More than 300 species of butterflies have been observed at the refuge, with as many as 65 having been seen on a single day.


  1. ^ Guerra, Luciano. "Perspective | I voted for Trump. Now his wall may destroy my butterfly paradise". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-09-15.

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