Wings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney Rock

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Wings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney Rock
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Wings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney Rock
Gulliford, Andrew
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Wings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney Rock | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/7/2015 3:38:09 PM] Home Wings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney RockWings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney RockSubmitted by nwharton on 3-20-2014 10:14 AMAuthor: Marcy Cottrell Houle Publishing: Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014. Reviewer: Andrew Gulliford Reviewer Affiliation: Fort Lewis College Originally published in hardcover in 1991, Wings for My Flight chronicles the adventures and misadventures of a young female biologist stationed atop Chimney Rock between Bayfield and Pagosa Springs, Colorado, as she and her companion gather data on nesting peregrine falcons. Her research covered the summer seasons of 1975 to 1978, though the book more closely describes her first season atop the ridge when the U.S. Forest Service road was new and rutted, and local animosity against environmentalism in general and peregrines in particular was acute. Those were the pre-feminist days of a male-dominated San Juan National Forest and when the U. S. Forest Service itself was more interested in timber sales and tourism than in natural or cultural resource protection. Some of the biases in the book may have been real or they may derive from false hindsight, but in 1975 perhaps the district forest ranger really did think that a young female college graduate could get lost or hurt atop Chimney Rock. If so, he was rightabout her getting hurt. Where he was wrong was in miscalculating Marcy Cottrell Houles spunk and perseverance and her scientific dedication to an endangered species. The peregrines utilized a nesting area, called a scrape, that they may have used for centuries. Peregrines were probably there in 1076 when Ancestral Puebloans built a Great House. If the nesting site was old, the threats to peregrines were new based on pesticides and DDT use resulting in thin-shelled eggs. In 1973 the U.S. Congress passed the Endangered Species Act to protect American flora and fauna. Two years later, when Houle began her research, only seven pairs of wild peregrines remained in all of Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. Peregrine field studies were just being undertaken to save the species and to understand its habitat needs. Local misunderstanding and resentment bubbled up against the government and environmentalism in general. In the summer of 1975 the female peregrine, of a monogamous pair because peregrines mate for life, was shot dead. Questions arose as to whether the young nestlings would survive and whether Houles work could be completed. Even her dilapidated USFS trailer was vandalized. Having hiked Chimney Rock during various seasons and at night for full moon programs, I appreciate that the author takes us back to when that magnificent setting was threatened both by coal mine development and tourism of the Ancestral Puebloan site on the ridgeline. Houle writes that development plans even included an inclined tram from U.S. Highway 160 to the Chimney Rock ridge. EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanIn 1893, Colorado became the first state in the union to allow women the right to vote through popular election.


Wings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney Rock | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/7/2015 3:38:09 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us Houle is naive as a young field biologist fresh from finishing her college degree, but she has excellent mentors and a firm sense of purpose. The reader learns about a young womans time alone in wilderness settings, and Wings for My Flight explains the urgent need for wild animals to have suitable habitat. Houle explains everything about peregrine mating, nesting, and how a peregrine pair raises young birds. To be hacked as a raptor is to be returned to the wild to eyries where these birds live on some of the most remote and precipitous cliffs in the American West. The reader leans about captive breeding programs, nest augmentation, and reverse-sized dimorphism, and the fact that the male peregrine or tiercel is smaller than the female. Peregrines, the fastest animal in North America, exceeding 200 mph, can spot small prey at a distance of two miles. They fly, swoop, spin, pirouette, and make specific sounds as they hunt and defend their territory. Houle offers: There is a special quality about peregrinesa look in the eye, a kind of aristocratic stance, a fine-detailing of plumagethat according to falconers, makes them stand out as the champions of the bird world.(19) Written with an abiding sense of place and a deep passion for raptors, Houle admits that to study ecology means to feel despair, but it is also to know the beauty and intricacy of life and to feel hope.(139) Indeed, peregrines have made a comeback. Against all odds the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Team brought the birds back from the brink of extinction. Chimney Rock is now protected thanks to President Obamas declaration of the 4,726-acre Chimney Rock Archaeological Area as a new USFS national monument. For that we owe the peregrines, because without them inappropriate development may have occurred. And without Marcy Cotrell Houle we never would have known what we almost lost. I highly recommend this book for readers interested in our area, in the Southwest, in raptors, in nature writing, and in essential eco-advocacy. The book would also work well in high school classes and serve as an inspiration for young female ecologists interested in fieldwork. Wings for My Flight is a personal story but also a chronicle of environmental success. Without a doubt, peregrines saved Chimney Rock for the rest of us. Reviewer Info: Andrew Gulliford is a professor of history and environmental studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He teaches courses in wilderness and environmental history and is the author of Americas Country Schools, Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions and Boomtown Blues: Colorado Oil Shale which won the Colorado Book Award. He also edited Preserving Western History and his edited new book is Outdoors in the Southwest: An Adventure Anthology He writes columns for the Durango Herald Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Utah Adventure Journal, and High Country News Gulliford has had led tours across the West by canoe, raft, horseback, van, cruise ship, private train, and private jet for the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Society, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and History Colorado.