Veracruz, Mexico, located on the Gulf of Mexico coast about 400km from Mexico City, is home to one of the largest wildlife migrations on the planet. Each fall, between four and six million raptors migrate through Veracruz on the way to their winter homes in Central and South America. As many as two million broad-winged hawks, one million Swainson’s hawks and 200,000 Mississippi kites pass through Veracruz. This is nearly the entire world’s population for these three raptor species!
The raptor migration in Veracruz is an awe-inspiring sight for birders and non-birders alike. A tour to witness this massive wildlife migration is also an excellent opportunity to explore an authentic side of Mexico most travelers never see.
When to See the Raptor Migration in Veracruz
Day after day, through most of September, October, and November each year, these birds fly southward overhead.
The raptor migration is a particularly special wildlife viewing experience because while New World songbirds prefer to fly during the night and opt for a direct route south by flying over the Gulf of Mexico, the raptors fly during daylight hours and rest overnight. These raptors also prefer a more leisurely southward migration, leap-frogging along the coast which makes for excellent viewing opportunities.
The raptors can glide up to 200 miles a day during this migration. As the late afternoon approaches and the sun descends, so do the raptors to overnight in patches of forest.
How to Best Experience the Raptor Migration in Veracruz Mexico
Veracruz is easily accessible via connecting flights through Houston or Mexico City. As this region is far removed from the busy tourist circuits on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, traveling to Veracruz to witness the raptor migration is an excellent opportunity to interact with local people, to learn from local biologists and naturalists, and to engage with the Mexican culture.
Booking a guided tour to this region is the best way to experience this incredible wildlife migration in person. Our fall tour offers an excellent opportunity for nature enthusiasts to experience this in person.
Besides enjoying this staggering spectacle of migrating raptors, our small group Veracruz tour provides the opportunity to visit a range of small villages and sites of historical importance. For example, we’ll see the town of La Antigua where Hernán Cortés established the first Spanish colony in the early 1500s, the 14th-century Totonacan ruins at Cempoala Archaeological Site, and enjoy a visit to the harbor fort of San Juan de Ulúa, originally built to protect the city from pirates and other foreign invaders.