River of Raptors“: The title of this article from the September–October issue of Audubon sends shivers down my spine. And the way they describe the spectacle: “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.”

I want to go. I want to go so badly to this strip of land along the Gulf of Mexico centered on the city of Veracruz. There are places near Denver where birders go to watch the hawk migration (Dinosaur Ridge, for example), but I don’t think anyone has reported millions of raptors flying past Denver. There are so many of them going through the Centro de Veracruz (the name of the Important Bird Area) because it’s the logical way for them to get to their wintering grounds in Central and South America. And there are lots of trees to roost in at night—or there used to be.

The article details Audubon’s and ProNatura Veracruz’s efforts to convince farmers to preserve forest along the coast. It’s traditional for farmers to run cattle and grow sugarcane in the area, but the recent drought has made those businesses less profitable. Some locals have decided that restoring the forest with government help and then letting people hunt on their land may be better choices.

The article also briefly mentions that uncertain prospects in the area are driving human migration to the United States. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a way to pay those young men and women to stay in Veracruz state and restore the land?

How is this restoration?

More birding = more restoration, in my book.

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