The Hawk’s Way Reviews

By Sy Montgomery
Atria Books (May 3, 2022), 9781668001967

Watch Sy flying a hawk here.

With flowing, intimate, occasionally humorous prose… Montgomery reveals the uniqueness of falconry and the birds it involves. The result is a heartfelt and informative primer, just right for adventure- and animal-loving readers. —Publishers Weekly

Montgomery hooks readers with a striking opening line… Montgomery offers a good amount of stimulating information about raptor behavior, a primer on the language of falconry, and some surprising insights into what is thought to be a hawk’s mindset.—Kirkus Reviews

In the radiant The Hawk’s Way … Montgomery delivers a snappy survey of the history of falconry, with its specific equipment and terminology…. She passionately conveys the thrill of connection with ‘a mind wholly unlike my own…. Collapsing the distance between birds and people, this concise and charming book feels custom-made for readers of Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk. Shelf Awareness, starred review

Montgomery famously loves all animals, but she is especially in awe of birds.  Like The
Hummingbird’s Gift (2021), this is a succinct, intimate, and captivating chronicle graced with color photographs, but here she focus on a very different bird-human relationship, the ancient bond between hawk and falconer. Raptors remain inexorably wild, Montgomery reports, no matter how close a hawk and handler become. “If you do everything right, a hawk will allow you to act as its servant. And for this, the falconer is profoundly grateful.” Hawks are vigilant, easily angered, and dangerous. They are also, Montgomery rhapsodizes: “Magnificent, graceful, strong, big, brave, and smart.” Montgomery recounts her lessons with falconer Nancy Cowan, describing gear, techniques, and the experience of having a hawk fly straight at you, land on your arm, and grip you hard with its sharp talons, its lacerating beak inches from one’s face. Hawks have the sharpest vision on the planet; “the tigers of the air, they hunt like no other predator.” Montgomery’s rapture in the presence of hawks and their “fierce, wild glory” is gorgeously illuminating and deeply affecting.
— Donna Seaman, Booklist

The world is filled with delightful and amazing creatures, and it is always worth our time to indulge in a deep dive into one specific animal and its relationship to both nature and humanity. Montgomery is a naturalist with a deep passion for hawks, and this captivating read is an ode to the complexities, mysteries, and joys of these fierce, capable predators. With incredible enthusiasm and energetic prose, Montgomery reveals what it’s like to be a hunting partner with a hawk and educates on all things hawk, a bird with a clear relationship to its dinosaur ancestors.  –BookBub, The Best Nonfiction Books of Spring

Delightful reading for those who can put the binoculars down for an evening or two.
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