This revised and expanded edition of Candace Savage’s best-selling book about ravens and crows is enhanced by additional paintings, drawings, and photos, as well as a fascinating selection of first-person stories and poems about remarkable encounters with crows. In one story, a pack of crows brilliantly thwarts an attack by a Golden Eagle; in another, a mischievous crow rescues the author from grief. And in a third piece, after nursing a battered baby crow back to health until it flies off with other crows, Louise Erdrich hauntingly describes her altered awareness as she listens for the “dark laugh” of crows while she works.
Based on two decades of audacious research by scientists around the world, the book also provides an unprecedented, evidence-based glimpse into corvids’ intellectual, social, and emotional lives. But whether viewed through the lens of science, myth, or everyday experience, the result is always the same. These birds are so smart—and so mysterious—they take your breath away.
In this charming introduction to the genus Corvus, Savage consolidates scientific research with myths and legends, to attest to the cleverness of crows, ravens, rooks and jackdaws. Savage begins with reports of tool-use by crows in New Guinea; they not only use bits of twig to dig insects out of narrow holes, but they also shape the twigs to form hooks that grab insects and prevent them from escaping. As legends show, humans have been fascinated by crows for thousands of years, and the raven plays a prominent role in many aboriginal creation myths. Synthesizing science and storytelling, Savage shows that the ancient image of crow-as-trickster bears out among contemporary researchers, who have observed such crow behavior as misrepresentation and misdirection. In addition, some species of crow show evidence of language skills and even artistic sensibility (as in the case of a winged shell collector). They also exhibit cooperative child-rearing, as well as grieving behavior after losing a mate or chick. Though this illuminating book ends too quickly, readers wishing to follow up on the clever Corvus will be quite pleased with Savage's detailed footnotes and lengthy list of references.