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The North Bay Sanctuary


The North Bay Sanctuary is a 75-acre wildlife preserve owned and managed by Coastal Bend Audubon Society in San Patricio County. The sanctuary supports a wide array of south Texas wildlife. The combination of aquatic habitats, grasslands, and brushy areas makes the sanctuary a haven for a diversity of bird species year-round. Since the property was acquired it has been managed for the recovery of Tamaulipan thorn scrub brush and native grass communities.
There are several maintained trails, and an elevated viewing platform that gives an �above-the-brush� view of the property. A 12-foot viewing tower can accommodate 15 people, allowing viewers to check out the new prairie wetland project, and to look across the fence at the larger wetlands containing an occasional cattle egret or neotropic cormorant rookery.

Aquatic Habitats

Water is of special importance for attracting wildlife in a semi-arid zone. There are two freshwater (or very mildly brackish) ponds on the property, providing important dietary water for all wildlife - muddy shores for shorebirds, shallow water feeding areas for wading birds, and a variety of cover for waterfowl and marsh birds. A small circulating water feature nestled in the brush provides songbirds an oasis for drinking and bathing. This area is fenced to keep out feral hogs, and has been planted with a variety of low-growing nectar-producing plants and larval host plants for butterflies - a great area to sit and watch migrant songbirds come to take a bath.

Brush Areas

The brush community is dominated by honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), granjeno (Celtis pallida), colima (Zanthoxylum fagara) and la coma (Bumelia celastrina), complemented by agarito (Berberis trifoliolata) and elbowbush (Forestiera angustifolia). Wildflowers can be showy any time of year dependent on rainfall, with major nectar-producing flowers such as lantana (Lantana horrida), scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea), various mistflowers (Eupatorium spp.) and other sunflowers (family Compositae), attracting a diversity of butterflies and other insects.

Grassland area

Lower parts of the property containing slightly alkaline soils support dense stands of sacahuiste (Spartina spartinae) mixing in with other native grasses towards the edge of the brush lines. Open expanses covered with native bluestems and dropseeds are interspersed between brush mottes.

Wildlife Habitat

The combination of aquatic habitats, grasslands, and brushy areas makes the sanctuary a haven for a diversity of bird species year-round. During the summer, the air is alive with the colors and calls of the many painted buntings, white-eyed vireos, green jays, northern cardinals, Bewick�s wrens, yellow-billed cuckoos and groove-billed anis that breed there. Roadrunners can be seen darting in and out of the trails, while eastern meadowlarks sit up on small brushy twigs and claim the prairie. Mottled ducks, least grebes and black-bellied whistling-ducks dabble about in the wetlands.
Fall and spring migration periods are exciting just about anywhere in the Coastal Bend, when you never know what shorebirds might show up at the water�s edge. Among many others, dowitchers, stilt sandpipers, least sandpipers and American avocets are likely to be found passing through or spending the winter. The sanctuary also provides a winter home to many of the more northerly-breeding songbirds such as wrens, wood-warblers, and a variety of sparrows. Hawks can be seen in migration, and accipiters and harriers spend the winter there chasing around the songbirds and shorebirds. Waterbirds such as herons, spoonbills and terns that breed in area bays often stop by the wetlands for a drink of something less salty.
The sanctuary provides habitat for a full complement of south Texas mammals, large and small. One of the tiniest is the diminutive least shrew, a small mole-like insectivore about the size of a thumb, whereas the white-tailed deer that roam the brush are some of our largest mammals. Bobcats and coyotes are occasionally seen, as are cottontail rabbits, armadillos, striped skunks, gophers, and an assortment of native rodents. Bats can sometimes be seen near the wetland on calm evenings. Reptiles and amphibians abound, especially when fresh rainfall has livened up the area. The ubiquitous western diamondback rattlesnake is present, but most of the snakes on the property are non-venomous. Wetland variety translates into amphibian variety, and consequently a cacophony of toads and frogs can be heard in the spring and summer evenings.

Improvements to the Sanctuary

For several years Coastal Bend Audubon Society has been working to improve the habitat quality of the sanctuary. Recent projects include:
  • Control of exotic grass.
  • Installation of a Purple Martin gourd rack providing nesting opportunities for up to 25 pairs of these voracious insect-eaters.
  • Two nest boxes for Black-bellied Whistling-ducks on the wetlands.
  • Creation of a 7-acre shallow water wetland through the Prairie Wetland Program � a collaboration with Ducks Unlimited, US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
  • Seeded the levees with a mixture of native grass seed to provide erosion protection and food for grassland birds as well as waterfowl. This was done with assistance from the USDA Plant Materials Center�s South Texas Project.
To visit the Sanctuary, see map and directions information.

Contact Us at coastalbendaudubon@gmail.com

Sanctuary Photos
Mission Statement
The mission of the CBAS is to promote the appreciation, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife, through education, participation, stewardship and advocacy.
The CBAS meets on the first Tuesday of the month from September through May at 7 pm at the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, 8545 S Staples St, Corpus Christi, TX 78413
Coastal Bend Audubon Society        P.O. Box 3604        Corpus Christi, Texas 78463               Email