Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

February 1997


One of the classic cases of clashing special interests can be found in Brownsville, Texas, just a few miles from the border with Mexico. On the outskirts of town is a location that has become as much a gathering place for bird watchers as it is for birds. The site, referred to informally as the Mexican Crow Sanctuary, is the only reliable location in the United States to observe this species. Each year, visiting birders pump millions of dollars into the local economy while pursuing the Mexican crow. But not everyone looks with favor at the presence of the birds. The Mexican Crow Sanctuary is a favorite feeding area for gulls, blackbirds, and other species with soiled reputations. "Soiled" is an appropriate term for the birds, for the Mexican Crow Sanctuary is properly known as the Brownsville landfill. While birdwatching is an important element of the state's tourism industry, neither Brownsville's landfill workers, nearby residents, or office workers are enthralled with the droppings or activity of the birds. Each group has a valid but substantially different perspective on the management of Mexican crows and other urban birds that frequent the landfill.