Mad Island Marsh Preserve was once a family-owned rice farm. Before that, it was part of a marsh and prairie ecosystem that stretched along nearly the entire Gulf Coast. The Nature Conservacy now owns the property and is in the process of returning the land to its original form.
The marsh, part of the Matagorda Bay estuarine habitat, on the Texas Gulf Coast, lies at the terminus of the Central Flyway, one of four principal North American migratory bird routes. Nearly 250 species of birds--including migrating and resident songbirds, shorebirds, colonial nesting birds, and wading birds--use the area for feeding, resting and roosting. Yet, the preserve's upland prairies represent a part of the remaining 2 percent of the original tallgrass coastal prairies once found across Texas.