by Andrew Kelly and Sue Lawson, illustrated by Dean A Jones
Look up! There is wildness in the heart of the city. HIgh on the ledges of the tall buildings, the peregrine falcons come to lay their eggs.
The compelling story of these fierce and beautiful birds.
Format: 260mm x 270mm
Category: Wildlife, habitats, peregrines, city, ecology, nesting
This enthralling story of a pair of peregrine falcons nesting in Collins Street in Melbourne will touch the hearts of all readers, young and old as they see wild animals surviving in the harsh city environment. New words will be learnt, facts about these birds given while a story of the life cycle of these animals will be eagerly absorbed.
It begins with two falcons nesting on a ledge high above Collins Street. The male falcon, the tiercel lands next to the female and hands over his catch, a pigeon which he caught on the wing using his incredible speed, talons and dexterity to grab the prey. The female eagerly pulls apart the flesh and eats. She later lays four eggs in the gravel scrape. These are rolled around under her making sure each stays warm and the tiercel keeps bringing in food he has caught, while at times he takes over the nest duties while she hunts.
After six weeks they begin to hatch, and three small fluffy balls are in the scrape while the fourth egg is rolled to the back. Called eyases, the chicks grow steadily on the diet the tiercel brings in. During the day the pair take turns hunting and keeping them safe, while at night the male watches while the female sits on the chicks. Hunting is lessened as the chicks grow, their fluffy feathers replaced by darker stronger ones. They practise walking up and down the ledge preparing for the day they will leave. Their parents are watchful but bring in less food, forcing the chicks to take to the air. They leave behind the scrape, the fourth egg and feathers and bones regurgitated after their meals.
The precise text brings the life story of these animals to life, introducing words readers may not know, but encouraging them in their use. The story is intertwined with information, told in such a way that it is absorbed without hesitation. It is simply fascinating, telling of how animals survive in what is considered a hostile environment, encouraging children to look out for the peregrine, the largest and strongest of the falcons. Children will scan the skies over their cities to watch for these birds.
At the end of the book is a page of information which adds to the facts already given, along with an outline history about the falcons in Collins Street.
The illustrations are magnificent, drawing the eye in to look closely at their feathers, talons, beaks and plumage. The background of the ledge with its spill of feathers and dung adds a note of admiration for these animals, making the most of a strange, hostile environment for their nest. The almost photographic images will make students gasp as they turn the pages. The picture of the diving tiercel, the city at night, the pair at the scrape, the chicks hatching … all are simply wonderful, giving the reader a very intimate view of the family of falcons. The claustrophobic ledge, the protection of the parents as they watch over their chicks, the final leap to flight, are all given an extra emotional pull through the detailed, close up illustrations. Jones’ obsession with the way pictures tell a story shines through as he depicts falcons here and penguins (2021).
Themes Survival, Peregrine falcons, Raptors, Melbourne, Birds.