The animal on the cover of High Performance MySQL is a sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus), a small woodland member of the falcon family found in Eurasia and North Africa. Sparrow hawks have a long tail and short wings; males are bluish-gray with a light brown breast, and females are more brown-gray and have an almost fully white breast. Males are normally somewhat smaller (11 inches) than females (15 inches).
Sparrow hawks live in coniferous woods and feed on small mammals, insects, and birds. They nest in trees and sometimes on cliff ledges. At the beginning of the summer, the female lays four to six white eggs, blotched red and brown, in a nest made in the boughs of the tallest tree available. The male feeds the female and their young.
Like all hawks, the sparrow hawk is capable of bursts of high speed in flight. Whether soaring or gliding, the sparrow hawk has a characteristic flap-flap-glide action; its large tail enables the hawk to twist and turn effortlessly in and out of cover.
The cover image is a nineteenth-century engraving from the Dover Pictorial Archive. The cover font is Adobe ITC Garamond. The text font is Linotype Birka; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is LucasFont’s TheSansMonoCondensed.