Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The 'river of raptors' here in Veracruz has almost dried up, and on most days now amounts to little more than an occasionally pulsating rivulet. Various winter residents have arrived, among them a Merlin, a Cooper's Hawk and a few redtails in Chichicaxtle, and in Cardel an immature female Cooper's Hawk.

But Cardel's most famous avian winter resident is this bird, an adult female tundrius Peregrine that has wintered here for many years now, and is known to us counters as 'Cardelia'.

Cardelia arrived in the last week of September, and since then can often be found perched on one of the town's communication towers. She generally leaves Cardel's sizable pigeon population alone, and usually goes hunting in the dunes and on the beach nearby. Shorebirds and waterfowl are probably tastier than city pigeons.

Two of the three communication towers provide favorite perches, the third is barely used. When perched on one of these towers, she does not allow any raptor or vulture near or on it. Migrant Peregrines and resident Aplomado Falcons are often greeted by loud calling and are usually shown the way out.

She did allow a (smaller) male to sit with her for a few weeks, although he hasn't been seen lately. He was named, rather unimaginatively, 'Cardelio', the boyfriend of Cardelia.

For a short while early October, there were even three Peregrines in Cardel. At the peak of migration, there was probably enough food around in the form of migrant shorebirds to support three Peregrines. It seems likely that Cardelio and the other, unnamed suitor - also a male - were eventually chased out of town as the local food supply shrank.

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