Each year some five million hawks, eagles, kites and other birds of prey in Canada and the United States take off for warmer climes to the south, passing through a long, narrow corridor in the state of Veracruz, between the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Gulf of Mexico.
It took a Mexican organization named Pronatura 32 years to discover and verify this and find an ideal spot in the corridor for observing and counting one of the most spectacular annual migrations in the world.
If you visit Pronatura’s observatory in Veracruz, you can see “clouds” of hawks, kites, ospreys, turkey vultures, and many other birds through most of September, October and November.
These raptors, of course, are not the only avifauna heading south. Songbirds migrate to and from the same parts of the Americas, but they take more direct routes. For example, most of them fly straight across the Gulf of Mexico, covering a staggering distance of 800 kilometers in less than 20 hours.
This takes a lot of energy and a lot of wing flapping. Hawks and other raptors prefer a much lazier approach to flying when they can find it, spending most of their time soaring and gliding.