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Harris Center Reads: Hawks

September 1, 2020
A Red-tailed Hawk perched on a post. (photo © Stephane Tardif via the Flickr Creative Commons)

Let Your Heart Soar…

Welcome to Harris Center Reads — a monthly, curated list of good reads for curious naturalists of all ages! In September, when raptors soar and swirl overhead on their southbound migration, we share our recommendations for books about hawks. While you scan the skies for hawks and eagles, enjoy a blue-sky view with the following stories about these spectacular birds.

For Adults

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Follow along as falconer Helen Macdonald recounts her experience with training a fierce, wild goshawk while at the same time grieving the death of her father. The New York Times called this book “breathtaking,” “beautiful,” and “nearly feral.”

Red-Tails in Love: Pale Male’s Story — A True Wildlife Drama in Central Park by Marie Winn. Fall in love with not only the hawks in this true story, but also the human characters who share in the trials and tribulations of Pale Male and his mate. Highly recommended by Harris Center Naturalist Emeritus Meade Cadot, who happened to be visiting Central Park on the day Pale Male’s chicks hatched.

Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul. Written by a field researcher who has studied bird migration for more than twenty years, Living on the Wind unpacks the science of bird migration in eloquent, accurate prose. Marvel at massive kettles of hawks spiraling above the Mexican coastal plain, bar-tailed godwits who fly nonstop for 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, and the epic journeys of tiny songbirds in this fascinating, detailed book.

Picture Books for Kids

Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall. A story about a boy and a captive hawk who longs for freedom. This Caldecott winner feature sparse, poetic language and evocative pen-and-ink art.

The Peregrine’s Journey: A Story of Migration by Madeleine Dunphy and Kristin Kest. A beautifully written and illustrated account of the remarkable trip peregrines make each year, based on a real Peregrine Falcon who was tracked via satellite telemetry by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Hawk Highway in the Sky: Watching Raptor Migration by Caroline Arnold and Robert Kruidenier. With vivid, close-up photographs and clear text, this non-fiction book — appropriate for readers in 4th grade and up — highlights the work of raptor scientists and volunteers with HawkWatch International.

For Middle School Readers

Raptor! A Kid’s Guide to Birds of Prey by Christyna M. Laubach, Rene Laubach, and Charles W.G. Smith. With a wonderful mixture of photographs, illustrations, and information, this book will answer most middle school students’ questions about these fascinating birds. A resource on all things raptor that the Harris Center teaching staff highly recommends.

Frightful’s Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Part of the classic My Side of the Mountain trilogy, this novel tells the story of what happens to the Peregrine Falcon, Frightful, when Sam Gribley has to let her go free. A poignant tale of survival, adaptation, and interspecies bonds, told from Frightful’s point of view.

Where to Find These Books

BUY. We’d like to give a special shout-out to our local bookseller, Toadstool Bookshops in Keene and Peterborough! They’re open for in-person shopping, and they also offer curbside pickup.

BORROW. In addition, many local libraries have re-opened and/or are offering curbside pickup, as well as a wide variety of eBooks and other digital options. Check with your town library for more information.