The Brazos River begins in north-central Texas and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The river, which empties near the town of Freeport, is the longest river in Texas. The headwaters are located just across the Texas state line in New Mexico. The northern region of the river basin is temperate; it transitions to a more tropical environment near the coast. As such, the Brazos River is home to a diverse population of wildlife.
The water source supplied by the river is critical for land mammals in the Brazos River Basin. The river and associated riparian habitat is utilized by whitetail deer, mule deer, rabbits, rodents, possums and prairie dogs. The highest ends of the watershed in New Mexico are also home to an elk population.
The Brazos River is home to 44 fish species. Many of the species are minnows and shiners, while others are sport fish. Both native and introduced species inhabit the river. The habitat and water movements are influenced by dams and human populations. Common minnow and baitfish species include bullhead minnows, ghost shiners, red shiners and mosquitofish. Larger species include drum, channel catfish, carp, crappie, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass.
Resident and Migratory Birds
The rivershed is home to a large number of bird species. Migratory waterfowl such as mallards, mergansers and teal utilize the river system. Blue herons and bald eagles also hunt the fish populations in the river. Warblers, cranes, plovers, peregrine falcons, sparrows, woodpeckers and sandpipers are present throughout the year. A bird book specific to the region is valuable for adamant bird watchers, as the species found there number in the hundreds.
The Brazos River provides excellent habitat for reptiles. The temperate nature of the region is ideal for a large list of venomous and non-venomous snakes. Venomous snakes include the cottonmouth, diamondback rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, copperhead and coral snake. Non-venomous varieties include garter snakes, ribbon snakes, plains blind snakes, corn snakes, rat snakes and mud snakes. The river also provides a home for slider and snapping turtles.
Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can follow his work at bustedoarlock.com.