The art of falconry has spanned continents and millennia, and has fascinated kings and common man alike. In his latest book, “Falcon Fever”, Tim Gallagher of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology explores the little-known subculture of falconry in a book that is an amalgam of memoir, history and travelogue, including the story of how falconry may have saved his life. WSKG’s Crystal Sarakas hosts this edition of Off the Page.
Tim Gallagher is an award-winning author, wildlife photographer and magazine editor. He is currently editor-in-chief of Living Bird, the flagship publication of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Tim got his first field guide at the age of eight, and he’s been watching birds ever since. He is especially interested in birds of prey. In the 1970s, he worked with the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group – an affiliate of the Peregrine Fund – helping their efforts to save the peregrine falcon and other threatened species. He has traveled twice to Greenland, where he made an open-boat voyage up the coast to study nesting seabirds and falcons, and to the hinterlands of Iceland, where he climbed cliffs to learn more about the gyrfalcon, the world’s largest falcon.
Gallagher also spent several years traveling across the South, interviewing people who claimed to have seen the legendary Ivory-billed woodpecker, which most scientists believed had been extinct for 60 years. On one of these trips, he and his colleague, Bobby Harrison, would have a close-up, unmistakable view of this legendary bird. This sighting – the first time since 1944 that two qualified observers had positively identified an ivory-billed woodpecker in the United States – led to the largest search ever launched to find a rare bird and ultimately to the announcement on April 28, 2005, of the rediscovery of the species. His book, The Grail Bird, is about that experience. He appeared on Off the Page in July 2005 to speak with Bill Jaker about that book. He appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation in 2005 to discuss the book as well.