Gifts of the Crow
How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
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Playful, social, and passionate, crows have brains that are huge for their body size, which allows them to think, plan, and reconsider their actions. They also exhibit an avian kind of eloquence, mate for life, and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And to people who care for them and feed them, they often give oddly touching gifts in return.
The ongoing connection between humans and crows—a cultural coevolution—has shaped both species for millions of years. Scientist John Marzluff teams up with artist-naturalist Tony Angell to tell amazing stories of these brilliant birds. With Marzluff’s extraordinary original research on the intelligence and startling abilities of corvids—crows, ravens, and jays—Angell’s gorgeous line drawings, and a lively joint narrative, the authors offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and the traits and behaviors we share, including language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk taking, and awareness. Crows gather around their dead, warn of impending doom, recognize people, commit murder of other crows, lure animals to their death, swill coffee and drink beer, design and use tools—including cars as nutcrackers—and windsurf and sled to play.
With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing.
John Marzluff, Ph.D., is Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington. The author of four books and over one hundred scientific papers on various aspects of bird behavior, he is the recipient of the A. Brazier Howell, Board of Directors, and H.R. Painton awards from the Cooper Ornithological Society.
“Researchers writing about comparative human and nonhuman cognition always make brief, obligatory reference to the underlying neurological and hormonal systems, but Marzluff and Angell actually provide us with the details. In lucid, logical, and articulate prose, they carefully explain all the interrelated mechanisms involved in the fascinating behavior patterns of their corvid subjects and how these mechanisms relate to those of humans. Their book is indeed a gift, not only to those of us eager to learn about corvid behavior but also but also to those who wish to understand the bases for these actions.”
-Irene M. Pepperberg, author of Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
“John Marzluff and Tony Angell's amazing, true stories of crows who rage, grieve, give gifts, work together, and even design and use tools would be enough to make this book a great read. But these maverick scientists go a step further, and actually show how these birds' big brains, though different from our own, achieve many of the same feats. Gifts of the Crow is a gift to all of us who have argued for years that humans don't possess the only minds in the universe. This is one of the most exciting books I've read in a long time.”
-Sy Montgomery, author of Birdology
"In this important work, you’ll find stunning examples of crow emotionality and intelligence -- a triumphant vindication for those who have known all along that animals are capable of much more than they’re generally given credit for. . Crows dream as part of their learning process, for instance, and profile other individuals’ behavior and act accordingly. In many ways, their intelligence is equal to that of the great apes. Fascinating."
-Stacey O'Brien, author of Wesley the Owl
"Full of clear and detailed accounts of research...remarkable."
"Angell’s illustrations of birds are exquisitely detailed... the book will instill in many readers a sense of wonder and curiosity at what these birds can do. An insightful look at some of our surprisingly capable feathered friends."
“Delightful… a series of intriguing stories and stunning illustrations that together reveal the sophisticated cognitive abilities of crows and their relationship with humans."
"With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing. A testament to years of painstaking research and careful observation, this fully illustrated, riveting work is a thrilling look at one of nature's most wondrous creatures."
"A great read, this book is a tribute to the little-known and underappreciated minds of the birds of the amazing corvid family. Serious and at times hilarious, it pulled me in with its telling anecdotes and scientific context. Most importantly, it acknowledges and explores the many complex similarities between crows' mental traits and our own."
-Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven
“Gifts of the Crow is a compelling book. Filled with wonderful stories of regular people’s interactions with ravens, crows, and jays, it also cites engrossing scientific studies, reports on the field work of biologists, and offers detailed explanations of how the brain of a corvid actually works. I was fascinated.”
-Suzie Gilbert, author of Flyaway: How A Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings