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Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys of the Avian World

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  557 ratings  ·  98 reviews
Who knew that crows are second only to humans as toolmakers and tool users, that they have complex family lives not unlike our own, and that their vocalizations resemble human languages? This witty, charming book introduces readers to these endlessly fascinating creatures. Author Candace Savage explores their evolution and basic biology, diet and food-gathering practices, ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published September 28th 2007 by Greystone Books (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  557 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Sep 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Fascinating anecdotes about this bird species…actually including crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, etc. Intelligence and how crows rate is the theme of this book. There are plenty of facets to explore and Savage does better with some than others.
"…. so far as anyone knows, neither arachnid nor insect nor mollusk ponders deeply before it responds, weighing the options and considering pros and cons."
I found myself drawn into her “world.”
"To live long and prosper, a social animal needs a full array o
Hákon Gunnarsson
Feb 15, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: birds, non-fiction
I like ravens, and as this book puts it very early on "what is a raven except a crow taken to the extreme?" I have always been fasinated by the species, perhaps because they are birds of Óðinn, perhaps because they are so black and clever. Whatever the reason, they have just always fascinated me.

This book explores this fascinating subject, crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, basically corvids of all kinds. It goes into intelligence, the use of tools for example, family relationships, and so on. I kn
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Here's the deal, people: crows are amazing. I could write a long review here, spewing my love for them, despite their loud caws outside my window at six-thirty on a Saturday morning. I could tell you all about their complex family and group dynamics, how they mate for life (even though the females are notoriously promiscuous), how they cache food and sparkly treasures, how they raid their fellow crows' caches, how they trick their fellow crows into thinking they're hiding their food and shiny tr ...more
Hilary "Fox"
This is a pleasant book about crows and ravens, full of anecdotes about the strange encounters that people often have with the species. Interspersed throughout fairly current scientific data about corvids - emotions they might feel, how they socialize, solve problems, create tools, and essentially form their own cultures - are myths and stories of how people have interacted with them over time. An interesting aspect of the book is that often the stories and myths hint at how well older cultures ...more
Dec 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For their size (which is how you measure this: the ratio of grey matter to body size overall) the brain of a raven is as large as that of a chimpanzee; and in fact, many people who have studied and lived alongside wild ravens for decades reckon they are more intelligent than chimpanzees. As for relationships, crows in particular are turning out to be intensely social animals, their extended families and networks resembling to a surprising degree those of elephants and, dare I say it, humans.
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys of the Avian World by Candace Savage is an engaging tribute to the multi-faceted crow. Relying on research and some fascinating anecdotes, Savage explores the tool-making and tool-using capabilities of crows, their intelligence, their ability to relay information to other crows (“crow language”), their trickery, their social interactions, and their family dynamics. Peppered liberally throughout the text are short myths and fables featuring crows and ravens, a ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable short non-fiction book about Crows, thought to be the smartest bird. Includes paintings, drawings & folklore tales about crows, ravens, & rooks.

My fascination with the corvid family of birds isn't with the crows, but with blue jays - close relatives. Books on just the blue jay subset are impossible to find, so I've focused on books featuring the larger corvid family.

Mr. & Mrs. Blue Jay live in the hedges in the neighbor's yard - have since I've lived here, 5 1/2 years. They hang out in
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a disappointment. It wasn't particularly bad or anything... I just wish there was more. Trivial facts about the corvids presented in the book were neat and interesting. Including myths and folklore associated with crows and ravens was a nice touch. The writing itself, though, was not very polished and the book lacked continuity between chapters.

I would be hesitant to pick up another book by Savage. This is too bad because I was really interested in her book Bird Brain. I think I wi
Saurabh Lahigude
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who notice crows
Shelves: 2017-fav, non-fiction
First of all, I love crows, I adore them.

So called certain events in my life led me to being locked out with no internet and this book. So I got to read this on the terrace while one such crow who hates me repeatedly kept shouting at me getting as close to me from all the directions he can and was eventually chased off by two such crows who knew me very well. During all this and bit of rain I couldn't help but notice few crows supporting his ruckus when he was around and some just came up to see
Travis Duke
A decent look into the world of the crow. The format of the book however is odd and detracts from the reading experience, it inserts small stories right in the middle of chapters. flipping a page in mid sentence sometimes will dump you in a random story from the author only to return to the original story pages later... I will say the book is easy to understand and the author does a good job on lightly toughing on certain subjects like communication, family, and intelligence. It is a very basic ...more
Adam Travis
Jul 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable book about our black feathered friends. Some of the anecdotal stories could have been better incorporated — I often found myself going back and forth in the book as I didn’t want to stop in the middle of one essay to read a poem — but everything was enjoyable. Overall left me with more appreciation for crows and ravens than I already had.
Prabhu R.
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wildlife, nature, birds
A great book about the most common bird that we get to ignore. We tend to forget about these beautiful birds that are quite witty and intelligent and have a society setup of their own that is similar to the humans. This book changes the perspective we have about these birds.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
The artsy layout of this book is actually quite distracting. Chapters are interrupted by art work and fables that are not clearly delineated.

A sparse volume. I'm looking for a much better look at these fascinating birds.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A delightful, beautifully illustrated introduction to the science and mythology of these amazing birds.
Paula Kirman
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
An entertaining, fast read about the intelligence and behaviours of crows and ravens.
This is a short and nicely-illustrated book filled with crow lore. I was expecting more about actual crows; there is some, but there's just as much folklore. I did not like how much ravens, crows, and other corvids were considered basically the same. Also, I've read several books on corvids, and I don't think I found anything new here (other than the folklore, which isn't what I wanted to read). It's more a coffee table book than ethology. ...more
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was such a delightful little book! I actually picked it up from the library a while back, but after reading Hollow Kingdom, it moved up on the TBR list. Full of folklore, beautiful art, and recent scientific discoveries about the brilliant corvid, it was an easily-handled little morsel of biological non-fiction.
Karrie Stewart
Apr 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book that packs in a lot of fun and interesting info about Crows and Ravens.
Joseph Rollins
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Informative source for fiction story I am working on
Eaton Hamilton
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
An attractive book with thick, artsy pages making it perfect for a casual dip. It roams through myth and crows in history and photographs. If you already know something about crows, I'd give this a pass, though, as it doesn't go into much detail. For instance, I would have loved to have heard more, much more, about the crows at the traffic lights in Japan--how did they happen upon this solution? How old are their young when they pass the knowledge along? Ditto for the ways crows attack people. T ...more
This is an enjoyable, highly abridged, account of corvids.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most interesting and entertaining non fiction books I've read in awhile. It's not long at 105 pages. Many of the pages are illustrations, plus there are illustrations sprinkled liberally through the book. I probably could have read this in one or two long sittings, but chose to read it a little at a time at night before I went to bed. The author has written and co-written quite a few books about the natural world although birds seem to be her thing. What she says about crows i ...more
Stephen Palmer
Oct 11, 2016 added it
Shelves: science
In this short work, various elements of science, observation, folklore and legend are woven together into a very enjoyable tapestry. The science is light, the observation is fascinating, and the folklore suggests kernels of truth about these fascinating and highly intelligent birds. Photographs, drawings and works of art illustrate the work. All in all, an enjoyable book.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
A beautiful book full of research, anecdotes, photos and artwork. Those wonderful birds usually known simply as crows and ravens really are very intelligent beings capable of so much more than most have imagined.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting information about crows. Sidebars and insets make it feel more like a coffee table book. Was pleased to see Professor Caffee's Oklahoma research noted. ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Any book I read about crows enhances my understanding and love for them. Nostalgically and sadly, I shared my life with a crow who would never be able to fly for reasons unknown to us. A mere eight years ago, my significant other and I crossed paths with a nestling crow that had either leaped out of his nest or been pushed out. I moved him out of the street where he came to rest and had been laying in the only available parking spot one balmy summer day. With much trepidation, I picked him up an ...more
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have fallen in love with crows. We have two families that come regularly to our feeders here in the Hiawatha National Forest. We have been observing them for 6 years. This summer, after learning to identify which family is here by the call of the female crow, after watching each mama crow come fir suet to store in her crop to take back to her babies, after watching crow families play hide and seek together in the trees, i was hungry for more information about these bright, hilarious birds. So ...more
Apr 07, 2022 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2022, non-fiction, nature
This is a book about crows, but not a very good one. The author herself has written better crow books (Bird Brains).

You know what drives me batty about this book? Instead of telling one story after another, she arranges some of them in the middle of others, so you have to keep flipping back and forth. For example, in the chapter Fellow Feeling - it starts on page 81. On pages 84-85 there's a piece called Quoth the Corvid. Fellow Feeling resumes on page 87, in mid-sentence. Another story starts
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short book about crows. 😲
Weirdly, I was just browsing a local library while waiting for an appointment, and grabbed this off the shelf.

What the heck? There are no crows in central or South America?!

I like the passion for these birds here and the stories of their intelligence, sociableness, and curiosity.
I think most humans don't appreciate animals to the degree they deserve... at least in early 21st Century culture.
When I read books like this, I want to spend more time in nature, observing
John Nancekivell
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
So far, really great. Wonderful drawings and photos. Trying to share on FB but site not liking that. I'm interacting with 2 distinct murders (I think), urban about 3 or 4 blox apart. My Public Gardens group (Halifax, NS) is a 7crow murder-must be a witch there. One female (I'm guessing-seems more trusting) has a damaged feather on right shoulder, which doesn't inhibit her. The murder outside my apartment is max 4... they're more tame as they have to interact with people, dogs, buses and cars whe ...more
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Nature Literature: Crows discussion 13 40 Feb 19, 2022 06:49AM  

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35 likes · 3 comments
“According to the ancient Greeks, the god Apollo banished the raven to the constellation Corvus after the bird tried to blame his own misdeeds on Hydra, the water serpent.” 0 likes
“For their size, crows are among the brainiest organisms on Earth, outclassing not only other birds (with the possible exception of parrots), but also most mammals.” 0 likes
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