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Book Review: Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff and Tony Angell

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As a master naturalist, photographer, and outdoors lover, I find Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans to be a wonderful collection of tips and observations that confirms much of what I have noticed over the years, and it also provides me with additional information that will make observing the birds much more enjoyable.

Gifts of the Crow is based on extensive academic research, and yet this book about a family of birds known as corvids (e.g. crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers) is surprisingly understandable for general audiences.

John Marzluff (wildlife science, Univ. of Washington) and illustrator and nature writer Tony Angell provide a remarkable look at the amazing intellect of the common crow and raven, and demonstrate how these creatures are capable of planning, making tools, adapting to their environment, playing, gift giving, and other behaviors formerly believed to be uncharacteristic of birds.

Gifts of the Crow begins with a detailed look at the complexity of these birds’ brains and follows with a discussion of their intelligence, learning, and language capabilities. The corvids are extremely social birds, and the book covers how they deal with complex concepts such as grief, cognition, revenge, and more.

Marzluff and Angell keep the material interesting with witticisms, anecdotes, and stories that make Gifts of the Crow read more like a novel than a dry scientific study and will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone with an interest in nature.

Filled with anecdotes, this is far from a dry, academic work. Marzluff and Angell’s latest will be enjoyed by anyone interested in nature. Gifts of the Crow is  highly recommended.

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About Kathleen Riley-Daniels

Adventurer, Photographer, Author, Artist, Cooking, Genealogy, Dogs, Horses, Marketing and oh so much more.