H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
Don’t let the primer title fool you. This is really well-written, and it will stay with you for a long time. It is one of those books that are worthy of being in your home library. Here are some passages:
I sat down, tired and content. The goshawks were gone, the sky blank. Time passed. The wavelength of light around me shortened. The day built itself. A sparrowhawk, light as a toy of balsa-wood and doped tissue-paper, zipped past at knee-level, kiting up over a bank of brambles and away into the trees. I watched it go, lost in recollection. This memory was candescent, irresistible.
She disappeared over a hedge slant-wise into nothing. It was as if she’d found a rent in the damp Gloucestershire air and slipped through it. That was the moment I kept replaying, over and over. That was the recurring dream. From then on, the hawk was inevitable.
What is she looking at? What is she thinking? I hear the click of the nictitating membrane that crosses her eyes as she blinks, and now I see them closely her eyes begin to disturb me. They look like discs of pale paper stuck to the side of her head, each with a hole-punched black pupil housed under a transparent dome like a bubble of water. The hawk is stranger than I’d thought.
And wisdom from a fellow falconer:
‘It’s simple. If you want a well-behaved goshawk, you just have to do one thing. Give ’em the opportunity to kill things. Kill as much as possible. Murder sorts them out.’
There is a hawk that has been breakfasting upon the birds that throng in our backyard. I’ve come to terms with it. It is a beautiful bird.