I haven’t read the book, but given the heaps of praise it’s recieved from non-falconers it’s nice to see a falconer take the time to write a review.
From the review: “This will probably be the only bad review you’ll ever read of H is for Hawk.
Note: it’s not really a bad review, it’s a good review with a sidebar. Helen Macdonald writes breathtaking prose, her story is poignant and filled with all kinds of fascinating bits of information, and she has an extremely likable voice. So what’s wrong with the book?
I had an experience yesterday which was both amazing and kind of strange.
Sarah and I went to a friend’s house for dinner. The area they live in is really open with large yards and few trees. As we walked up to the house I noticed some kind of raptor near the bushes next to the house. The sun wasn’t quite right and all I saw was a silhouette of a largish bird. I decided to get closer to see what it was. Turns out it was a huge Cooper’s hawk. I got within 10′ or so before it decided that was close enough <i>and it ran across the yard</i> (20 feet or so). I thought that was really weird, so I walked up to it again, and it ran a bit further. Walked up again and it flew the last few feet to some bushes, but pulled up short in front of them. I thought I could get close again and snuck around the bush, making sure I didn’t see it fly away. I came around the bush and it wasn’t there anymore. I walked up to where it had been standing and looked around. A second later it hopped up to the top of the bush, which is maybe 5′ tall, with it’s back to me. It was only 3′ or so away. I saw the striped tail but noticed the the eyes were brown and the breast was streaked with brown and thought that was strange – I found out when I got home those are characteristics of an immature bird. It looked at me for a few seconds, long enough for me to make those observations, pull my phone out and get it ready to take a photo, before lazily flying off to stand on the roof of the house across the street.
I posed this to the Arkansas Hawking Association forum to see what other people thought. It seems to me to be really strange behavior for a Cooper’s hawk. It might be that it’s an inexperienced juvenile and didn’t know how to handle the situation. I thought it might also be a case of acclimatization – it was in a suburban area and so around people a lot, maybe it’s just use to humans.
Immature Cooper’s hawk. © William Jobes. The original photo can be found here
Immature Cooper’s hawk in flight. © Gerard R. Dewaghe. Original photo can be found here
This is the angle I saw the hawk from when it was in the bush. © invisiblewoman. Original photo can be found here
Here’s an adult Cooper’s for comparison. The eyes are red, wings and back are slate grey. ©Onafly. The original photo can be found here