Joe Franke

Joe Franke

Education

B.A., The Evergreen State College, 1985
M.S., Environmental Studies, University of Oregon, 1995

Biographical Note

I graduated in 1985, and have published several books, including Costa Rica's Parks and Preserves: A Visitor's Guide, published by Mountaineers Books in Seattle. For the past several years, I've been working as a consultant on wildlife trade issues for the World Wildlife Fund and the Humane Society of the U.S. I'm also in the process of starting a small publishing outfit, called Bradford Street Press, which will publish primarily natural history and medicine-related books.

Publication Types

Non-Fiction, Scholastic, Journalism

Publications

Books

Costa Rica's National Parks and Preserves: A Visitor's Guide, Mountaineers Books, (First Edition 1993, Second Edition 1999, Third Edition 2008)

 "Assessment of the Harvest, Farming and Trade of Freshwater Turtles Native to the United States," Conservation International. In Press.

The Invasive Species Cookbook, Bradford Street Press 2006. 

Bites and Stings of Venomous Animals: Identification and Treatment. Bradford Street Press, Summer 2007

Selected Articles

"Rattlesnake Roundups: Uncontrolled Wildlife Exploitation and the Rites of Spring," Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science,Volume 3, Number 2, April 2000.

"NI Interview: Robert Bropho," New Internationalist, May 1997

"Faith in the Forest," New Internationalist, May 1996

"Sounds Boring: Termite Dinner Music. The Natural History of the Didgeridoo," Rhythm Music, May 1997

"The Tiger In the Forest," Shambala Sun,November 1995.

"Reptiles in Arnhem Land Aboriginal Rock Art," Reptile and Amphibian, August 1997

"Faith and Martyrdom in the Forest," The Witness, March 9 2005

"Pigeon Blood Rubies," Birdscapes Magazine, Winter 2004

"The Appetite of Birds: The Conundrum of the First Precept, Invasive Species, and the Conservation of the Native," Tricycle Magazine, June 2003

"Rattlesnake Roundups: Uncontrolled Wildlife Exploitation and the Rites of Spring," Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Volume 3, Number 2, April 2000

"NI Interview: Robert Bropho," New Internationalist, May 1997 

Publication Excerpt

"Pigeon Blood Rubies" by Joe Franke Originally published in Naturescapes, a Fish and Wildlife Service publication:

It's a hot July afternoon, and I'm stepping out of the subway onto a Boston street. Then, within the soft focus of my peripheral vision,  something streaks across the rooftop horizon. Pigeons on a ledge begin to scatter. A male red-tailed hawk has a hard bead on one of the birds and strikes it before it can fully spread its wings. The smaller bird struggles until a well-placed bite to the head stills the unfortunate creature. With prey firmly grasped, the hawk makes a casual hop to the top of a lamppost to begin its meal. Within seconds, a group of crows assembles on the rooftop across the street, broadcasting frantic alarm calls as if the end of the corvid universe was at hand.

Only a portly, middle-aged man and I gape at the spectacle. The hawk, oblivious to the traffic noises below, rips the feathers off its prey, releasing a gentle swirl like falling snow over the passersby, all of whom remain unaware of the drama occurring a mere 15 feet above their heads. My newfound companion and I are transfixed.

A shining black Lexus, looking freshly hand-detailed from the carwash, parks directly below the red-tail¹s ongoing repast. The driver exits the vehicle, engaging the lock and alarm. Eyeing the two of us with suspicion, he fails to notice the feathers drifting by his head. As he passes, we stare blankly forward into space, so as not to warn him of the coming defilement to his pride-and-joy. It's as if we're documentary filmmakers on the Serengeti, unwilling to intervene on the part of an unsuspecting impala being stalked by a lion, lest we interrupt an unfolding natural drama.

Soon bits of guts, pigeon-crop contents, and other assorted bloody offal begin falling gently onto the car's roof and windshield. Eventually, my coconspirator grows distracted and wanders off, as do all but two of the crows, which occasionally make tenuous passes at the hawk, trying to disquiet him into leaving. I watch the bird for 20 minutes as it methodically picks apart and consumes its prey, and in that time, not one of perhaps 150 people passing by stop to see what I'm so intently watching overhead.

After finishing its meal, the hawk calmly scrapes its beak against the lamppost, fluffs up its feathers, and with a look that I can only interpret as contentment, raises its tail and excretes copiously the metabolized remainder of pigeons past, which lands with a soft plop onto the glass moon roof of the shiny car. After a few minutes to let its meal settle, the red-tail departs with the crows following at a respectful distance.

I contemplate the remains of the hawk’s meal and droplets of blood haphazardly displayed on the Lexus. I recall a type of precious stone found in Southeast Asia called a pigeon blood ruby and try to envision its color, a hue of fading life energy.

Such a heavy price we pay for our lack of awareness. We pass over moments such as these like jewels in the gutter—unacknowledged as they vanish ineluctably down the storm drain of time passing.