Noted author Sy Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus) has a love affair with hawks, which conflicts with her determination not to harm animals because, by their nature, hawks are predators, surviving by killing and eating other animals. This is flaunted, and Sy must come to grips with this when she assists with the ‘training’ of a hawk – teaching a captive hawk how to hunt by releasing live quail into the air with the express purpose of having the hawk attack and kill the quail.
Sy Montgomery’s love affair with animals in our natural world has been well documented in her excellent books – her most famous probably being The Soul of an Octopus (which had been my introduction to her work). It doesn’t seem strange to us, the readers, that she would also be interested in hawks until she brings up the personal conflicts she must overcome in order to train alongside an experienced hawk handler.
In her very direct and personal style, Montgomery teaches us some very basic and interesting facts about hawks and about hawk handling. That even a hawk whose grown accustomed to a handler for years might turn suddenly on that handler (though probably because of a slight change in routine) – as evidenced by the experienced handler, Nancy Cowan, who’s suffered severe face lacerations from razor sharp claws and spiked beaks.
Montgomery’s writing is very conversational and direct. We feel as though we’ve been invited to a dinner party she’s hosting and she’s sharing stories from her recent encounters. This has a comforting effect but it also takes away, slightly, from experiencing the hawk through her eyes. At times this becomes more about Sy than about the hawk(s).
This is a very short book (fewer than 100 pages!) but fans of Montgomery’s work and birders should find this well worth reading.
The blurb for the book indicates that there are 16 pages of full color photos. My digital ARC did not include anything other than four photos, but hopefully the color photo pages would have some dynamic hawk pictures.
Looking for a good book? The Hawk’s Way by Sy Montgomery continues Montgomery’s tradition of writing passionately about creatures in our natural world. It is a quick and interesting read, but those looking for a much more in-depth look at hawks and hawk handling may be disappointed.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Hawk’s Way
author: Sy Montgomery
series: The Hummingbird’s Gift #2
publisher: Atria Books
hardcover, 96 pages