Yeah, I was lucky to have been at the watch site that date. I’ve usually missed our really big days. That year the migration was held up by a bunch of hurricanes that hit Central America, so that many of the birds came through together. (Since they rely on thermal soaring, they can only migrate when the weather is good). We got nearly half of the total migration at that site coming through on one day. Last year, we had a count of around 800,000 raptors there in one day, but I missed it.
Because the isthmus is so narrow (50 miles) it concentrates the migration and makes it easy to count raptors. Much of the North American population of Turkey Vultures, Broad-winged Hawks, and Swainson’s Hawks passes through Panama on their way to South America. (Swainson’s goes all the way to Argentina.) In 2004 we counted at a string of 10 sites all the way from ocean to ocean (mostly within sight of one another) and counted 3.3 million raptors in six weeks.
That’s awesome, congrats! My favortie of yours is the one on birds and hot peppers, patricularly this line:
“For anyone who has ever “enjoyed” a five-alarm mondongo at a Mexican restaurant, two questions will immediately leap to mind: (a) How can such featherweight creatures consume enough incendiary material to vaporize a camel and still show no signs of discomfort? and (b) hokey smokes, Josephine, what do you suppose that will do to their tiny bungholes tomorrow morning?”