Corvus: A Life with Birds

Overview

Ever since her daughter rescued a fledgling rook years ago, Esther Woolfson has been fascinated with corvids, the bird group that includes crows, rooks, magpies, and ravens. Today, the rook, named Chicken, is a member of the Woolfson family, along with a talking magpie named Spike, a baby crow named Ziki, a starling, a parrot, and others. From their elaborate bathing rituals to their springtime broodiness and tendency to cache food in the most unlikely places, these corvids share a bond with humans that one might...

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Overview

Ever since her daughter rescued a fledgling rook years ago, Esther Woolfson has been fascinated with corvids, the bird group that includes crows, rooks, magpies, and ravens. Today, the rook, named Chicken, is a member of the Woolfson family, along with a talking magpie named Spike, a baby crow named Ziki, a starling, a parrot, and others. From their elaborate bathing rituals to their springtime broodiness and tendency to cache food in the most unlikely places, these corvids share a bond with humans that one might never have imagined before reading this book.
Letting her experience speak for itself, Woolfson likens the fears and foibles of corvids to those of humans, taking into account the science of bird intelligence, evolution, song, and flight. She highlights their big personalities and capacity for affection: Chicken hates computers and machines, while she loves evening neck scratches on Woolfson’s knee. It is through this intimate lens that Woolfson invites us to reconsider the kind of creature capable of being man’s best friend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Shortly after settling with her husband and two daughters in a rambling Edwardian house in Aberdeen, Scotland, the gift of several pairs of doves inspired UK novelist and nature writer Woolfson to convert her new coal shed into a dovecote. The doves were followed by housebirds: a cockatiel for their daughter, a flightless rosella parrot the pet store couldn't get rid of, and a succession of unfledged birds rescued by neighbors. Woolfson learned how to care for everything from infant birds to elderly parrots with dysfunctional backgrounds; the menagerie eventually includes a swearing starling, a young rook named Chicken, and Spikey the magpie. Describing how her birds communicate (nearly all the house birds talk), she reveals distinct personalities and idiosyncrasies; she also discusses birds in the wild and natural history, and her neurologist husband is particularly keen on bird brains. The highly intelligent Corvus genus, including crows, magpies, rooks and ravens, fascinate Woolfson the most, and she transmits their appeal with startling clarity. Additionally, Helen Macdonald's beautiful illustrations add resonance to each chapter's subject. A satisfying read from a masterful stylist, this will appeal to any fan of nature writing or personal essays.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582435831
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,089,409
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Charming, hilarious and hugely informative! The new Gerald Durrel.

    It is unusual to find a book that is so satisfying; The story of Esther Woolfson and her various birds and family is beautifully written, poignant and at times very funny. Her personal experiences are mixed with sections on the science and history of her subject all of which was well researched and by no means dry. Paleontology, Scottish history and folklore, the environment and consciousness (bird and human) are some of the many subjects touched on by the author in her exploration of her life with the birds she lives with.

    I felt bereft on finishing Corvus, I enjoyed it so much and it has opened my eyes to much of the life around me which (as a city dweller) used to go unnoticed.

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    Posted April 16, 2011

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