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Raptor: A Journey Through Birds

UK Publisher: Fourth Estate, Harper Collins
US Publisher: Chicago University Press

Raptor: A Journey Through Birds is a story of how raptors and the landscapes they live in have possessed the author. This book takes a bird of prey and, chapter by chapter, looks at the biology and history of the bird as well as their relationship to man, allowing Macdonald to also look at the history, ecology and geology of the land. The highlight though is his special relationship with the birds themselves and his desire to look at life from their perspective. This is a book that is careful, considered, intimate, anchored to the land and yet constantly craning its’ neck to the sky for birds.

“My eyes are always quivering for birds of prey. I have always been turned to their presence.”

 This is also a book about one of the most important but largely forgotten naturalists of our time, William MacGillivray. MacGillivray helped Audubon to write the five volumes Ornithological Biography, which is the accompanying text to Audubon’s illustrated, The Birds of America, one of the great founding works of American ornithology.

Macdonald’s great grandfather was Seton Gordon who took some outstanding photographs of raptors in the 1920’s despite being handicapped with a camera of the time which was the size of the average rucksack. His great grandson follows the fifteen species of British predatory birds with the same dogged determination, from the rugged shores of Orkney Islands through Welsh valleys to the meadows outside his own home.