Two books came off my nightstand and hit the to-be-shelved pile – both great reads – that are united by their subject matter and [full disclosure] because the authors are friends of mine.
If you don’t have a renewed and deepened appreciation of birds after reading Sy Montomery’s Birdology,you’ve either been thinking pretty hard about birds already or are as numb as a post. We see birds every day and often take them for granted – Sy does an amazing job explaining why we shouldn’t – birds are different. Someone who might get excited about seeing a snake will look at a starling without really seeing it; looking through a starling is less likely after reading Sy’s book. Each chapter in Birdology emphasizes one aspect of difference – Birds Are Dinosaurs (cassowaries)/Are Made of Air (hummingbirds)/etc. I’ve been looking at birds with purpose for over forty years (I attended a lecture by Roger Tory Peterson when I was 10 – a birdwatcher already) but after reading this, I’ll never see them quite the same way again.
There are – believe it or not – more than a few falconry memoirs out there. It’s a tough genre – giants of the sport have written of their experiences, some authors have mixed how-tos with anecdotes and there are, of course, the one-damned-thing-after-another stories. In my reader-side experience, one of the most interesting and productive approaches is to use one’s falconry practice as a candle shining back on the author. Rebecca K. O’Connor takes this approach in Lift, and as far as I’m concerned, does a fantastic job of it. I’m deliberately not going to give much away – if you’re at all interested, you ought to read her words – but Rebecca knits together a narrative of her first season flying her first peregrine (properly, her first tiercel), who she was at that point in her life and vignettes from her (eventful? interesting? read betw the lines here, people) childhood. She doesn’t take the easy way out – Lift confronts some difficult situations and, to her credit – and to the book’s benefit – the childhood stories illuminate but don’t always obviously reinforce what’s happening in the falconry narrative.
Two good books – read ’em.