A Most Remarkable Creature
The Hidden Life of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey
An enthralling account of a modern voyage of discovery as we meet the clever, social birds of prey called caracaras, which puzzled Darwin, fascinate modern-day falconers, and carry secrets of our planet's deep past in their family history.
"Deftly intertwine[s] natural history and human history, with insights and lessons that go far beyond the subject birds."--David Sibley, author of What It's Like to Be a Bird
"Utterly captivating and beautifully written, this book is a hugely entertaining and enlightening exploration of a bird so wickedly smart, curious, and social, it boggles the mind."--Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Bird Way
In 1833, Charles Darwin was astonished by an animal he met in the Falkland Islands: handsome, social, and oddly crow-like falcons that were "tame and inquisitive . . . quarrelsome and passionate," and so insatiably curious that they stole hats, compasses, and other valuables from the crew of the Beagle. Darwin wondered why these birds were confined to remote islands at the tip of South America, sensing a larger story, but he set this mystery aside and never returned to it.
Almost two hundred years later, Jonathan Meiburg takes up this chase. He takes us through South America, from the fog-bound coasts of Tierra del Fuego to the tropical forests of Guyana, in search of these birds: striated caracaras, which still exist, though they're very rare. He reveals the wild, fascinating story of their history, origins, and possible futures. And along the way, he draws us into the life and work of William Henry Hudson, the Victorian writer and naturalist who championed caracaras as an unsung wonder of the natural world, and to falconry parks in the English countryside, where captive caracaras perform incredible feats of memory and problem-solving. A Most Remarkable Creature is a hybrid of science writing, travelogue, and biography, as generous and accessible as it is sophisticated, and absolutely riveting.
About this Author
In 1997, Jonathan Meiburg received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to travel to remote communities around the world, a year-long journey that sparked his enduring fascination with islands, birds, and the deep history of the living world. Since then, he's written reviews, features, and interviews for print and online publications including The Believer, The Talkhouse, and The Appendix on subjects ranging from a hidden exhibit hall at the American Museum of Natural History to the last long-form interview with author Peter Matthiessen. But he's best known as the leader of the band Shearwater, whose albums and performances have often been praised by NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian, and Pitchfork. He lives in central Texas.
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