It was nice to see this little review this morning as part of a round-up of bird books in the Montreal Gazette:
“Speaking of the vanishing American West and its icons, I was thrilled to see Rachel Dickinson’s Falconer on the Edge (Houghton Mifflin, $25) about Steve Chindgren, a pioneer, a Western mountain man and, most of all, a hardcore falconer.
I once attended a falconry conference in Utah and I will never forget my adventure of running along with Steve full-tilt on frozen mud in a marsh as he chased after his beloved hunting peregrine. He is eccentric, fanatical, obsessive and truly dedicated to the sport of falconry. Not for the faint of heart, though. (to read more click here . . .)
The following is the beginning of a piece by Cat Urbigkit that showed up on Stephen Bodio’s Querencia blog yesterday:
Making headlines across the West of late is a two-page preliminary report issued by a Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist noting that barbed wire fences pose a collision hazard to Greater Sage Grouse. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to meet its court-ordered February deadline to determine if sage grouse should be granted Endangered Species Act protections, so the report will come into play there. Those who oppose livestock grazing on public lands are also latching onto the report as another reason to rid the western range of its agricultural industry, and its associated fences.
But everyone might be reading more into the report than it merits. WG&F biologist Tom Christiansen noted it all began when two separate falconers provided incidental reports that grouse had been injured or killed on the top wire of certain fences located near important grouse areas. The area is just to the southeast of where we ranch, in the border area of Sublette and Sweetwater counties. This area is believed to have one of the largest concentrations of sage grouse on the planet. It’s falconer Steve Chindgren’s stomping grounds (the falconer who is the subject of Rachel Dickinson’s Falconer on the Edge).
According to Christiansen’s report, “One of these falconers subsequently began marking such fences with aluminum beverage cans in a volunteer effort to reduce these mortalities.” (Click here to read the rest of the post . . .)
If you are not familiar with this blog, I urge you to check it out. Several people post regularly including Cat Urbigkit, Matt Mullenix, and Steve Bodio and the topics range from falconry to coursing dogs to natural history.
It’s nerve-wracking to sit through an hour-long interview — you’re sure you sound like an idiot half the time and, because I am who I am, I am sure when pushed to the wall I’m just a blithering idiot. But this interview with Crystal Sarakis on WSKG’s Off the Page went quite well. Made some gaffes but nothing that will make me want to hide my face when someone says they heard the piece. To listen to the interview click here.
Here’s the intro:
Rachel Dickinson’s introduction to the world of falconry was rather abrupt. Her husband, Tim Gallagher, brought home a kestrel one day, a young bird that had been brought in to the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell. That one bird rekindled an old passion for Tim, and thrust Rachel into a world completely foreign to her.
In order to better understand this new world, Dickinson set out to try to gain an understanding of the world of falconry by following one of the sport’s most intense and legendary figures – Steve Chindgren. Her book, “Falconer on the Edge: A Man, His Birds, and the Vanishing Landscape” is the result of that journey. The book is a captivating profile of a very complex individual who has sacrificed a great deal for the birds and the sport that he loves, and a fascinating look at hunting with falcons.”
Very nice hour-long interview with KUER’s Radio West in Salt Lake City. Steve brought his gyr-peregrine hybrid Jomo into the studio and he chups and talks throughout, which is a neat sound effect. The production staff was enthralled with Jomo and took a number of photos that ended up as a slide show on the home page of the website. Here’s the promo teaser:
“Wednesday on RadioWest we’re profiling one of America’s greatest falconers, Steve Chindgren. Chindgren spends 6 months a year practicing his ancient sport on the sage prairies of Wyoming. Biographer Rachel Dickinson says it’s not just about one man’s passion though. Steve Chindgren hunts grouse with his hawks – and changes brought on by the mining and the energy industries could have a dire effect on them all. Chindgren and Dickinson join Doug to talk about the new book “Falconer on the Edge.”
Click here to listen to the show . . .
Steve and Jomo in Wyoming, January 2007.
Falconer on the Edge: A Man, his Birds, and the Vanishing Landscape of the American West
It’s a funny thing to hold a book you’ve written in your hands for the first time. You examine the cover closely and feel the heft of the book. As you open it and you smell that new book smell, you start to wonder about typos and grammatical errors and all the things that can slip past the many sets of eyes that look at your manuscript as it goes through the editing process. And then, as you read a chapter or two, you can’t help but think — Did I write that?
And you try to imagine where it will sit on the shelf in the bookstore — what books will it sit next to — and you hope that the spine and title will make people want to pull it out from between the books.
Today Steve Chindgren had another falcon killed by a golden eagle while hunting sage grouse in Wyoming. Steve flew Tava for eight seasons. Tava was having a great year and had just knocked his 22nd grouse of the season out of the sky after going up a thousand feet. The eagle killed the falcon while he was dispatching the grouse.
Steve with Tava (photo by Gary Boberg)
Book cover art is a tricky thing. You want it to be beautiful and show up well on the shelf or the table in the bookstore. You want it to be compelling enough so someone will just have to pick it up and poke through the book. I think Houghton did a nice job on this cover. Unfortuantely the photo is of a prairie falcon and not a gyr-peregrine hybrid but I like the look of the bird and where it’s placed on the cover so I’ll forgive them the species swap.