John Lane, an English and environmental studies professor at Wofford University, observed the red-shoulder hawks in his neighborhood for many years. After he read “The Peregrine” by J.A. Baker, he decided to follow them, and his book, “Neighborhood Hawks: A Year Following Wild Birds,” was written.
To make sure he put his best effort into following the hawks, Lane made a rule for himself: Anytime Lane heard or saw a Red-shouldered hawk, he would drop everything he was doing to follow them. Luckily the birds nested in his neighborhood and don’t migrate, so he was never more than a half-mile from his house.
Since Lane is a full-time professor, this policy occasionally interfered with his life. There were times when he heard the hawks and knew he had class in an hour and had to scramble to get there on time.
Lane teaches his students that when they’re writing there’s always an apparent subject as well as a deeper subject. For Lane, the apparent subject became the hawks but the deeper subject became how to teach himself to “really pay attention.”
“There were surprises every time I went out. I had to learn something. I’d see something I’d never seen before,” Lane said. “[It was a] truly powerful experiment.”
Lane noticed where the hawks preferred to spend time and the rhythm to which the birds moved. While he stalked the hawks, Lane also observed some of the black turkey vultures in his neighborhood which also make several appearances in the book. However, he chose to name his book after the hawks because he’d watched them for many years.
Rachel Watkins, director of operations and director of events at Avid Bookshop, said UGA Press’ has a “stellar reputation” gives its authors a “stamp of approval” when the bookshop chooses authors for its events.
Watkins said she loves to hear authors read “their work in their own words, their own tone of voice” because it’s really “powerful” and people don’t get to listen to stories as often as they age.
After the reading, there will be a Q&A and book signing where attendees will get the chance to talk to Lane and Hale about the book “which is quite thrilling for a lot of people,” Watkins said.