Assume the Stillness of a Tree

tunnicliffeperegrine penguin coversmall tunnicliffe

J.A. Baker spent ten years observing the peregrines along the east coast of England. His obsession yielded a mountain of field notes and this classic study of a most elusive bird. The Peregrine is also one of the most unusual (and memorable) books we have on our shelves. Barry Lopez sums it up perfectly when he wrote that Baker’s book was “one of the most beautifully written, carefully observed, and evocative wildlife accounts I have ever read.”

As you read The Peregrine it’s almost impossible not to slow down, re-read, and copy down passages. Here’s one of our favorites, on the simple art of watching:

“To be recognized and accepted by a peregrine you must wear the same clothes, travel by the same way, perform actions in the same order. Like all birds it fears the unpredictable. Enter and leave the same fields at the same time each day, soothe the hawk from its wildness by a ritual of behavior as invariable as its own. Hood the glare of your eye, hide the white tremor of the hands, shade the stark reflecting face, assume the stillness of a tree.” Advice a young Jane Goodall would appreciate!

also pictured above: Two paintings by C.F. Tunnicliffe, from his book The Peregrine Sketchbook — the subject of one of our earlier posts!

And here’s three more books on the peregrine falcon, from the Land Library’s shelves on raptors:

ratcliffereturn peregrinetreleaven
The Peregrine Falcon by Derek A. Ratcliffe, Return of the Peregrine: A North American Saga of Tenacity and Teamwork by Tom J. Cade & William Burnham, In Pursuit of the Peregrine by R.B. Treleaven


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