The hero and heroine fall in love whilst working with birds of prey in romantic comedy novel Little Teashop of Horrors, one of two books by Jane Lovering, both published by Choc Lit, shortlisted for the RNA's 2018 Romantic Novel Awards. The other is Christmas at the Little Village School, which won the RoNA Rose Award for shorter romantic novels. Here she shares:
THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT BIRDS OF PREY
Birds of prey are, unlike you or me, extremely well-designed killers. Actually I can only speak for myself there, you might be a serial murderer but, even if you are, I expect you have to use tools. Birds of prey, generally, can kill with their bare hands. And their noses. If you are a serial killer who kills with your bare hands and your nose – I think there might be a CSI episode somewhere with your name on.
Owls can turn their heads 270 degrees. NOT right round. If you think about it, it’s impossible to turn your head right round, it would unscrew and fall off. But 270 degrees gives a pretty impressive field of vision. I bet owls would be ace at reversing a car, what with being able to see over both shoulders practically all the way to their shoulder blades. Not that they have shoulder blades, but you get the picture.
Owls again. Their faces are that shape to help with their hearing. The ‘inward dish’ of their faces help to funnel sound so they can detect very faint noises. Which is odd because my face is as far away from a dish shape as possible, I should be functionally deaf, but I can hear someone trying to raid my stash of HobNobs from a hundred yards. But maybe owls just aren’t into HobNobs…
With birds of prey, usually, the bigger the feet and stronger the legs, the bigger the prey they are adapted to eat. So, for example, kites, which mostly eat carrion and insects, have quite small feet for the size of bird they are (and they are pretty big, when you see fifteen of them coming at you out of the sun, you tend to duck) and weak legs. So, you don’t really need to worry about kites eating your ears off. Eagles, on the other hand, have huge feet. They’ll have your nose soon as look at you. Well, maybe not, but if you’re a rabbit then you should be worried. Very worried, because, as a rabbit who can read this stuff, scientists are looking for you.
Kestrels (in fact, probably all birds of prey, but we definitely know kestrels can do it) can see ultra violet, which enables them to follow urine trails. Small rodents are basically walking wee, so they leave a track which the kestrel then follows. Very much like the mother of a potty training toddler, they follow the urine path all the way back to the originator, where they kill and eat it. Instead of just shoving the potty at it and brandishing a J cloth.
Birds of prey don't seem very likely catalysts for romance, what with eating dead things and (in the case of owls) basically coughing up the remains. It's a bit like falling in love at the behest of Hannibal Lecter. But there's something about their freedom to fly and hunt and stalk the skies that inspires romance, and romantic feelings for the person who flies them and loves these magnificent creatures!