The Wingless Crow joins together thirty-three superb short essays on nature, science, country living, and self. They are written by a man who—watchful, inquisitive, at times prickly—is animated by delight, wonder, and love for the rural places and wildlife of Pennsylvania. Charles Fergus wrote these insightful pieces for his monthly column, "Thornapples," which ran in Pennsylvania Game News magazine from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. They are based on many hours spent hiking, skiing, botanizing, and observing wild creatures, as well as trips to libraries and hours spent with books, teasing out information about the objects of his interest.
The writing is simple and vivid, rendered dramatic through the delivery of carefully chosen details. Fergus scrutinizes a captured dragonfly and sees "a bubble of a hide through which organs glimmer." He recalls a night in a tent when lightning shook the ground. He tells about topographic maps and deerflies and auctions and poisonous mushrooms and crows. Propelled by an unrelenting curiosity, a wry sense of humor, and the tough heart of a born curmudgeon, Fergus is astonished at how little he sees at first—and how much, with care and dedication, there is to see. Readers will delight in his observations of and insights into the everyday life, both human and wild, animating the wooded mountains and farmed valleys of the author's central Pennsylvania home.