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Conversations with an Eagle: The Story of a Remarkable Relationship

by Brenda Cox

In a way, the title of this book is a misnomer, since most of the conversations author Brenda Cox has in this engaging memoir are with herself. Cox’s life is transformed by her eight-year relationship with Ichabod, a female bald eagle she meets while volunteering at Orphaned Wild Life (OWL), a B.C. wildlife sanctuary. At the time of their meeting, the three-month-old raptor had fallen out of her nest in high winds and suffered a small leg fracture.

Originally from Winnipeg, Cox is a bit of a stranger in a strange land. This vantage point gives her a keen sense of her surroundings – mountains make the prairie girl claustrophobic; the salt-tinged ocean air of the West Coast gives her a thrill – and helps her to interpret the world from the eagle’s perspective. Cox, a loner and a nature lover, has a comfort level with animals that makes it emotionally wrenching when her employers tell her the eagle’s unpredictable behaviour make it unfit for educational purposes and its injury and human “imprinting” make it unfit for release back into the wild.

Cox’s world becomes smaller as she tries to maintain various post-university jobs and look after the rebel raptor. She moves several times and even completes extensive training to become a brakeman and conductor on the Canadian Pacific Railway, all in an attempt to be physically closer to Ichabod. Though her conversations with the eagle consist mostly of gestures and a few commands, Cox’s love for this particular bird of prey is complete and unconditional.

What Cox teaches us – and herself – through her vigilance and detailed descriptions of the difficulties of feeding, training, and cleaning up after an eagle is that, despite the maternal instincts she has toward the bird, it is, at the end of the day, a wild animal. Conversations with an Eagle is a journey of self-discovery and a search for meaning. Simultaneously soaring and heartbreaking, it succeeds on both counts.


Reviewer: Stephen Knight

Publisher: Greystone Books


Price: $22.95

Page Count: 262 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55054-811-5

Released: May

Issue Date: 2002-7

Categories: Memoir & Biography