cover image Dog Days, Raven Nights

Dog Days, Raven Nights

John Marzluff and Colleen Marzluff, with illustrations by Evon Zerbetz. Yale Univ., $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-300-16711-5

The Marzluffs' story appeals to the adventurer in us all: they set off to "'s training to understand a new world," specifically that of "The Common 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.)