Dog Days, Raven Nights

Dog Days, Raven Nights

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by John M. Marzluff, Colleen Marzluff, Evon Zerbetz
     
 

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Twenty years ago, fresh out of graduate school and recently married, John and Colleen Marzluff left Arizona for a small cabin in the mountains of western Maine. Their mission: to conduct the first-ever extensive study of the winter ecology of the Common Raven under the tutelage of biologist Bernd Heinrich.

Drawing on field notes and personal diaries, they

Overview

Twenty years ago, fresh out of graduate school and recently married, John and Colleen Marzluff left Arizona for a small cabin in the mountains of western Maine. Their mission: to conduct the first-ever extensive study of the winter ecology of the Common Raven under the tutelage of biologist Bernd Heinrich.

Drawing on field notes and personal diaries, they vividly and eloquently chronicle their three-year endeavor to research a mysterious and often misunderstood bird—assembling a gigantic aviary, climbing sentry trees, building bird blinds in the forest, capturing and sustaining 300 ravens as study subjects, and enduring harsh Maine winters in pursuit of their goal. They also shared the unique challenges and joys of raising, training, and racing the sled dogs that assisted them in their work.

Accompanied by Evon Zerbetz's lovely linocut illustrations, Dog Days, Raven Nights is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the adventures of field science and an insightful exploration of the nature of relationships, both animal and human.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Marzluffs' story appeals to the adventurer in us all: they set off to "apply...life's training to understand a new world," specifically that of "The Common Raven...an often reviled, jet-black scavenger." The couple leaves Flagstaff, Ariz. for a remote corner of the American Northeast, where they take up residency in a cabin so tiny that "putting wood in the woodstove at night didn't involve getting out of bed." They're out to determine if vagrant ravens use their "roosts as an information center" and undertake a three-year study that would provide plenty of adventure for the two scientists, especially when it involved procuring food for the captive ravens. Some of the book's most entertaining stories involve chasing across Maine to retrieve "road killed deer and moose" only to often lose the prize to hungry (human) residents. Despite grueling hours of observation, the Marzluffs marvel at small moments such as raven fledglings mud wrestling. The Marzluffs take up dog show and sled competitions to break the monotony of their lives, but not, unfortunately, their book, which starts with great promise but loses charm as the days (and years) drag on. Linocut illustrations; photos. (Apr.)
The Seattle Times
Fascinating and beautifully written book. . . . They give a good account of their studies, and while theydon't claim to have found definitive answers to all questions, they have 'opened the door' to future research. And they've opened another door, as hoped, welcoming a wide reading audience too.—Irene Wanner, The Seattle Times

— Irene Wanner

Kirkus Reviews

In 1988, John Marzluff (Wildlife Science/Univ. of Washington; In the Company of Crows and Ravens, 2005, etc.) and his wife Colleen set out into the Maine wilderness, where they studied the social behavior of ravens and became part of a community of local people upon whom they depended for support, companionship and fun.

With job opportunities for post-docs difficult to find, the authors jumped at the chance to study how ravens communicated in the wild. At the invitation of well-regarded ecologist Bern Heinrich, the couple moved from the desert ecology of Arizona to a small cabin in rural Maine, bringing only a few possessions and their dogs with them. Heinrich, born and raised in the area, taught at the University of Vermont. His specialty until then had been the social behavior of bees, but he became fascinated by the behavior of ravens when they encountered food. He wondered if their loud calls could be compared with the way that bees intentionally communicate in similar circumstances. Not only did Heinrich guide the Marzluffs' research—and provide the site on which they built a large aviary to house the captive birds they trapped and studied—but he introduced them to his circle of lifelong friends in the area, who adopted the young couple and helped them get established. Though authors faced major adjustments—lack of amenities, a three-year budget of only $50,000, the demanding physical environment of Maine—three years later, not only had they thrived on the challenge, but their dog family grew to five and Colleen had become an expert at raising and training sled dogs.

An enjoyable chronicle of life in the wilds of Maine.

The Seattle Times - Irene Wanner

"Fascinating and beautifully written book. . . . They give a good account of their studies, and while theydon't claim to have found definitive answers to all questions, they have 'opened the door' to future research. And they've opened another door, as hoped, welcoming a wide reading audience too."—Irene Wanner, The Seattle Times
Nature - Patricia Churchland

“Full of the grittiness of experimental persistence—and the splendour of ravens and dogs—this is a warm tale of wonderful science.”—Patricia Churchland, Nature
Ivan Doig

"This remarkable husband-and-wife account of pathbreaking wildlife research in the snows of Maine whisks the reader along on a rare and spirited adventure into three interlocking worlds—avian, canine, and deeply human."—Ivan Doig, author of This House of Sky
Times Literary Supplement - Mark Cocker

“This is also a book of great fascination and even of beauty……Dog Days, Raven Nights is a work of science but it is also a book about research as adventure and as a strange, deeply enriching kind of human fulfilment.”—Mark Cocker, Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300167115
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
03/29/2011
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author


John M. Marzluff is professor of wildlife science, College of the Environment, University of Washington. Colleen Marzluff is an expert in the raising and training of sled dogs and herding dogs. They live in Snohomish, WA. Evon Zerbetz is an artist in Ketchikan, AK.

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Dog Days, Raven Nights 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago