John Johnson Craighead and his twin Frank Cooper Craighead Jr., were born in Washington, D.C. on August 14th, 100 years ago. John is still alive 100 years later. His brother, Frank, died in 2001 from Parkinson's.
The Craigheads got their start in nature exploring the banks of the Potomac River palisades -- the area surroundingh my house, and that just across and up the river.
At the age of 15, the Craighead twins decided to take up falconry, despite the fact that they had no one to teach them, no culture of falconry surrounding them, and few books on the subject to help them along. Following what few references they could find, they learned how to catch and train hawks, starting with Cooper’s hawks. Soon, they had friends in Pennsylvania and in Washington, D.C. following in their footsteps, and the sport of American falconry was born. The twins wrote an article about training hawks, owls, and eagles which appeared in National Geographic Magazine along with 25 photos. They next wrote Hawks in the Hand (1939), which became one of the seminal books of American falconry.
In 1959 the twins began a 12-year study of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park, radio tracking bears by satellite. That study ended in 1971 over disagreement with the National Park Service about how to deal with bears at campground dumps The Craigheads continued to study bears elsewhere in Montana, including in the Scapegoat Wilderness.
In 1998, the National Audubon Society named the brothers among the top 100 conservationists of the 20th century.