I have been fascinated with crows ever since I was young. Not that I was a birder back then, this was just a part of shared nature observations that was ongoing in my family anytime we were outside or looking out the window. My parents certainly would observe their behaviors and point them out to us. My father might say “watch the crows, they’re really smart you know. Let’s see if we can figure out what they are trying to do.” My father knew this would kindle my curiosity and my focus at a young age would kick in instantly with a new mystery to figure out.
Of course then I’d grill my parents, “what are they doing and why are they doing that?” My father was not always sure, and might offer that maybe they were gathering nest material, as it was early spring. I recall my father commenting that when he would feed the birds, a crow once reciprocated and left my father a present where the food was scattered.
Fast forward years later to June of 2012; I had the pleasure of hosting an interview on BirdCallsRadio with John Marzluff and Tony Angell, Authors and Illustrator of the book, “Gifts of the Crow”. This book had just been published on June 5, 2012 and is the second installment in this book series about the corvid family. Click here to listen to my interview. bcr 6-10-12 crows
More recently the collaboration of Simon and Schuster publishers and the Mid-Manhattan Library of the New York Public Library, brought author Dr. John Marzluff Ph.D to New York City where he presented an Illustrated talk on his book “Gifts of the Crow” on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. A must have book that you will be hard pressed to put down!
Cynthia Chaldekas, Senior Librarian, from the The New York Public Library, Mid Manhattan., Introduces John Marzluff, Author, “Gifts of the Crow”. Illustrated presentation at The New York Public Library Mid-Manhattan. New York, NY. April 2, 2013.
My husband, Townsend Dickinson offers his two cents after absorbing the book. I have been fond of crows since I was a kid growing up in suburbs in Connecticut. We cohabited with two different young crows in those years. My mother certainly had a soft spot for these orphans, as she was often the prime caregiver when school got in the way. The companionship of those two crows, are among my most vivid childhood memories. The second free flying crow would come over, when called by his name (Crow) and would join me on the driveway as I poured a little puddle of my drink. He’d only take a sip or two and generally would end bathing in the puddle. After the sips, the bath and maybe even a “hello Crow” he would fly up in the trees over our heads and would leave us to retire elsewhere to spend the night.
I got to know them as social creatures and I also knew them to be very wary around humans for it was near the end of the days when a crow would be shot on sight by farmers. My venture into a deeper understanding of corvids came from reading the “Mind of a Raven” by Bernd Heinrich. He came long after I had digested “The Herring Gull’s World by Nikolaas Tinbergen. My investigations into bird behaviors were abetted by my interest in photography as tool to capture avian behavior.
I am blessed to live in an area where I can see three different Corvids if I’m lucky in a day. The Common crow, Fish crow and the Raven all breed in Connecticut. The Raven in Connecticut is actually moving into new habits where they have not been recorded previously.
When the “Gifts of the Crow” came along I dove in, fascinated by the stories of corvid behaviors from around the world and I read most of the book in two sittings. At first I just skimmed the birdbrain parts of the book in my haste to get to next corvid antic. I quickly came to understand the unique behavior observations led the authors to delve deep in the inner workings of the Corvid brain and they take the reader along on this journey.
The tales lead one gently into an understanding of avian thinking apparatus and abilities. I generally shy away from hard biology, but this approachable introduction to complex avian biology helps to explain how the physical crow birdbrain and processes enable them act as they do. It does not hurt that illustrations provide the icing that helps to explain complex science and make it all more palatable to a layman. I can recommend this book on many levels and cannot wait to see what these two authors will do next.
For more information about Dr. John Marzluff, Ph.D and Tony Angell or the book, “Gifts of the Crow” including their copyright images and Illustration in this article please visit.
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