River of Raptors – Veracruz

Highlights of MEXICO: VERACRUZ “River of Raptors” with SABO (Private Tour)

  • Join Sheri Williamson and Tom Wood, directors of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, in Veracruz!
  • Witness the World’s Largest Raptor Migration
  • Be mesmerized by the spectacle of 100,000 raptors streaming overhead an hour!
  • Mexican endemics include Red Warbler, Blue-capped Motmot, Veracruz Wren, Blue Mockingbird and Mexican Sheartail
  • Beautiful birding in coastal plains, coffee plantation, and cloud forest
  • Enjoy local experts, delicious food, and a wonderful time
  • Enjoy the traditions of the Totonacas at Quiahuiztlan and ruins at Cempoala

Description of MEXICO: VERACRUZ “River of Raptors” with SABO (Private Tour)

This special tour to the Veracruz region of Mexico features the “River of Raptors,” one of the great natural phenomenons on earth. We will participate in the world’s most spectacular hawkwatch, where single day counts have exceeded over 700,000 raptors, and the one-day record is 1.5 million!

The last thirteen fall seasons; Pronatura hawk-counters have recorded an average of five million birds of prey per year. Besides enjoying this staggering spectacle of raptors, we will visit a variety of habitats and quaint villages, where local avifauna, raptors and North American migrants are enjoyed. This area ranks among the better places in the Americas to observe eastern and western passerine migrants and wintering birds side-by-side in the same locality. We can expect over 200-250 species, including over 25 species of raptors, a possible 15 species of hummingbirds and numerous endemics.

We will also get a chance to enjoy some of the local culture, when we visit the small town of La Antigua where Cortez established the first Spanish colony in 1520; the 13th century Totonacan ruins at Cempoala, built by a native people who were conquered by the Aztecs and later joined Cortez during the conquest of Mexico’s Tenotichtlan, as well as a visit to the Museo de Antropologia in Xalapa, famous for its collection of colossal heads of Olmecs dating back to 900BC, as well as Quiahuiztlan, a totonac burial site situated on a spectacular monolith overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

In the coastal lowlands we will visit La Mancha Biological Station, a research site with mangroves, a beautiful beach and a coastal lagoon. Possible local birds include Laughing Falcon, Zone-tailed and Black Hawks, with a chance for Boat-billed Heron. Las Barrancas is a vast grassland savannah that holds Double-striped Thick-knee, Aplomado Falcon, Common Tody-Flycatcher and Plain-breasted Ground-Dove and in areas of wet meadows Pinnated Bittern and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture. We make a special trip to visit the shade coffee plantation at El (Rancho) Mirador. This exceptional place hosts Keel-billed Toucan, Bat Falcon and Lesson’s Motmot and  Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, amongst many other birds. For butterfly enthusiasts this is an outstanding location.

Based out of Xalapa, a quaint colonial capitol in the mountains west of Cardel, we will visit the cloud forest at Macuiltepetl Ecological Park. This wonderful park that holds two endemics, Blue Mockingbird and Blue-capped Motmot, and White-naped Brush-Finch, as well as several species of hummingbirds including Azure-crowned, Wedge-tailed and Berylline. We enjoy a visit to the Francisco Javier Clavijero Botanical Garden, where White-fronted Parrot and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch are possible, and with good weather this is another excellent spot for butterflies. Several areas of high-elevation pine forest/oak habitat, such as at Las Minas and La Joya, provide opportunities to observe the endemic Red Warbler, Bumblebee Hummingbird, Striped Sparrow, as well as Rufous-capped Brush Finch, Russet Nightingale-Thrush and Gray Silky-Flycatcher. In past visits, large feeding flocks of mixed passerines, including Slate-throated Redstarts, Golden-browned, Crescent-chested, Olive, Hermit and Townsend’s Warblers and many other special birds provided very exciting birding opportunities.