Illustration: Meryl Rowin


In Mexico, Grassland Birds and Ranching Can Coexist — with Mauricio de la Maza

"That’s how everything kind of melds together: birds, habitat, water, the people, and economics."

This is episode no. 2 of “Murmurations,” a podcast asking people why birds and the environment matter to them.​


My name is Mauricio de la Maza. I’m from Mexico and I work for Pronatura Noreste. We are a conservation NGO that does all types of conservation work. A large portion of our program focuses on birds, bird habitat, and people, and how people interact with birds in their daily lives.

The Pronatura program that I run focuses on the Chihuahuan Desert and their grasslands, and a little bit on the Tamaulipan Brushland and the Gulf Coast. They’re semi-arid to arid ecosystems, with their challenges, mainly water—freshwater is a big challenge there and freshwater ecosystems. The main threat to our grasslands has to do with water availability and fast conversion to intensive agricultural farming.

So that’s how everything kind of melds together: birds, habitat, water, the people, and economics.

Our ranching program, for example, has found that some of the rancher’s needs and the cattle’s needs are very similar to the birds’ needs. We are working under the premise that if we do good ranching and we develop good ranching practices, then we’ll be contributing to enhancing habitat for the birds that we’re interested in.

We’ve worked everywhere from sending that message to the ranchers, to the farmers, making sure that they understand the role that birds play within their ecosystem and within their economic system, as for example dispersers of seeds, as indicators of how well their habitat is being managed, how the ecosystem is being managed. And that if birds are doing well within their ranches, then they will do well in their ranching practices.


Credits: Interviewed and edited by Hannah Waters; Intro Music: Podington Bear, "The Mountain" (CC BY-NC 2.0); Bird calls: Bobolinks and Lark Sparrows, © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.

“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”