Great Lakes Falconers Association
HAWK CHALK VOL XL. No. 1, April, 2001
Ken Invergo — 1939 - 2001 (NAFA member since 1964)
In the environmental classic Sand County Almanac,
with Essays on Conservation from Round River, Aldo
Leopold wrote:
When I was a young boy, there was an old German
merchant who lived in a little cottage in our town.
On Sundays, he used to go out and knock chips off
the limestone ledges along the Mississippi, and he
had a great tonnage of these chips, all labeled and
catalogued. The chips contained little fossil stems
of some defunct water creatures called crinoids.
The townspeople regarded this gentle old fellow
as just a little bit abnormal, but harmless. One day
the newspaper reported the arrival of certain titled
strangers. It was whispered that these visitors were
great scientists. Some of them were from foreign
lands, and some were among the world’s leading
paleontologists. They came to visit the harmless old
man and to hear his pronouncements on crinoids,
and they accepted these announcements as law.
When the old German died, the town awoke to the
fact that he was a world authority on the subject, a
creator of knowledge, a maker of scientific history.
He was a great man — a man beside whom the lo-
cal captains of industry were mere bushwhackers.
His collection went to a national museum, and his
name is known in all the nations of the earth.
In his Good Oak essay, Leopold wrote:
There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a
farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast
comas from the grocery, and the other is that heat
comes from the furnace.
Aldo didn’t know Ken, but his writing describes Ken’s
character and life. Scientists and government biologists
throughout the world benefited from Ken’s research and
banding of hundreds of birds of prey during the fall mi-
gration along the Mississippi River.
The falconry community is a little thinner because of
the death of Ken Invergo. Though short in stature, Ken
stood tall alongside of all those who were fortunate
enough to come in contact with him. His generosity was
legendary. His home was always open, his blind was al-
ways available, and his wife Jo could make a meal on a
moment’s notice.
The memories that so many of have of fall trapping with
him along the Mississippi are too numerous to count.
Nearly every apprentice in Illinois trapped his or her
first redtail at Invergo’s farm. Then Ken would host
sponsors and apprentices under the stars after a day of
experiencing the thrill of hawks plummeting from hun-
dreds of feet in the sky. These campfires are memories
to be treasured.
Ken flew every species of raptor (his old flying area has
a road called Falcon’s Ridge Way that was named for his
prairie), but his true love was reserved for the redtail.
He trained some of the best.
His sense of humor and love of a good practical
joke made many field meets memorable. When Don
Bandauski and Larry Miller started a sentence with, “You
know what we should do?...” Ken would light up and his
mischievous mind would be racing. “I’m in!” he would
announce, and another adventure was soon put into
Ken fought a long, painful and courageous battle
with cancer. But those of you who saw him in 1999 in
Waverly saw his determination not to let the disease de-
ter him from his friends and his passion for falconry. The
fight is over— now, his pain is no more, but the hearts
of all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him are
filled with the memories that make life worth living.
—Written by Larry Miller and Bob Collins
Ken, Ken Jr., and apprentice Earl
Nowakowski with his first redtail.
Nearly all Illinois falconers caught
their first redtail at Invergo’s.
Ken Jr. not only worked with his father in the family quail-breeding
business, but also loved trapping and banding as much as father.