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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Mexico: Veracruz

Migration is a Moving Experience

September - October 2025
with Steve Howell as leader
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Hawks, you said? Besides many other great birds on offer in Veracruz, the river of raptors is a breath-taking spectacle. Photo: Steve Howell

Spanning from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the snow-capped volcano of Mount Orizaba, Mexico’s highest peak at 18,490 feet elevation, the state of Veracruz is home to an extremely diverse avifauna. Add to this the spectacle of fall migration, especially the world-famous ‘River of Raptors,’ and our short trip to sample this area makes for a memorable and remarkable experience. Based out of only two hotels, we’ll divide our time between the coastal lowlands, where the local birds will compete for our attention amid the migrants, and the highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental and Central Volcanic Belt, where coffee fincas grade into cloud forest and then cool fir forests on the higher slopes. From the recently split Veracruz Wren in coastal cactus to endemic Red Warblers flaunting their color in highland conifers, from tens—or even hundreds—of thousands of Broad-winged Hawks in a day to reclusive Blue-capped Motmots and Collared Towhees, this new trip is a great chance for a wonderful short getaway to the magic of Mexico.

Day 1: If time permits, after arrival we may do some birding on our hotel grounds, where species include Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Yellow-winged Tanager, and even the recently established Monk Parakeet! Night in Veracruz.

Veracruz with Steve Howell was I believe my 12th Wings trip and I can easily say it was the birdiest. Whether it was the Broad-winged Hawk river in the sky, warblers in every tree and bush or 100’s of ducks fighting the wind over the ocean, there were so many birds. Mexico is a bird funnel for North American migrants in the fall. That said, it all depends on the weather, and we lucked out this year.

Kent A, Oct 2023

Days 2–3: As with any migration tour, our daily plans will depend on the weather, but we’ll be checking beaches and coastal migrants traps for shorebirds and landbirds (sometimes including a pleasant variety of warblers, such as Mourning and Hooded), as well as relaxing in chairs to watch the raptor flights, which this early in the season are dominated by Broad-winged Hawks, with smaller numbers of Mississippi Kites, Turkey Vultures, and sundry other species. Resident birds of interest include Aplomado Falcon, Double-striped Thick-knee, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and the recently split endemic Veracruz (née Rufous-naped) Wren, along with so-called South Texas specialties such as Brown Jay, Altamira Oriole, and Plain Chachalaca. Nights in Veracruz.

Days 4–7: We’ll spend another morning on the coastal plain and after lunch move inland to the state capital of Xalapa for four nights. From our base here we can explore pine-oak forest with flitting warbler flocks and skulking brushfinches; shady coffee-finca forest with Blue-capped Motmots and Bronze-winged Woodpeckers (plus a great diversity of colorful butterflies); plateau desert with thrashers, hummingbirds, and sparrows; and even high-elevation fir forest and bunch grass with resident (!) Golden-crowned Kinglets and the local endemic Striped Sparrow. Relict areas of drier grassy and scrub habitat are home to Mexican Sheartail, Botteri’s Sparrow, and the recently split Grass Wren, and anywhere we go we could run into southbound migrants, perhaps an Olive-sided Flycatcher sallying from a tall cactus, or a Canada Warbler sharing its tree with resident Crescent-chested and Olive Warblers. Nights in Xalapa.

Day 8: After a final morning of birding near Xalapa we’ll head back to the lowlands, stopping for any hawk flights, which by now will contain more Turkey Vultures and Swainson’s Hawks than only a week ago, and reaching our hotel in good time to rest and pack before a fine last dinner. Night in Veracruz.

Day 9: Depending on flight times, there may be opportunity for a little morning birding before transfer to the airport and flights homeward, after a rich and fun week exploring a tiny slice of Mexico.

Updated: 17 October 2023


  • 2025 Tour Price Not Yet Available
  • (2023 Tour Price $3,750)


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Questions? Tour Manager: Erin Olmstead. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

Maximum group size 10 with two leaders. 

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