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On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falconby Alan Tennant
Synopses & Reviews
In this extraordinary narrative, Alan Tennant, a passionate observer of nature, recounts his all-out effort to radio-track the transcontinental migration of the peregrine falcon — an investigation no one before him had ever taken to such lengths.
On the Wing transports us from the windswept flats of the Texas barrier islands — where the tundra falcons pause during their springtime journey north — to the Arctic, and then south, through Mexico, Belize, and into the Caribbean, in a hilariously picaresque and bumpy flight. At the helm is Tennant's partner in falcon-chasing, George Vose, a septuagenarian World War II vet who trusts his instincts as much as his instruments. As the two men nearly lose their lives and run afoul of the law in the race to keep their birds in view and their rattletrap Cessna gassed up and running, Tennant renders with gorgeous precision and skill the landscape and wildlife they pass on the way and the falcons that direct their course.
On the Wing is a breath-taking encounter with these majestic birds — the icons of pharaohs, Oriental emperors, and European nobility — whose fierce mien, power, and swiftness have fired the human imagination for centuries. An unforgettable and mesmerizing tale that speaks to all our dreams of flight.
"Naturalist Tennant (The Guadalupe Mountains of Texas) describes his efforts to trail peregrine falcons on their epic migratory flights from the Caribbean to the Arctic in a detailed, impassioned account that's part nature study and part gonzo travelogue. After radio-tagging a young peregrine off the coast of Texas, Tennant teams up with George Vose, a former WWII combat flight instructor, to follow the bird on its spring migration north. Plenty of excitement — run-ins with Canadian Mounties, trouble with Vose's battered plane — follows as the men track their 'guiding angel,' the bird they name Amelia. After a trip to the peregrine's Alaskan breeding grounds, Tennant and Vose follow three new peregrines on the fall migration down the coast of Mexico and Central America, where their adventures include going into a free-fall over the Caribbean Ocean and being mistaken for DEA agents. Tennant pauses to consider nearly every creature he encounters along the way, from polar bear to insect, describing its connection to the land, and, in the inevitable bittersweet turn, revealing the environmental degradation that threatens its survival. With a nature-lover's deep concern rather than an ideologue's rhetoric, Tennant emphasizes the connection between man and beast, reflecting as well on his own need for migration and adventure. 8-page color insert not seen by PW. Agent, David McCormick. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A real roller-coaster ride, Tennant's dramatic paean to peregrines and riveting chronicle of one of the wildest wildlife studies ever conducted is powerful testimony to the need to respect and protect every aspect of life on earth." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Read this book for a deeper appreciation of this majestic bird; read it to become indeed 'part of the continent's ancient river of migration.' Highly recommended." Library Journal
"A naturalist's intrepid quest to track the movements of a peregrine falcon to its summer and winter grounds, fueled by hungry curiosity and a rickety old Cessna....Tennant keeps both the excitement and the natural history flowing freely and breezily." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]n honest book like On the Wing reveals the true nature of our planet. Tennant's parable encourages us to find the strength and courage to place ourselves in the context of the world as it really is." Homer Hickam, The New York Times Book Review
In this extraordinary narrative, a passionate observer of nature recounts his all-out effort to radio-track the transcontinental migration of the peregrine falcon — an investigation no one before him had ever taken to such lengths.
About the Author
Alan Tennant is the author of numerous books on wildlife and nature, including The Guadalupe Mountains of Texas, which won the Southern Book Award, Western Books Award, and a best nonfiction award from the Texas Institute of Letters. He currently lives in West Texas and conducts natural history trips around the world.
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Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Birds » Birdwatching