The River of Raptors

By Sheridan Sansegundo

One of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles takes place every autumn as millions of hawks and other soaring birds funnel through the costal lowlands of Veracruz, a slip of coastal plain pinched between the Sierra Madre and the Gulf of Mexico.

Trip to Veracruz for raptor migration
Audubon Ecojourneys
Sept 30-Oct 5
US$1020 ($995 Audubon members)
Colleen Besman, or 415 152-3644.

Down through this bottleneck flies just about every able-bodied broad-winged hawk, Swainson’s hawk, Mississippi kite, and osprey in North America; the northern populations of peregrines, kestrels, merlins, Cooper’s, and sharp-shinned hawks; and most of the turkey vultures of the western United States and Canada. Day after day, through most of September, October, and November, the birds pour southward, something between four and six million hawks and vultures in all.

This Audubon trip, in addition to visiting the three best places to see the raptors, will also take in cloud forests, orchids, museums, archeological ruins, expansive beaches and botanical wonders. It starts in the peaceful and charming Pueblo Magico of Coatepec, famous for its coffee and trout cooked in mango sauce.

After a night down at sea level at the beach, the tour will head back into the lush tropical mountains of Xalapa and Coatepec for three more nights to visit Coatepec’s Museum of Orchids, featuring over 3,000 species of orchids, hike at the spectacular Xico Falls for birding and butterflies and tour Xalapa’s Jardín Botánico Francisco Javier Clavijero, with its 16 acres of tropical plants. There will be a private guided tour of Mexico’s second largest Museum of Anthropology in Xalapa, which many people consider every bit as good as the Mexico City museum.

On the return to San Miguel the group will visit one of Mexico’s largest archeological sites, Cantona, a relatively unknown site surrounded by a landscape of cactus, yucca and pine. This spectacular archaeological site, the largest prehispanic city yet discovered in Mesoamerica, comprises a road network with over 500 cobblestone causeways, more than 3,000 individual residences, 24 ball courts and an elaborate acropolis with multiple ceremonial buildings and temples.

The cost of the five-night trip is $1020 (slightly less for Audubon members) based on double occupancy, payable by August 18. If you are interested in this exceptional trip (which will be repeated next year if you can’t make it this year), please contact Colleen Besman, or 415 152-3644. Information about future Audubon Ecojourneys trips can be found at

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