These photographs comes from my friend and fellow ethno-ornithologist Mercy Njeri, a young Kenyan woman studying in the US.

We share a fascination with raptors and in her most recent message she said:

Solitary Hawk! LIFER! 4 million migrating raptors for this season – not bad and still expecting four hundred thousand Turkey Vultures…Veracruz – River of Raptors.

Photo: Mercy Njeri

Mercy has been chasing the annual migratory movements of millions of raptors through the northern continental Americas and is now in Veracruz – where there is literally an aerial River of Raptors.

The wonderful people at HawkWatch International tell me will give Mercy and all the other lucky souls great views of:

Each fall, 4-6 million raptors migrate through Veracruz on their way to winter ranges in Central and South America. Because of the region’s geography, raptors from eastern, central, and western North America converge, providing visitors with a display unequaled anywhere on the planet.

As many as 2 million Broad-winged Hawks, 1 million Swainson’s Hawks, and 200,000 Mississippi Kites–nearly the entire world population for these three species–pass through Veracruz each fall. In addition, more than 1.5 million Turkey Vultures join the flight, as do thousands of other raptors, waterbirds, and songbirds.

Combine this with the hundreds of resident bird species in the state of Veracruz, and the scores of Olmec, Totonac, and Aztec archeological sites, all set in the friendly, unspoiled culture of east central Mexico, and you have the adventure of a lifetime.

Anyway – back to the barbie.

As anyone who has spent time in Mexico or the south-western USA will know, Armadillos are relatively common, and, as this entry at Wikipedia says:

Armadillos (mainly Dasypus) make common roadkill due to their habit of jumping to about fender height when startled (such as by an oncoming car). Wildlife enthusiasts are using the northward march of the armadillo as an opportunity to educate others about the animals, which can be a burrowing nuisance to property owners and managers.

Roadkill Armadillo. Photo: Professional Wildlife Removal
Roadkill Armadillo. Photo: Professional Wildlife Removal

Anyway, in Mercy’s travels in Veracruz someone came up with the idea of barbecuing a few Armadillos.

Photo: Mercy Njeri

Mercy says that she is a bit ambivalent about the experience – delicious but:

Spiced Armadillo…poa lakini…ni Bush Meat…though nilimanga…now I am a vegetarian by circumstances…

Shell yenyewe ni ka ya tortoise…ati no nyama…tuiohere mehia maitu nitondu tutiui uria tureka…!

Super delicious, better than Crocodile meat!

Mercy told me that:

I preferred not to look at what i was munching because it gave me memories of our endangered African Elephant Shrew found in the Arabuko Sokoke Forest!

The meal is typical of traditional Mexican food. Eaten by locals and cannot be found in the markets – only occasionally in the homes of the locals. These was brought for us by the father of one of my colleague’s from upcountry.

Mercy didn’t have a recipe – It’s a Mexican secret!!” – but I found this one from the folks over at Backwoods Bound:

Bar-B-Q’d Armadillo

Thanks to Jason Hunter for sending this recipe.

~ 1 armadillo

~ bacon grease

~ 1 cup butter

~ 1/2 cup ketchup

~ 1/2 cup grated onion

~ 2 tbsp mustard

~ tabasco to taste

In a sauce pan, combine the butter, ketchup, onion, mustard and tabasco. Heat over low heat until the butter is melted. Stir occasionally.

Rub bacon grease into the armadillo.

Grill over a hot fire for 5 minutes.

Reduce the fire by half.

Baste the meat with the sauce until done. Armadillo is cooked like pork.

Serve and Enjoy!

Serve and enjoy. Photo: Mercy Njeri
Serve and enjoy indeed! Photo: Mercy Njeri