A superb success as a bird, combining great speed, aeronautical grace, and fearlessness... inhabitant of wild places, inaccessible cliffs, and skyscrapers... worldwide dweller, trans-equatorial migrant, and docile captive - the peregrine falcon stands alone among all others of its kind. Perhaps this is why so many varied people rushed to its aid when it faced decimation by pesticide poisoning.
In this personal and highly entertaining memoir, Jim Enderson tells stories of a lifetime spent studying, training, breeding, and simply enjoying peregrine falcons. He recalls how his boyhood interest in raptors grew into an ornithological career in which he became one of the leading experts who helped identity DDT as the cause of the peregrine falcon's sudden and massive decline across the United States. His stories reveal both the dedication that he and fellow researchers brought to the task of studying and restoring the peregrine and the hair-raising adventures that sometimes befell them along the way. Enderson also seamlessly weaves in the biology and natural history of the peregrine, as well as anecdotes about its traditional and widespread use in falconry as an aggressive yet tractable hunter, to offer a broad portrait of this splendid and intriguing falcon.
The book is published by University of Texas Press.
There is much in this book that is worthy and informative. While interspersed with personal anecdotes, it mainly records the steps taken to detect and remedy the disastrous effects of DDT on raptor populations - especially the peregrine - in the 50s and 60s.
The author is an expert on peregrines and tells the story at length of how some of his close colleagues identified the causes of pesticide toxicity in the peregrine's decline. Later he goes into some detail about falconry, trapping, captive breeding etc. and the heartening revival of the species. He also describes some of the trips he took in order to record the peregrines' old hunting grounds.
However what is missing, for me, is the drama, poetry and wildness I have always associated with the peregrine after reading the magnificent book by J.A.Baker, "The Peregrine," which unforgettably describes his obsession with the bird in a powerful, deeply personal and intense way.
Compared to Baker's book, I found this audio book to be dull at times. The characters of the other scientists and specialists described were less than fascinating, although no doubt worthy of praise in the peregrine's long road back. But there are just too many names sometimes.
The narration is in a "folksy," jolly tone that I found beginning to pall after a while, although at first I liked it.
If Audible Books or any other producer had the insight to make an Audio version of J..A. Baker's The Peregrine available, they would be doing everyone a great service...Compared with that book, this one, is an altogether tamer and somewhat rambling affair.
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