This article was sparked by a request from a follower on Twitter who requested that I compile a reading list for individuals interested in learning more about corvids. If you have any further recommendations, please feel free to share them in the comments area below. It’s important to note up front that John Marzluff is my graduate advisor, but rest assured that my opinions of his work are not influenced by my desire to have my dissertation proposal approved. As a result, here is a list of all the corvid novels I’ve read, along with a quick overview of the content and my suggestion.
In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John Marzluff and Tony AngellIf
Consider this your crow bible if you like viewing, feeding, or rehabilitating corvids in your spare time. How long do crows live for? What do they do while they’re young? How do they sound? What about the way they engage with others? Everything is included. This is still my go-to resource for general information about crows. It’s written in a style that’s simple to understand despite the fact that it’s based on solid research. It was written by John and Tony with the intention of appealing to a broad audience, and I believe they did a wonderful job of accomplishing that goal. No doubt, after reading this book, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for Tony’s artwork as well as a better knowledge of these birds. Even my wedding invites included one of his illustrations from the book (with permission, of course).
Dog Days Raven Nights by John and Colleen Marzluff
Among my personal friends and family, this is the book that I most often suggest. Because it gives you the greatest understanding of what it takes to perform fieldwork, rather than because it provides better or more readily readable information about corvids. The majority of the book is devoted to the time when John and Colleen concluded their graduate studies in Arizona and began working with Bernd Heinrich on a post-doctoral research project on ravens in the isolated Maine wilderness. A back-and-forth between John and Colleen allows you to see the raven work and Colleen’s growth as a dog sledder and trainer from two different points of view. Readers get a clearer understanding of how difficult it is to answer questions about animal behavior by experiencing what it is like to devote all of your time, energy, and money to performing a field experiment. However, if you’re not interested in the human aspect of science, don’t worry. Still, the book has a wealth of intriguing material about ravens, including one of John’s most significant contributions, which is raven-to-raven information exchange. Definitely worth the time.
Gifts of the Crow by John Marzluff and Tony Angell
If you’re interested in learning more about crow behavior and neurology on a more in-depth level, this is the book for you. It’s not as humorous as ITCOCR, but Marzluff’s characteristic method of combining hard research with the anecdotal anecdotes of crow behavior that make us like them is still there in this book. To fully appreciate Gabi Mann’s tale, you must first understand some basic scientific principles about crows and how they eat and reward their victims.
Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich
Bernd Heinrich, John Marzluff’s postdoc advisor, was already an expert in the game long before Marzluff began authoring books. As a natural history writer, Heinrich has a reputation for being one of the most fluent and enthralling. The book Mind of the Raven piqued my interest in corvids, therefore in many respects I owe it to this book for my current work. I can’t suggest it highly enough to anybody who is interested in ravens, whether they live with them or are just fascinated by them. In Bernd’s writing, he will inspire you and provide you with scientific evidence to support your belief that ravens are amazing.
Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Haupt’s quest to discover wonder and beauty in an increasingly urban setting, when the natural world might seem more and further distant, is the best way to describe Crow Planet. When the woods were gone, crows were the ideal vehicle for seeing and enjoying what was left behind in their place. While researching and authoring Crow Planet, Haupt says she came to admire crows more than she had before. This is despite the fact that she manages to write about these animals with elegance, and her tales are sure to make even the most skeptical take another look at these creatures. There are factual truths that Haupt doesn’t ignore from her descriptions, but she takes greater creative license than John or Heinrich do. To sum it up, this is a great book for anybody interested in urban ecology or crows.
Crow by Boria Sax
This is the book to read if you’re into crow legends. When it comes to myth, religion, and artistic expression, corvids have played a significant part throughout human history. This book’s depth and breadth are unmatched, but it will be a chore to read if anthropology isn’t your thing. While I like having it on hand, I’ve never had the time to read it cover to cover. Nonetheless, I think I should read it since it has a wealth of knowledge and historical background that I would benefit from.
Bird Brain: An exploration of avian intelligence by Nathan Emery
Bird Brain, published by corvid cognition specialist Dr. Nathan Emery but not entirely focused to corvids, gives a fascinating peek inside the brains of your favorite birds. In spite of the fact that Emery’s book deals with some of the more challenging aspects of avian cognition, it is presented in an appealing and visually appealing manner. In each chapter, a certain element of cognition (such as communication, spatial memory, etc.) is examined and the reader is taken through the most intriguing research on the subject. Anecdotes and metaphors abound in this book, which is refreshing in an often dull field like science. Whether you’re an aspiring scientist or a die-hard enthusiast of corvids, this book is for you.
The wake of crows: Living and dying in shared worlds by Thom vanDooren
When it comes to literature, there are few other creatures that can match the breadth of what has been written about crows. In the field of crow research, this book stands out above the others since each writer brings a unique viewpoint to bear on the subject. Not a conventional natural history book, not a biography of how crows have shaped my life, but a book about the importance of crows to me. He has instead utilized the loom of crows to weave together science and the humanities to produce a thesis on what it means to be alive in the modern world.. It is crucial to ask, “What else is possible?” in order to support this claim. It is a question that the reader of conventional science and natural history will find everything but familiar. Instead than asking us to regard the crow as pest or bad omen as we are accustomed to, we are urged to do so systematically and in ways that eventually shape the reader’s ethics. What it means to live in a shared environment is examined in a unique and profound way in this book. It’s not a quick read, but it provides the sense of discovery that so many people yearn for.”