Michael Adler, Meg Bonahoom, Wolf Brueggemann, Colorado Hawking Club,
Lawrence Crowley, Doug Doty, Jim Enderson, Juanita Harvey, Don Hayden, Kim
Jagger, Justin Lilly, Steve Long, Laura Magelssen, Keith Moffett, Mario Nickerson,
Wayne and Pat Pennington, Anne Price, Ray Rickard, Russel Rickard, Clee and
Mary Sealing, Craig Shanholtzer, SSNAKE, Jim Williams, Mark Wolters
Gordon L. Grenfell
Golden, Colorado
May, 1949-November, 2009
— by Wayne F. Pennington
Gordon became involved in Falconry at 8 years
of age. Like most of us it was with a Kestrel. Why
he became involved we never discussed in the 38
years that I have known Gordon. I suppose like
most of us, it was after watching a Disney movie.
Gordon loved to blind trap and I always felt
pity for any pigeon that refused to try and y. It
was rare for Gordon to trap any other way. Gor-
don would search for a Goshawk nest every year.
I spent several nights with him in the high coun-
try around a roaring campre at night. We talked
about birds in the past and thought about what
birds we would y in the future.
Gordon was the owner-operator of Falconhead
Press, which sold new, used and reprinted falcon-
ry books. Falconhead Press evolved into Falcon-
head Mailing Service in Golden, Colorado.
He reprinted several of the old classic falconry
books in collaboration with Barrie Watson, which
included Falconry: Its Claims, History, and Prac-
tice by G.E. Freeman and F.H. Salvin and Remi-
niscences of a Falconer by C.H. Fisher. He also
compiled into book form, in collaboration with Bar-
rie Watson, the American Falconers Club Jour-
nals 1941-1961. In 1974 he revised the journals
by adding an index. Barrie recently told me he and
Gordon worked 18 hours a day for 9 days just on
the index. Gordon once told me the printing of the
journals was his greatest accomplishment at that
time. The journals have become very rare and
there will most likely never be another reprint.
Gordon loved small falcons and hawks. He
loved to lure y small falcons and was very pro-
cient with a lure. He loved Accipiters but the Per-
egrine was special to him as with us all. Gordon
supported the recovery of the Peregrine from the
very beginning. He was also a supporter of the
North American Falconers Association over the
When the Peregrine was delisted as an endan-
gered species, Gordon decided to run for Presi-
dent of the Colorado Hawking Club so he could
be involved with getting a legal take of eyass Ana-
tum Peregrines to be used in the art of falconry by
Colorado falconers.
Gordon, along with other ofcers of the Colora-
do Hawking Club, spent hundreds of hours writing
emails making phone calls, talking to members
of the Colorado Wildlife Commission and anyone
else they could talk to and who would listen. Com-
missioners were invited to observe falconry or
just to watch the falcons y to the balloon or lure.
Gordon would spend several late nights send-
ing emails to every person who he thought would
help. His phone bills had to be outrageous with all
the long distance calls he made to the USFWS in
Washington D.C., NAFA ofcers and NAFA Attor-
ney Frank Bond.
Gordon spent hundreds of hours walking the
halls of the Capitol building in Denver, Colorado.
He would approach State Senators, Congress-
men and State Legislators explaining the biology,
decline and the recovery of the Peregrine Falcon.
He explained how Falconers gave up their own
Peregrine Falcons and millions of dollars in do-
nations to the Peregrine breeders in the United
States. He explained how breeders spent thou-
sands of dollars of their own money to breed and
release captive-bred Peregrines to the wild; how
falconers pioneered cross-fostering the Peregrine
with Prairie Falcons in wild eyries; how falconers
were among the rst to come to the rescue of the
Peregrine Falcon. He spent so much time at the
Capitol Building he nally became a Registered
Gordon didn’t stop with just the Peregrine; he
formed the Caretakers of Wild Raptors. He worked
with the BLM and Forestry Service to allow mem-
bers to set up nesting platforms for Ferruginous
Hawks on the Comanche Grasslands in Southern
Colorado, which are being used by Ferruginous
Hawks while raising their young.
The last time I spoke with Gordon he told me
he had 3 outstanding accomplishments in his life:
Spencer, his son - when he spoke of Spencer his
eyes would light up; his involvement in a legal take
of wild bred Peregrine Falcons; and The American
Falconers Club Journals that he compiled into a
single book form.
In 1996 Greg Hayes was looking for a
Goshawk nest. He asked Gordon if he would
check one area while he checked another.
Gordon called me and asked if I would be in-
terested in taking a “two hour hike”. Being ad-
dicted to Goshawks for 30 years I was ready
to go. We met Greg in the mountains North of
Golden. Greg explained to Gordon what he
had in mind was to hike along this creek to the
road that lead into Golden Gate Park and Greg
would pick us up in the park. Gordon said he
knew the road. This two hour hike ended up
taking eighteen hours.
Gordon, his son Spencer, who was 12 at the
time, and I started down the game trail look-
ing into the aspens for any signs of Goshawks.
After hiking a couple hours I asked Gordon
where the road was and Gordon said he wasn’t
real sure but it had to be close. As we walked it
started getting late and I asked Gordon again
where this road was. ”Around the next bend”
was the answer. Spencer was carrying my
camera when we crossed a creek Spencer
slipped on a moss-covered rock and went un-
der. Needless to say the camera was ruined
and Spencer was soaked to the bone.
We were walking in the dark trying to feel
our way along the creek. At midnight I tripped
and fell and told Gordon we were not going any
farther that night. Gordon said we would freeze
to death without a re and it had rained that day
so everything was soaked. I ended up taking
my shirt and ripping it up to get a re to start.
We sat around that small re talking for a while
then tried to sleep. Each time we started to
doze, the re would die down to just hot coals.
We would start to shiver and race to nd some-
thing dry to burn. The next morning we walked
around the curve of the creek to nd a waterfall
30 feet high and 30 feet wide. If we had walked
into that the night before, we would have all
drowned. We walked another three hours and
nally walked into Ralston Mine. The security
guard told us we were trespassing. I won’t re-
peat what I told the guard.
I wrote an article for American Falconry
magazine, titled “In Search Of Goshawks:
Dedication Or Insanity,” (Vol. 7, June 1997)
in which I described that night in detail. Bill
Burnham of The Peregrine Fund wrote his book
A Fascination With Falcons (1997) in which he
mentioned the time Bill and Gordon spent hik-
ing all night at Moose Lake in Wyoming look-
ing for Peregrines. I asked Gordon what he
knew about Moose Lake and he looked at me
and asked “what do you know about Moose
Lake?” Then I showed him Bill’s book. He read
the section about Moose Lake and said ”Dang,
rst you write about my getting stranded then
Bill writes about it. People are going to think I
am an idiot!”
— by Wayne Pennington
Gordon, Becca, Spencer
Ila Grenfell and Gordon
Tribute to Gordon Grenfell
— by Anne Price
I don’t remember the rst time I met Gordon,
but I do recall thinking that he was incredibly well-
read and seemed to have an extensive knowl-
edge of Colorado falconry. I thought I knew who
all the “big” names were who had resided in our
state and had been the pioneers in the early per-
egrine recovery effort in Colorado. But Gordon
took me way back and started at the beginning,
mentioning names like Morgan Berthrong and
other biologists and falconers I had never heard
of. His knowledge of printing and book-binding
was encyclopedic. He had a true passion for
books and lovingly described what it took to print
and bind a ne-quality volume.
Gordon’s interest in natural history, particu-
larly that of Colorado, never ceased to amaze
me. I remember that once we were talking on
the phone about large mammalian carnivores in
Colorado, and the extinction of the grizzly bear.
Gordon told me that maybe, just maybe, the
great bears still roamed our state, and then pro-
ceeded to tell me about a book he had on the
subject, called Ghost Grizzlies. He had met the
author and found his arguments for the contin-
ued survival of the grizzly bear in Colorado quite
compelling. The next time we had a CHC meet-
ing, Gordon brought me the book. He was gen-
erous that way and would give you the shirt off
his back, or in this case, the book off his shelf,
with no terms or thought of getting it back.
There were those who seriously underesti-
mated Gordon, based on how he spoke in pub-
lic. It was not his forte, and he knew that. But he
was earnest, friendly, very knowledgeable and
approachable in person, and it was in these one-
on-one conversations that Gordon really shined.
It was thanks to him, among many, many others,
that the long and ultimately successful regula-
tions governing peregrine take were established
in Colorado. Gordon worked very hard in those
early meetings with the Colorado Division of
Wildlife, ghting an endemic culture which prac-
tically refused to believe that a take of wild per-
egrines was feasible, reasonable, or even politi-
cally-justiable. If he hadn’t worked as hard as he
did, as patiently and steadily as he did, we would
not have a wild take of peregrines in Colorado.
Another wonderful legacy of Gordon’s was a
program within the Colorado Hawking Club which
he started, called “Caretakers of Wild Raptors”.
Gordon envisioned that falconers should want
to help the Division of Wildlife and other groups
such as the National Forest Service, Audubon,
etc., to count, study and monitor wild raptors,
and not just those species that were of interest
or “use” to falconers. Gordon wanted to nd a
way to build bridges, and give back to the wild
resource. Thanks to his leadership, the CHC has
worked in the Pawnee National Grasslands erect-
ing nesting platforms for Ferruginous Hawks,
and also helped with nesting raptor surveys and
counts in the southern end of Colorado, at the
Commanche Grasslands. The goodwill in the
birding community and camaraderie within the
Club that these events generate are Gordon’s
legacy. He loved it when falconers and non-fal-
coners found common ground and ways to work
He was a kind man, a good friend and a skill-
ful president during some turbulent years in the
Colorado Hawking Club. I miss him greatly….