Bolt from the Blue: Wild Peregrines on the Hunt


192 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88839-434-9
DDC 598.9'6





Photos by Gordon Court
Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



As the Victorians warned us, nature can be “red of tooth and claw.”
Here’s the proof. Peregrines hunt, kill, and eat birds. Lots of birds.
To a considerable extent, this fact has been ignored as society
concentrates on other features of this near-mythical falcon. The
peregrine has been romanticized. Its beauty in coloration and in flight,
its reputation as the fastest creature on earth, and the extreme height
at which it soars all contribute to its glamorized image.

This book confronts head-on the realities of the peregrine’s hunting
strategies: if the falcon is successful, another bird is killed, ripped
apart, and consumed. Exactly how this winged predator accomplishes its
deadly strikes is described by Dick Dekker—who, with great persistence
and personal discomfort, has witnessed first-hand some 2000 peregrine
strikes. He gives information from direct observation of the various
types of strikes, their success rate, the choice of prey, the falcon’s
environment and enemies, and the near-incomprehensible speed and
violence of its hunting style.

Most birders—even the most dedicated—have never seen a peregrine
kill. As the title proclaims, the process is a “bolt from the blue,”
a sudden, powerful attack that comes without warning and is over in a

Dekker writes with passion and the confidence that comes from hundreds
of hours in the field, both in Alberta and in British Columbia. The
fast-paced text is supported with 32 color photographs of the falcon,
its habitat, and its prey (the blood-coated beak is a powerful image).
Dekker revels in descriptive language; he paints with words, bringing
his subject to life. The result is a fascinating work, full of facts and


Dekker, Dick., “Bolt from the Blue: Wild Peregrines on the Hunt,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,