‘Providence Raptors’ Available Now

He wasn’t a birder. He didn’t own a fancy camera. But when this graphic designer moved into the sixth floor of a downtown loft and began witnessing the life-and-death dramas happening daily outside his window, he was soon hooked, and an urban wildlife photographer was born. I met with Peter Green last week for an illuminating walk around downtown — I now know how to “read the pigeons” — and to discuss his new book.

Providence Raptors: Documenting the Lives of Urban Birds of Prey, is not only a compilation of beautiful photographs of the peregrines, hawks, and other raptors wheeling above our heads, but it’s also a comprehensive treatise on a topic that barely existed 50 years ago. By the time Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published in 1962, many of these species were hanging on for dear life in their natural habitats, never mind populating city skyscrapers. And yet now we might see an American bald eagle fishing in the Seekonk River!

Green includes fascinating observations on the raptors’ nesting habits, the architecture they prefer, what they will and won’t eat, how they hunt, wildlife rehabilitation, and so forth. I am delighted to say that Mr. Green is also an excellent writer.

We at The Dose have been fans of Green’s blog, Providence Raptors, for years — for one thing he is the “official” banding day photographer at the peregrine falcon nesting box atop the Superman Building, which we cover every year. I tune in daily to stare at the Audubon Society’s live cam feed every spring.

Banding is a perilous venture — all involved wear helmets. But that banding, both here and around the region, has allowed Green to create a genealogical chart of our nesting pairs from 2000 on. Tagging has also helped identify some of our peregrine offspring, now nesting in other locales like Boston.

In addition to the Superman Building, raptors are nesting at the Cranston Street Armory and the State House (the photo of the red-tailed hawk flying right up to the Independent Man is stunning). Raptors have also nested on billboards and smokestacks and fire escapes.

Raptors can also be seen perched around town scouting for food: That barred owl in Burnside Park was looking for rats and the peregrine falcon on the book’s cover is perched on the Biltmore sign.

One of my favorite photos is the Cooper’s hawk who had flown into the Arcade and couldn’t find its way out. (You’ll have to buy the book to find out how that turned out).

Given that our lives may involve a fair amount of sitting around this winter, this book could be just the thing for incipient birders out there. (Gift-giving idea: Buy this book and a pair of binoculars for that restless stir-crazy person on your list. The Governor says we should walk for exercise.)

These fantastic creatures are all around and this book will help you learn where and how to look for them. Or, just keep an eye out for Peter Green and look where he’s looking.

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Go here to order “Providence Raptors” (8″x 8.5″ softcover) for $29.95. Also available at Books on the Square.

See also Amanda Milkovits’ piece in The Boston Globe.

 

 

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