Assistant Professor of Biology Chad Heins

Heins Leads Hawkwatch

Assistant Professor of Biology Chad Heins began a program counting migratory raptors on the Bethany campus over a decade ago. The program came to be known as Bethany Hawkwatch. During the 2016 counting season, volunteers at the Bethany Hawkwatch observed 9,530 raptors representing 20 species from August 15th to December 15th. During the week of September 16-24, 2017, the Bethany Hawkwatch program will recognize a special week of raptor migration counting in observance of the Hawk Migration Association of North America’s (HMANA) International Hawk Migration Week (IHMW). Traditionally, this is the week when peak numbers of raptors are counted across North America.

The public is invited to two special events at Bethany Lutheran College related to International Hawk Migration Week:

  • Heins, will give a one-hour talk on Tuesday, September 19 at 7 p.m. in Meyer Hall room 101. The talk entitled “Migration Through Mankato” will discuss migration of birds through the Minnesota River Valley with a focus on what has been learned about diurnal raptor migration during the thirteen years of counting raptors at the Bethany Hawkwatch.
  • Heins will also lead a birdwalk on Bethany’s campus on Saturday, September 23, 2017, at 8 a.m. The walk will feature searching for and viewing of warblers, sparrows, and other migrants in the early hours and then visit the Hawkwatch site to help count raptors and learn hawk identification around 10 a.m. This event will be weather-dependent.

According to HMANA, each year hundreds of thousands of hawks, eagles, and vultures make their journey from Canada and the United States to wintering areas as far south as South America. Dedicated counters at hawk watch sites begin documenting this movement as early as August and operate their sites daily into December. Bethany’s site has counted nearly 40,000 southbound raptors over the last 13 years.

This year’s count is underway and community members are welcome to visit or serve as volunteers. For more information about the event or becoming involved with Bethany Hawkwatch, you may contact the Meyer Hall offices at 507-344-7736. For more information about Bethany’s Hawkwatch program, visit the Bethany website. For more information about HMANA please visit their site at

Mankato’s KEYC CBS/FOX news stations featured Heins in a story about the Hawkwatch Program.