Publisher: Snowfinch Publishing, 2022.
Condition: New / New.
'Short listed for the TWS authored book of the year 2023'
The Peregrine Falcon' is a comprehensive 528-page book on this most iconic raptor which is richly illustrated with 150 color images and 235 figures, aimed at bringing our scientific knowledge of the species bang up to date under one cover. The book investigates all aspects of Peregrine life, from plumage, through diet, population dynamics, breeding and survival. Falcons are iconic aerial apex predators sometimes held in mystical regard, occasionally elevated to the status of myth and legend. The book starts with consideration of ancient history of birds when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and traces the relationship of Man and Falcon as seen in painted images from ancient Egypt and stone carvings on abandoned Hittite stone walls. Peregrines breed on all continents apart from Antarctica and the authors have collected data from across that vast range; providing information on each of the 17 subspecies (18 if the Australian F.p. submelanogenys is separate from F.p. macropus, and 19 if the Barbary Falcon is really a Peregrine form), as to diet, distribution and physical characteristics. Modern technology (inertial measurement units built by RS) and analyses of breathing, bone structure and eyesight has been used to study the flights, particularly the stooping hunts which have made Peregrines famous as arguably the fastest creature on the planet. The physics of flight and stooping speed is rigorously assessed using basic scientific principles, and a detailed analysis of eye biology, together with observational empirical evidence, allows the authors to suggest greater Peregrine visual acuity than has previously been claimed by the scientific community.
In the second half of the last century the need to increase food production led to the widescale application of chemicals on farmland. But the chemicals had a disastrous effect on Peregrine Falcons, causing both the breaking of eggshells and the killing of adult birds. Everywhere the chemicals were used the Peregrine population fell sharply. Alerted by both amateur and professional ornithologists to an impending catastrophe, governments banned the chemicals. Slowly the Peregrine population began to rise, in part prompted by the bird's remarkable ability to adapt. In parts of its range the falcon realized that buildings could be utilized as make-shift cliffs for breeding. And where humans congregated, pigeons flourished. That combination of potential breeding sites and high densities of a preferred prey meant an increase in urban living for the resourceful Peregrine, and numbers climbed steadily. The falcons' arrival in town increased human interest. Nest boxes were provided and video cameras were installed to watch Peregrine family life. Added to its fabulous flying abilities and renowned speed, the falcon that had once been seen only by those who sought it out in remote, wild places, has become a star of local CCTV. This book includes data and photographs from several UK nest sites, both urban (a medieval bell tower and a modern, London hospital) and a Scottish wild country eyrie studied in detail in 2022.
See Kate Davis' Book review of The Peregrine Falcon