The Crying Hawk

For two days (Wednesday and Thursday) last week, a beautiful Red-Tailed Hawk soared and circled over my yard crying loudly.  Unable to determine why it was "stressing," I continued to observe, listen and wonder.  You see, I always want to know why.  

Then I knew.  Late last Wednesday night, my friend Mike told me that "we lost Don today."  Yes, his close friend and mentor, Donald Hopkins, had passed away that afternoon.  I knew then why the hawk was overhead.  The hawk was an omen of Don's passing.  Call me crazy but seeing and hearing that Red-tailed hawk the day of his passing made me believe in "signs" even more.  

You see, Don got his start counting hawks.  As a volunteer and co-founder of HMANA (Hawk Migration Association of North America) (HMANA History),  "keeping watch over CT Bald Eagles" became his mission after hawks.  He went on to become one of the most well known and respected Eagle observers, documenting behaviors, mating, nesting and behavioral stages of feeding and chick development along with a myriad of other analytical data and documentation about the magnificent raptors. 

I will always remember the day my friend Mike brought me to the nursing home to meet Don.  Some of my observations and field stories made him grin ear to ear when I was introduced to him in June of this year (My Heart Soared).  I even got a "good-bye" kiss that day.  Mike told me he hadn't seen him smile like that in a long, long time.  It was an honor and a privilege to meet this beautiful man. His obituary reads:

"Donald A. Hopkins passed away on Wednesday, August 8th 2018. He was born June 27th 1926 in West Hartford. He was predeceased by his loving wife Mary Jane. He leaves a daughter Julia of Windsor; a daughter Joyce Welch and her husband Robert of Ellington; a son Henry and his wife Susan with daughter Lindsey and son Randal of East Hampton; and son Donald Scott with daughter Rachel and Hayden of Salem, Oregon. He also leaves behind countless friends and colleagues who shared his deep passion for nature and his sense of humor. Donald was a graduate of Peekskill Military Academy in 1944. He enlisted in the US Marines in July 1944. He took part in the assault and capture of Okinawa on April 1st 1945 as a member of the 4th Marine regiment, and took part in the surrender and occupation of Japan in September of 1945. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor's degree in physics, and went to work for the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Maryland. In 1955, he joined the family business McNie & Hopkins Bindery Service of Bloomfield Connecticut, retiring as president in 1995. He co-founded the New England Hawk Watch Committee in 1971, and co-founded the Hawk Migration Association of North America in 1974. In 1993, he was awarded the Maurice Broun award for his work on raptor migration, and in 1994 he was awarded the Mabel Osgood Wright award by the Connecticut Ornithology Association. He published more than a dozen papers regarding his studies of bald eagles, and received letters of recognition from professional wildlife societies for his work. He was most proud of locating the first bald eagle nest in Connecticut following 40 years of their absence, and founding the Connecticut Bald Eagle Study Group. In 1996, he received the Watershed Protection Award from the Metropolitan District Commission for his long term monitoring work studying eagles on the District's land. During the 1960s, Donald served on the Advisory Board for the Windsor Public Library. He was a long time member of the Raptor Research Foundation, Wilson Ornithological Society, Hartford Audubon Society, and the Sunflower and Cattail Fishing Club....In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Donald's memory to either DEEP Non-harvested Wildlife Fund, P.O. Box 1550, Burlington, CT 06013, or Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation & Education, P.O. Box 238, Ashford, CT 06278. "

Farewell my friend.  Soar high.

just seeing, saying, and sharing...

The Crying Hawk

with you and those at


Monkeywrangler said…
I am sorry for the loss of your friend...May he soar on eagle's wings now!
Ann said…
So sorry for the loss of your friend
Sylvia said…
JP, My condolences for your loss of a fellow bird person. Sylvia D.
jabblog said…
Signs and omens, never to be ignored. I'm glad you found the reason for the calling but sorry for your loss.
Hootin' Anni said…
This is such a touching tribute! I cried.

I'm glad you shared this with us at I'd Rather B Birdin' this week...reminds me of a book I read long ago about 'why Elephants Cry'.
betty-NZ said…
Thanks for sharing this awesome post. I'm so sorry for your loss.
Rambling Woods said…
We lost a friend on Friday who volunteered his time at Hospice to make videos for those soon to die... It is hard to lose someone .... Michelle

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