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A Hope for Wings: Musings of a Raptor Hacker and Tales of Bird of Prey Recovery Review by Renita KuehnerAl Parker
6400 Cutler Lake Road
Blue Rock, Ohio, 43720
Eagles are majestic and amazing birds. Recently, we had the opportunity to review A Hope for Wings: Musings of a Raptor Hacker and Tales of Bird of Prey Recovery by Al Parker. I have genuinely enjoyed reading about one of my favorite birds to spot in the wild.
As many know in the 1960s, it became clear that the Bald Eagle was nearly extinct. Chemicals polluting their food and the plants used to create their nests were killing eagles. They died just from simply eating fish and living. Scientists discovered this and efforts to save our National symbol began. This is a story I knew, but I knew little about the work entailed behind the scenes to help not only save this species but make sure that it thrived in nature.
Al Parker was one of the fortunate ones who was able to sit high in a hack tower and see these majestic birds up close. These raptor hackers learned how to interact with these creatures and teach them to hunt and survive without being noticed. They were able to simulate being mother eagles taking care of eaglets. But there was a routine that each volunteer and hacker needed to make for themselves. Working with raptors can be daunting since they are an extraordinarily strong bird. Mr. Parker was open and honest about the early mornings and the challenging work involved in what I think of as his adventures helping these species.
A Hope for Wings: Musings of a Raptor Hacker and Tales of Bird of Prey Recovery does not just speak of his work with eagles. I will admit though that this is my favorite part of the book. He also spoke about other raptors including eagles and ospreys. This tale would make a fantastic addition to an older student’s bird study unit or animal science study. I found it to be an excellent example for Charlotte Mason style learning. I suggest for older students since it can easily read independently. The real-world information is not just pushing scientific facts but giving them the life experiences of many working with raptors. Younger students may need to use the tale as a read aloud. This book is packed full of pictures and the story of the survival of eagles and other raptors in the United States and how raptor hackers have worked tirelessly to help them.
I appreciate all the work that these raptor hackers are underappreciated for doing. Because of them, our family can now enjoy seeing eagles in our area regularly. Over the past ten years, we have gone from an occasional sighting to seeing eagles a few times a week. I still hold my breath and yell to the kids that an eagle is flying over us. We have trekked more than an hour from our home to see an eagle’s nest in a nature preserve to see them feed their eaglets. Without the work and sacrifice of scientists and volunteers like Al Parker and Kim Berkley (just to name a few), we would not have these opportunities. We thank them.
-Product review by Renita Kuehner, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2020