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Neil Currie
Don Hopkins
Jerry Mersereau
Jan Mitchell
Stuart Mitchell
Mort & Helen Bates


Don Hopkins

Early Leaders

Paul Carrier
Seth Kellogg
Bill Welch

Osprey, in migration mode
Don at 2015 NEHW Conference



Don Hopkins

A Visionary of Raptor Studies


Don Hopkins

Don Hopkins, from Windsor, Connecticut, was one of the major leaders in the newly emerging hawk watching and conservation movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Don was one of the main drivers for organizing the Syracuse Hawk Migration Conference in 1974, and for the formation of HMANA in 1974 as an outgrowth of that conference. In 1971 Don had been one of the founders of the New England Hawk Watch (NEHW) which established seasonal hawk watches in that six-state area to determine the approximate size and paths of migration for hawk species, many of which had been in serious decline. Don served as co-editor of the NEHW Reports, describing and analyzing raptor migration through New England, giving him an uncommon understanding of what was happening and served as President of NEHW for approximately two decades. The NEHW added portions of NY & NJ in the 90's and became the NorthEast Hawk Watch, which now has data on and analysis of hawk migration through the region for almost half a century!.

Don Hopkins was not only an organizer; he was an innovator, working closely with professional meteorologists to better understand the relationship between weather and hawk migration. He was also among the first to strongly recommend and actually employ low-speed aircraft, including small planes and motor-gliders, to track and monitor migration from the air as well as from land-based observers. He also began organizing  periodic NEHW conferences on hawk migration, believed to be the first such regional conferences established.

An inspiration to so many, Don was a rare breed of a seemingly quiet, low-key, incredibly effective, self-effacing leader. He helped spread an appreciation and understanding of hawks and of hawk migration, and added to the lives of many people who responded to his love of these birds and his messages of hope. Don Hopkins will be missed...but not forgotten.
Tribute by Paul Roberts


Related Links:   NEHW      HMANA

See also:  Connecticut Wildlife, Jul/Aug 2014, page 8-9.