Raptors: Portraits of Birds of Prey

Image of Raptors: Portraits of Birds of Prey (Bird Photography Book)
Release Date: 
September 18, 2017
Princeton Architectural Press (Adult)
Reviewed by: 

“an excellent reference for bird lovers.”

Raptors: Portraits of Birds of Prey is filled with remarkable images of birds that against all expectations were photographed in the studio rather than in the wild. The result of photographing in the studio is a much more intimate portrayal of birds that are uniquely intelligent, fierce, and graceful.

Traer Scott photographed hawks, falcons, eagles, owls, vultures, and many other birds, each raptor displaying their own penchant for a pose that exemplifies their species. And her wonderfully lucid and articulate introduction, full of anecdotes and useful information, enhances our knowledge of raptors and birds in general, and is a pleasure to read.

For instance, raptors come in all sizes from the 10-inch screech owl to the 7-foot wingspan bald eagle. They are predatory birds that hunt and eat meat, and the Latin root word rapere, means to snatch, grab, or take away. Raptors have a keen sense of sight, sharp talons, and hooked beaks designed for tearing.

Although the photographer/author did a curious thing by choosing to photograph many of the birds against backgrounds that are a similar color to the birds (i.e., a snow white barn owl against a white background, and the dark winged golden eagle against black), where the bird seems to blend and disappear into their surroundings; the quality of the images captured are extraordinary. Of special note are the images of the red-tailed hawk and the bald eagle.

Either the photographer was extremely skilled at prompting the birds to react or the bald eagle was actually showing off its impressive ferociousness in some of the poses that were struck. And let’s not leave out the adorable baby raptors: owls, vultures, and tiny screech-owl chicks. They command an audience of their own.

Although Scott’s photographs do not have the panache of National Geographic environmental photos they are remarkable in their own right, capturing a facet of the raptors that could only come to light in a studio and being surrounded by people.

Traer Scott’s Raptors, Portraits of Birds of Prey is an 8.5 x 9 inch book that is beautifully printed and features 70 full-color photographs, each with an insightful caption. This book is an excellent reference for bird lovers.