cover image The Hawk’s Way: Encounters with Fierce Beauty

The Hawk’s Way: Encounters with Fierce Beauty

Sy Montgomery. Atria, $20 (96p) ISBN 978-1-66800-196-7

Naturalist Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus) explores what can be learned from birds of prey in this impassioned introduction to falconry. Blending memoir and research, Montgomery shares stories from her own experiences with raptors while weaving in thoughts from other naturalists, wildlife conservationists, friends, and her falconry instructor, the late Nancy Cowan. Montgomery began taking courses in falconry because of her love of birds, and she soon realized she’d entered “a strange new world” when she watched Cowan get bitten. With flowing, intimate, occasionally humorous prose—“A bird of prey, in fact, is so rarefied that it doesn’t even shit like the rest of us”—Montgomery reveals the uniqueness of falconry and the birds it involves. As she travels from upstate New York to parks in New Hampshire to visit raptors, she reveals them to be enigmatic, sensitive animals that are prone to outbursts of violence. She also finds them alluring creatures, and conveys vividly their hold on her: “My whole soul feels like a yawning hole that only this bird can fill.” The result is a heartfelt and informative primer, just right for adventure- and animal-loving readers. Photos. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. (May)