Vintage, 2015. 326 pages, Octavo, paperback,
Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. In her youth, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for 800 pounds on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals. An unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.
Vintage, 2015. 326 pages, Octavo, paperback,
Raptors are formally classified into five families and include birds – such as eagles, ospreys, kites, true hawks, buzzards, harriers, vultures, and falcons – that are familiar and recognized by many observers. These diurnal birds of prey are found on every continent except Antarctica and can thrive in seemingly inhospitable spots such as deserts and the tundra. They have powerful talons and hooked beaks for cutting and tearing meat, and keen binocular vision to aid in their hunting prowess. Because of their large size, distinctive feeding habits, and long-distance flight patterns, raptors intrigue humans and have been the subject of much general interest as well as extensive scientific research.
Eagles are awe-inspiring birds that have influenced much human endeavour. Australia is home to three eagle species, and in Melanesia there are four additional endemic species. A further three large Australian hawks are eagle-like. Eagles, being at the top of the food chain, are sensitive ecological barometers of human impact on the Earth’s ecosystem services, and all of the six Australian species covered in this book are threatened in at least some states (one also nationally). Three of the four Melanesian tropical forest endemics are threatened or near-threatened. In Australasian Eagles and Eagle-like Birds, Dr Stephen Debus provides a 25-year update of knowledge on these 10 species as a supplement to the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (‘HANZAB’) and recent global treatises, based partly on his own field studies. Included are the first nest or prey records for some Melanesian species. This book places the Australasian species in their regional and global context, reviews their population status and threats, provides new information on their ecology, and suggests what needs to be done in order to ensure the future of these magnificent birds.
Australasian Eagles and Eagle-like Birds is an invaluable resource for raptor biologists, birdwatchers, wildlife rescuers and carers, raptor rehabilitators and zookeepers.
The definitive work on Europe’s largest and most spectacular owl. The Eagle Owl – known rather more evocatively as the Uhu in German, in reference to its haunting, far-carrying nocturnal call – is a very large and impressive bird of prey. One of the largest owls in the world, it is a fierce hunter of large birds and mammals up to the size of foxes and small deer, and as an undisputed top predator, its ecology is fascinating. This Poyser monograph looks at distribution, foraging ecology, migration, breeding behaviour, conservation issues and population dynamics of this spectacular bird, across its vast Eurasian range. The authors, Vincenzo Penteriani and María del Mar Delgado, have undertaken many years of research on populations in and around the Coto Doñana in Spain. Other populations considered include the tiny, recently introduced one in England. This is the ultimate reference to what in many ways is Europe’s ultimate predator.
Our relationship with the birds of prey has always been conflicted. Raptors are admired for their strength and independence, but despised for their depredations on livestock and favourite garden birds, while the owls are at once respected for their wisdom and watchfulness and feared for their mournful cries and association with darkness and ill-omen. Australian Predators of the Sky comprises over 200 striking paintings, lithographs and engravings of all 34 Australian species – 25 diurnal birds of prey and nine owls. From odd-looking first depictions to stunning, detailed portrayals of the species, the illustrations cover more than two centuries of bird art, selected from the National Library of Australia’s collection. The artists include George Raper and John Hunter (First Fleet naval officers), Sarah Stone, John and Elizabeth Gould, Ellis Rowan, Neville Henry Cayley, Lilian Medland, Ebenezer Edward Gostelow, and, more recently, Betty Temple Watts, Frank Knight and Jeff Davies.