Bethany's location overlooking the Minnesota River Valley affords excellent viewing opportunities for migrating birds. Raptors like eagles, falcons, hawks, and vultures migrate along the river corridor. Since 2004, when data was first collected, nearly 7,000 raptors have been observed passing over the Bethany campus during their fall migration. The Bethany Hawkwatch averages over 800 raptors each season between August 15 and December 15.
In 2010, the Bethany Hawkwatch joined Hawkcount which is a clearing house for data from across the country. That data can then be used for determining the health of raptor populations across North America. Check out the Bethany Hawkwatch website or download the 2012 Bethany Hawkwatch Report.
Image Gallery: Bethany students visit the North Shore to band and release birds
The Cobb River Project
This project is a collaboration between the Bethany Biology Department and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Bethany is carrying out a biological inventory of two waterfowl production areas (WPAs) that are owned and managed by the USFWS. The USFWS provides expertise and equipment and in return gets meaningful data from Bethany that helps them to better manage the WPAs.
Together, the Cobb River and Perch Lake WPAs comprise about 900 acres of bottomland forest, wetlands, grasslands, and restored tall-grass prairie. Bethany students have helped to document over 600 species of plant, animal, and fungi at the WPAs and new species are being discovered every year.
Students that are interested in field biology often have several field trips to the WPAs and many elect to do their own research for their senior capstone experience. Those projects are normally tailored to an individual student’s interest. Some students have donned chest waders to study aquatic macroinvertebrates in the wetlands while others have collected and pressed plants as part of a floral survey. One of those plant collectors even got to go out in the field with the state botanist after finding nine new county records! What are you interested in?
Another important aspect of this project is that it gives Bethany students meaningful field experience that can prepare them for graduate school or help them compete for employment in natural resources. That experience has also helped some of our students to get summer internships with the USFWS and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Image Gallery: Students at work
Image Gallery: Cobb River wildlife