In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John M. MarzluffIn the Company of Crows and Ravens by John M. Marzluff

In the Company of Crows and Ravens

byJohn M. Marzluff, Tony AngellForeword byPaul R. Ehrlich

Paperback | June 5, 2007

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From the cave walls at Lascaux to the last painting by Van Gogh, from the works of Shakespeare to those of Mark Twain, there is clear evidence that crows and ravens influence human culture. Yet this influence is not unidirectional, say the authors  of this fascinating book: people profoundly influence crow culture, ecology, and evolution as well. Examining the often surprising ways that crows and humans interact, John Marzluff and Tony Angell contend that those interactions reflect a process of “cultural coevolution.” They offer a challenging new view of the human-crow dynamic—a view that may change our thinking not only about crows but also about ourselves.

Featuring more than 100 original drawings, the book takes a close look at the influences people have had on the lives of crows throughout history and at the significant ways crows have altered human lives. In the Company of Crows and Ravens illuminates the entwined histories of crows and people and concludes with an intriguing discussion of the crow-human relationship and how our attitudes toward crows may affect our cultural trajectory. As the authors state in their preface: “Crows and people share similar traits and social strategies. To a surprising extent, to know the crow is to know ourselves."




John M. Marzluff is Denman Professor of Sustainable Resource Sciences and professor of wildlife science, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington. Tony Angell is a freelance artist and writer in Lopez Island, Washington. Together the authors combine more than 60 years of scientific and artistic fascination with crows and t...
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Title:In the Company of Crows and RavensFormat:PaperbackDimensions:408 pages, 9.25 × 7 × 1.04 inPublished:June 5, 2007Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300122551

ISBN - 13:9780300122558

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Reviews

From the Author

Q: How did you come to write this book?A: Seven years ago we set out to write a natural history of the American crow, but a much different book emerged—a natural and cultural history of crows and ravens worldwide. Discovering the joint history of people and crows opened our eyes to the close and continuing relationship evolving between people and elements of the natural world. We hope others can experience our discovery. Crows are elegant without benefit of fancy and colorful plumage; they are animated and physically imposing, the fuel for artistic inspiration.Q: You’ve studied crows and ravens extensively. Does it seem that they in turn study you?A: (Marzluff) I particularly remember a raven who carefully approached one of myb traps, stopped short of stepping into it, and reached over to pull the grass camouflage off the trap’s trigger. He turned to look down the road at me before emphatically throwing the grass into the road and deftly reaching over the trap to grab the bread I used as bait. He didn’t have to look at me, but he did—like a celebratory football player who just scored!A: (Angell) My raven Macaw employed my “greeting” each morning as a vocal initiation of each day. After a few months of my saying “Hello, Macaw,” to him as a young bird, he would say “Hello, Macaw,” sometimes before I spoke, rather like a “Good morning” greeting. He always used it in this context during his time with me.Q: What might your readers be most surprised to learn about these birds?A: Our conclusion that crows have culture, and that it affects and is affected by  human culture, makes us realize that we share more than some would like to think with other animals. The tales from people who have witnessed apparent crow murders, funerals, and visitations from dead relatives will certainly shake readers. We hope that by bringing up such controversial crow traits, others will study them and help us all understand the actions of these powerful birds. That crows and their kin possess culture that in some ways parallels our own is a consideration not easily addressed.

Editorial Reviews

"A fascinating look at the corvid family, illustrated with Mr. Angell’s delightful black-and-white drawings."—Stuart Ferguson, Wall Street Journal "There is a wealth of folklore, biology and anecdote here about all species of crows – a cornucopia of corvid memorabilia. This is a well-researched, fascinating book to read, evocatively illustrated by Angell’s charming idiosyncratic scraperboards."—Tim Birkhead, Times Literary Supplement "[A] superb study that should deepen our understanding, and perhaps appreciation, of these fascinating birds."—Library Journal "[A] superb study that should deepen our understanding, and perhaps appreciation, of these fascinating birds. . . . These intrepid researchers go to extraordinary lengths. . . . Though Angell’s more than 100 charming drawings and the authors’ zest for their subjects may lend In the Company of Crows and Ravens popular appeal, this is a serious book well suited for academic or large public collections."—Library Journal ". . . intriguing and inspiring insights . . . rich tapestry of folklore and science . . . comprehensive account of the impact of crows on human culture."—Joanna Dally, Science "Fascinating discussions. . . . A wealth of amazing and amusing anecdotal material."—Nick Devlin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette "[A] delightful blend of science, art, and anthropology."—Booklist "[A] delightful blend of science, art, and anthropology, biologist Marzluff and illustrator Angell, both fascinated by the corvids, demonstrate why the crows and ravens are worthy of study and respect. . . . The text travels easily from science to folklore to literature, which, along with Angell's lively black-and-white illustrations, recommends this book highly."—Booklist "Sleek, evocative illustrations—a mysterious light seems to come directly from the eyes and feathers of these birds."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review "Sleek, evocative illustrations—a mysterious light seems to come directly from the eyes and feathers of these birds. . . . Learning how to slow down and observe animals around us is one simple way to form a stronger bond with nature. In the Company of Crows and Ravens is a subtle and beautiful reminder of this simple truth."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review "If corvids could read—and it seems they can do damn near everything else—they would surely find this book as entertaining and instructive as this human does."—Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History ". . . beautifully illustrated and produced . . . as gripping and difficult to put down as any good work of fiction."—Alex Kacelnik, Nature "Gorgeous illustrations. . . . Though Crows and Ravens is beautiful enough for coffee-table-book status, it advances an edgy, even spooky scientific idea: that throughout history, crows and humans have changed one another’s culture."—Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times "Marzluff and Angell provide detailed facts about every extant member of the genus Corvidae. They are particularly good at addressing the effects of human habitat on crows. They provide keen insight into corvid nesting and family habits, show how corvids learn culture, language and behaviour, and recommend ways to balance crow populations."—A. J. Levin, Toronto Globe & Mail "The authors' systematic exploration of this history is handsomely complemented by dozens of Angell's pen-and-ink drawings."—Roxana Robinson, Wilson Quarterly "Crows and ravens stir up much interest, precisely for the reasons John Marzluff and Tony Angell give in this handsomely illustrated work."—Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven "With engaging prose and compelling art, the authors tell us how our interactions with other species, especially crows and ravens, have influenced both us and them over the ages. . . . If you believe that we have great impacts on other species but that they have influenced us relatively little, then you should read this delightfully written and illustrated book."—Gordon H. Orians, University of Washington "Throughout human history, crows have been reviled and revered in equal measure. Now the corvids of folklore and fable are living up to their reputation for cleverness, trickery and ingenuity. Marzluff and Angell's wonderful book is a user's guide to the biology and culture of these fascinating animals and a testament to man's affinity with nature."—Nathan Emery, University of Cambridge "Members of the crow family (corvids), which include ravens, jays and magpies, as well crows, have the reputation of being mischievous, machaevellian creatures, who steal other birds' eggs and raid agricultural crops. But these corvids are also renowned for their wisdom as well as their deceit. This fascinating book describes not only the role corvids have played in our folklore but more generally how corvids have influenced human culture and the impact of humans on corvids. I hope this book will afford corvids the respect they deserve."—Nicola Clayton, University of Cambridge "This is the most detailed account I know of concerning crows and their interaction with man. A very readable and thought-provoking book!"—Noble S. Proctor, Ph.D., author of Manual of Ornithology and A Field Guide to North Atlantic Wildlife