Gifts of the Crow

How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds To Behave Like Humans
Marzluff, John M. & . Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds To Behave Like Humans. Free Pr: S. & S. Jun. 2012. c.304p.illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439198735. $25. NAT HIST
Although based on extensive academic research, this book about a family of birds known as corvids (e.g., crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers) is surprisingly accessible for general audiences. Together Marzluff (wildlife science, Univ. of Washington) and illustrator and nature writer Angell (coauthors, In the Company of Crows and Ravens) provide readers with a remarkable look at just how smart the common crow and raven are and demonstrate how these creatures are capable of planning, making tools, adapting to their environment, playing, gift giving, and other behaviors thought to be uncharacteristic of birds. Marzluff and Angell start with a detailed look at the complexity of these birds' brains and follow with a discussion of their intelligence, learning, and language capabilities. Since corvids are such social birds, some chapters deal with complex concepts such as grief, cognition, revenge, and more.
VERDICT Filled with anecdotes, this is far from a dry, academic work. Marzluff and Angell's latest will be enjoyed by anyone interested in nature. Highly recommended.

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