Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 110,000 acres of grasslands and prairies along the southern Gulf Coast of Texas. Each year, millions of birds representing nearly 400 species funnel through this area at the base of the Mississippi Flyway.
The highly invasive Chinese tallow tree shades out native grasses and transforms grasslands, prairies and brushlands into tallow woodlands. The tallow trees grow virtually anywhere there is moisture in the ground, including dikes, the edges of impoundments, and fields. Chinese tallow has infested about 55,000 acres on Aransas Refuge, rendering half of the refuge unusable for a range of bird species, including many declining grassland birds.
Threat to Birds
Short-eared Owls are declining due to the loss of open grassland habitat from agriculture, grazing, housing development, and the reforestation of grasslands following the abandonment of farming. Short-eared Owls require open grasslands for hunting prey. At Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Chinese tallow woodlands are destroying the open grasslands the imperiled owls need to survive.