Falcon by Helen Macdonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Raptors are at the pinnacle of evolution, from the huge eagles that soar in lazy arcs, the hawks that use all their guile and cunning and the falcons that are the Exocet missiles of the avian world; this book is the story of the falcon.
Humans and falcons have had a long history together, young birds were collected and trained for sport and hunting for millennia and it still carries on today in particular in the middle east. But it is a tempestuous relationship, there have been points where we have driven them to almost extinction. Thankfully they are making a comeback, partly as people are more aware of the natural world and care about it, but they have been moving from their original clifftop eyries to the heights of city skyscrapers, and what was once a rare sighting now is commonplace. Macdonald explores how they have entered our culture, given names to aircraft, been venerated way back to Egyptian times and were even used for secret missions during World War II.
Macdonald is better known for H is for Hawk, but she actually wrote this volume first. It is an interesting account of these beautiful but deadly creatures and is full of fascinating facts and some quite amazing pictures. In particular, I liked the photo of a skydiver alongside a peregrine and learning that at full chat when they reach speeds in excess of 200mph, they make a whistling sound as they cut through the air. Great little book, one for all lovers of raptors.
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