This book is considered a classic in nature writing. Classic. I need to thank Alex for dropping this on my door. Much appreciated. And seeing as I now have a bird fetish the book had even more resonance. Two days ago I was on my bike and nearly took a massive Red-tailed hawk on my head. I heard the wing beat over the road noise because he or she was that close. The great beast heaved past and took a perch on a telephone pole. I stopped and gawked.
The Peregrine, by J. A Baker, is a finely tuned razor of delivery. One man, one season, one journal, several birds. Sure, the author makes sure you aware of the location and the difference between a falcon and tiercel, and the fact these birds are dying because of the human love of pesticide, but the rest of the book is a straight and detailed observation by one very dedicated individual.
This is really the key people. You don’t need to travel to the end of the world to see and feel the exotic. Just go outside, take your time and look around.
This is one of the great books of all time. I found out about it when Werner Herzog recommended it. He said it was a lesson in learning how to observe: you look carefully, like a scientist, but with passion, like a poet. The writing itself is magnificent. Thank you for posting the review. I hope it leads many more readers to this masterpiece. And now, I’m going to my shelf, dust it off and re-read it one more time.
Those are some great recommendations!
Dan, funny timing. Spotted a pizza loving hawk the other day in my Seattle neighborhood. I’m not sure if there are a lot of them hanging around or I just keep seeing this one – sometimes sitting confidently on a wire or limb as a murder of crows deploys its harassment campaign.
If anyone’s interested, take a look – spot the bird?
Urban hawks love pizza and pixie sticks.
I found the entire book to be a reminder to slow the HELL down.
Werner Herzog made this required reading for his Rogue Film School class. A study in persistent, relentless observation.
It makes you realize how little you need if you pay attention. (A problem for me.)