Posts Tagged ‘corvid biology’

Last week, I made the mistake of going to a bookstore. I avoid bookstores, as a rule. I always leave them with books. More books. Books I want to read. Books that sit on the shelf and taunt me.

This last trip had an interesting twist: I left with all non-fiction.

One of these non-fiction books was Gifts of the Crow, by John Marzluff and Tony Angell. It is dissertation on the nature of corvids–crows, ravens, jays, magpies, etc.–and through the use of anecdotes and field studies, it illustrates how intelligent these birds are, and how many analogues exist between their behavior and ours.

Marzluff is a veteran ornithological biologist and Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington, here in Seattle. Angell is an illustrator whose line drawings accompany the text, and whose schematics of the corvid brain and anatomy fill the appendices. Let’s face it: these guys know their stuff.

It’s an intriguing subject for me. Ravens and crows are strong spiritual icons both here in the Pacific Northwest, and throughout the Native American cultures I studied for the novels of my Fallen Cloud Saga. Personally, blue jays (like the Steller’s jays that come to my deck and jeer at me until I give them some peanuts) are among my favorite birds. I’ve often noted how adaptable, how intelligent these birds seem to be. Their behavior always seemed to be a step more advanced than the other birds that frequent our back garden. In short, when I regarded the crows and jays that live around me, I often felt that there was someone in those birds, regarding me in return.


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