The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird
By Joshua Hammer. Simon & Schuster, 2020, 324 pp. (I read the Kindle edition.)
People have been raiding birds' nests for centuries: for food, for breeding, for scientific inquiry, for mischief, for profit, and—strangely—for the mysterious allure of the eggs themselves. "I think that if required on pain of death to name instantly the most perfect thing in the universe," said the minister and abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who is quoted in Joshua Hammer's The Falcon Thief, "I should risk my fate on a bird's egg."
Profit would certainly seem to be high on the list of motives for Jeffrey Lendrum, who is the focus of the book, a man who, among various egg thieving acts, steals the eggs of falcons—legally protected birds—to sell for handsome sums in Arab lands where rich clients use them for racing and believe that wild birds are superior to those bred in captivity.
But as Hammer chronicles Lendrum's nest-robbing escapades, starting with his early youth in Rhodesia stealing eggs for his father's collection, he reveals how varied the thief's motives and pleasures are. Read More