New research indicates that crows are among the brightest animals in the world. And professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington John Marzluff has done some of the most extraordinary research on crows, which has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, and the Chicago Tribune, as well as on NPR and PBS. Now he teams up with artist and fellow naturalist Tony Angell to offer an in-depth look at these incredible creatures - in a book that is brimming with surprises.
Redefining the notion of “bird brain,” crows and ravens are often called feathered apes because of their clever tool-making and their ability to respond to environmental challenges, including those posed by humans. Indeed, their long lives, social habits, and large complex brains allow them to observe and learn from us and our social gatherings. Their marvelous brains allow crows to think, plan, and reconsider their actions. In these and other enthralling revelations, Marzluff and Angell portray creatures that are nothing short of amazing: They play, bestow gifts on people who help or feed them, use cars as nutcrackers, seek revenge on animals that harass them, are tricksters that lure birds to their deaths, and dream.
The authors marvel at crows' behavior that we humans would find strangely familiar, from delinquency and risk-taking to passion and frolic. A testament to years of painstaking research, this riveting work is a thrilling look at one of nature's most wondrous creatures.
©2012 John Marzluff and Tony Angell (P)2012 Tantor
"A great read, serious and at times hilarious, this book explores the many complex similarities between crows' mental traits and our own." (Bernd Heinrich, author of Summer World)
I never stop being amazed at the world in which we live. Who would have thought that the ubiquitous crow could hold such wonders?
The author explores the mysteries of the crow, raven and other members of the corvid family (look it up in Wikipedia--I had to) to bring the reader a new appreciation of the uncanny intelligence of these creatures who have not only coexisted but thrived in the company of humans for millennia. In turn, these birds have had a powerful impact on human culture around the world as evidenced by mythologies and folktales in North America, Europe and Asia.
The author explores many aspects of corvid behavior which testify to their high-level thinking. The anecdotes he recites range from the hilarious to the poignant to the downright amazing. Just a few of the behaviors discussed are tool use, gift-giving, play (both with other crows and with other species), strategic thinking, grief, language production/comprehension, and cultural memory.
Significant portions of the book are of a scientific nature in terms of evolutionary biology and neuroanatomy. While initially interesting, these sections typically became fairly technical in nature and offered information that was more complex than what I either wanted or could absorb. More scientifically proficient readers may well appreciate these sections and there is a downloadable pdf. accompanying the book which is available on the publisher's website.
Still, I very much felt this was a worthwhile book. Who would not want to gain a better appreciation for and understanding of this familiar neighbor? It has inspired me to look for new ways to interact with these remarkable creatures in my own life!
The unscientific anecdotes were treated as reliable scientific evidence.
This is a very strange book. It mixes the most unscientific anecdotal stories with seemingly endless descriptions of bird brain neurobiology into a mix that simply didn't work for me. One minute you are reading some charming anecdote about a raven and almost in mid-sentence you are dumped into long descriptions of neurotrasnmitters and brain structures.
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