corvid

Crow Planet: Finding Our Place in the Zopolis

Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Author . Little, Brown $23.99 (229p) ISBN 978-0-316-01910-1

Haupt, former raptor rehabilitator and seabird researcher, embarks on an urban ornithological expedition to defend the honor of the crow, the ubiquitous bird whose corvid family precedes Homo sapiens by several million years and whose symbolic and actual role as a scavenger and “liaison” between life and death evokes reactions ranging from revulsion to awe. Attracted to the sight of the birds nesting in her backyard, the author follows them as they forage in the moss along neighborhood streets and cavort in a nearby wildlife preserve. Her forays into Seattle’s “tenacious wild” demonstrate evidence of the crow community’s social complexity, their extensive vocabulary and fierce loyalty to their mates and species, Haupt enlivens her observations with tidbits from crow mythology and history, discovering that their bad press dates to the 14th-century outbreak of the bubonic plague when the birds scavenged the dead bodies lying in the streets, “beginning, horribly, with the eyeballs.” Despite some awkward prose, Haupt succeeds in humanizing the object of her naturalist obsession and affection. (July)

Reviewed on: 04/06/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009
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