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Crow Country

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  373 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
One night Mark Cocker followed the roiling, deafening flock of rooks and jackdaws which regularly passed over his Norfolk home on their way to roost in the Yare valley. From the moment he watched the multitudes blossom as a mysterious dark flower above the night woods, these gloriously commonplace birds were unsheathed entirely from their ordinariness. They became for Cock ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 2nd 2007 by Jonathan Cape
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City born and raised as I am books like this which give a sense of the rich complexity of the lives of a couple of the creatures that we share our country with, in this case the Corvid family of Crows, Ravens and Rooks are hugely valuable. There's a lot here that is enjoyable as Cocker travels in the UK and offers up more about the lives and habits of the Corvids. It's a portrait of a world as complete and involved as our own but that sits alongside us, separate and only glimpsed at.

Cocker begin
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a book more about a personal, anecdotal, observational understanding of crows than a scientific one. It tells us, perhaps, as much about Cocker as about the corvids. It’s written in a lyrical sort of way, with plenty of Cocker’s own sense of wonder communicating itself through his breathless and admiring descriptions. I think he’s achieved what he set out to do, in that I want to go out now and find a rookery, watch some jackdaws, learn the differences between all the British corvids and ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
My reason for reading this book is that where I work we have a rookery living in a few of our amazing trees, it is quite small, I think about300 birds. I am always walking past the trees looking upwards with me mouth wide open watching them playing together and scaring off Red Kites. I thought it was time to learn a bit more.

This book is not quite what I expected, I thought it was going to just be some info about birds and the authors experiences in watching the birds, it is that and more. There
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction10
A book to read slowly, to savour each and every chapter. And still I’m sad to reach the end.

Cocker is not afraid to share his passion. He writes poetic prose to paint the bird filled scenes that have fired his interest. (Other readers criticised the authorial dominance throughout, but that was its strength for me)

I liked the way he offered myths and misunderstandings alongside hard facts.

In reading about the Cocker’s rooks and crows I learned a lot about myself too. There are anecdotes and imag
Arun Divakar
Crows are rather unceremoniously overlooked since they are pretty much a fixture in our daily lives. Considering the abundance of numbers and their sharp intelligence it might only be a matter of time before they decide to take over the world. Step out of the house for a moment and look around, chances are that you would see a crow (or a corvid) somewhere around you. The bird has pretty much accustomed itself completely with life in thriving cities and remote hamlets alike. It was on the way bac ...more
Rebecca Wilson
Soporific and short and all about rooks. A good book for early bedtimes. I started Crow Country (~215 pp) at about the same time I started David Copperfield (~900 pp). This was an interesting pairing for a few reasons: 1. Turns out Crow Country is also Copperfield Country—the Yare Valley and Norfolk Broads near Great Yarmouth. Both books depict the landscape in vastly different ways. 2. David Copperfield's childhood home was called The Rookery, BUT there are no rooks, ha! 3. Copperfield never co ...more
Michael Livingston
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
A lovely meditation on one of England's most common birds, highlighting the richness that can come from really paying attention. Enough to have me ready to dust the binoculars off on the weekend and go wandering the Merri Creek.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Since I'm a corvophile, I'm biased, but I absolutely love this book. It's British, so what we call crows*, he calls rooks. Also, only in Britain, jackdaws accompany rooks to their nightly roost to the rookeries. The author's passion for these birds (and for life) comes through in every sentence. I liked learning that in the 1800s people sought out rookeries and built their mansions close to them. I liked that in Nazi Germany, the POWs published a paper of their observations counting crows flying ...more
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long ellipse of shapes, ragged and playful, strung out across the valley for perhaps half a kilometre, rides the uplift from the north wind directly towards my location. The birds, rooks and jackdaws heading to their evening roost, don't materialise gradually -- a vague blur slowly taking shape -- they tunnel into view as if suddenly breaking through a membrane. One moment they aren't visible. Then they are, and I track their course to the great skirt of stubble flowing down below me ...

A shor
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is this book a natural history? Is it an autobiography? Is it a prose poem? Well, in fact it's all three, and sometimes all at once. In this book, we learn about Mark Cocker's developing fascination with all members of the crow family, as he moves from innner city Norwich to the countryside, and quite simply, gets to see more corvids. He indulges in lyrical descriptions of their movements, follows research projects of his own devising, travels and reads voraciously in search of more information ...more
Mardel Fehrenbach
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and quite enjoyable. I'd probably rate it 3 1/2 if possible as there was much I loved about the book, the author's writing, and the way he connected the lives of corvids with our environment and his own pursuit of understanding. But I also learned that I am just not that interested in crows, or probably any bird, beyond the abstract. I can highly recommend it, while acknowledging that it may also not be for everyone, including, perhaps, this reader. I do not regret reading it ...more
Thea Bennett
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I look at the rooks and jackdaws of my local landscape very differently after reading Crow Country. I hear their voices, I understand where they are in their yearly cycles of flocking, pairing up, breeding. They have become an important part of my daily walks. The book is one I have read several times, for the sheer pleasure of accompanying Mark Cocker on his expeditions into the outback of Norfolk as he follows his beloved rooks. Soul food!
Anita Marie
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn't like the book. It didn't have a fine structure or anything. It didn't have the contents.
I was really disappointed. I struggled hard to find there the bits of information that was worth reading. Of coure, there are some pearls to find, but it wasn't smooth reading at all.
It looked like the author didn't have a plan either. The book is more like poetry than prose.
There are better books about corvids.
Richard Howard
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-this-year
This is a beautifully written account of one man's passion for the natural history of the rook. The rook is a powerful figure in folklore but doesn't ride high in the contemporary imagination but in this book Mark Cocker makes a powerful argument that we should all be more aware of this iconic bird.
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really nicely written, and fascinating, evocative stuff, although hard to put aside the usual suburban town-dweller's envy... Star knocked off: I know why so many of these books have a 'justification of my interest in the natural world' section, but I always feel less interested by all that.
Adeptus Fringilla
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent book, well written by Mark Cocker, as expected. It has a good mix of narrative, general nature writing and science. I would have liked to see a chapter about the significant mythology of these birds
Gareth Culshaw
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. It helped me get through a tough period and I cannot recommend it enough. You may go looking for rookery's once finished with this book. One of the best bird books out there. The guy knows his stuff.
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an evocative, poetic meditation on (mostly) rooks and jackdaws, but also the other corvids, especially in the author's home of Norfolk (the Yare Valley). Beautiful - particularly if you like this family of birds, as I do.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Should be called Mark Cocker country. I thought it would have more about crows. Foolish me :)
Helen Black
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Good but not about crows! All about rooks which was a bit disappointing for me!
Marcus Wilson
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Nicely written personal account on rooks. It isn't scientific which is good and contains some lovely bits of information.
Shawn Thrasher
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was not what I wanted it to be. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book: it’s well written, if a bit slow going towards the end. But it just never clicked for me.
Ruth Brumby
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mark Cocker 'Crow Country'
Occasional clumsy English as in, "I'm under no illusion that this is place long beaten down by decades of agricultural usage and modification..." where I think he means the opposite; some excessively 'poetic' writing; occasionally odd use of words, e.g. 'lupine' having apparently nothing to do with any of its meanings that I can find; a tendency to use too many 'high faulting' words where a few simple ones would be more effective. However mostly just beautiful sentences
Andrew Cox
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I have read a lot of nature books which have delighted me & there were certainly passages in this book. After I had read it I had a holiday in Port Patrick in SW Scotland & witnessed a huge number of jackdaws & rooks flying to their roost. It was fantastic & the cacophony of noise was incredible. I was looking out for this because I had read this.
However it did not all fit together & although it probably shouldn't bother me I was annoyed that the book was called "Crow" countr
Debbie Walker
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting natural history read about the behaviour of crows. When I picked up this book I wasn't aware it was a natural history book, mistaken and pleasantly suprised I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have learned a great deal from this book. Next to our tent on holiday some common sparrows came back each evening to a roost in some laburnaham bushes, there were 100's of them, what a racket each evening and morning but I could see some of the behaviours observed with crows in the book with our spar ...more
David McLaughlin
Having always been a fan of corvids I hoped this book would give me more detail about their lives. I have to say it gave a lot more than that. Mark Cocker takes rooks and jackdaws to a whole new level. His insights into the social lives of rooks, the make up of their societies and the interrelationships is not only instructive but inspiring. After reading the book I have started looking at these birds in a whole new way. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in birds or natur ...more
Justin Hill
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've got a rookery on the property, and they've caught my attention, so I wanted to find out more about them. Surprisingly few books on rooks, it seems. A few nuggets in there, amongst a lot of padding.
This is a solid account of the author and rooks - very journalistic so effective, without being very inspiring. 3.5 stars

Jul 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
though there were some bits about complex crow behaviour i skimmed through, there are some lovely descriptions of magical moments in nature that reminded me of the amazing things i have seen in the past and how much they meant to me. As someone who does not get out into nature as much as i would like, it was a lovely experience to be taken there.
Lab Cat
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-history
I enjoyed learning about rooks and about the author's adventures when exploring. The book was slow going in the middle and I nearly gave up. It was worth preserving to read more about why rooks and other birds roost.
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked it.
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“Why is it that people who are absorbed by something are seen as sad? I can't explain it, but for me it reverses the true state of affairs. To be engaged is to be a part, to be absorbed and fulfilled. To be cool, to be detached from things and to have no passionate feelings is the real sadness. At the heart of depression, that quintessentially modern malaise, is a deep sense of separation from the rest of life.” 0 likes
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