Read Crow Country by Mark Cocker Online


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 CockOne 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 Cocker a fixation and a way of life. Cocker goes in search of them, journeying from the cavernous, deadened heartland of South England to the hills of Dumfriesshire, experiencing spectacular failures alongside magical successes and epiphanies. Step by step he uncovers the complexities of the birds' inner lives, the unforeseen richness hidden in the raucous crow song he calls 'our landscape made audible'. Crow Country is a prose poem in a long tradition of English pastoral writing. It is also a reminder that 'Crow Country' is not 'ours': it is a landscape which we cohabit with thousands of other species, and these richly complex fellowships cannot be valued too highly...

Title : Crow Country
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780224076012
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Crow Country Reviews

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-01-03 22:32

    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 begins in the kind of landscape that I would think of as unpromising, rural Norfolk, where he focuses in on a raucous rook colony that roosts near his home. In the book this provides the entry point to explore the world of Rooks and Crows. Ravens are comparatively rare in the UK and so don't get as much of a look in. Crows are generally solitary or fly about in a family group. Rooks on the other hand are the gregarious birds of a feather who flock together and so from this book I learnt that where's there's a rook, that's a crow and where's there's crows, those are rooks.For me reading this has added to my appreciation of the landscape. A field crowded with black feathered birds grubbing around now has a meaning that it didn't have for me before and lodged in my memory is Cocker turning the corner on out of the way roads to find huge rook colonies cawing about in the trees.

  • Nikki
    2019-01-08 17:50

    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 their calls. It goes to show that you don’t just catch people’s interest with exotic birds: that there’s a lot of richness and mystery right under our noses.I liked that he included references to crows in literature and imagination, the word-of-mouth descriptions of events like a rook’s parliament, etc. He indicates where this does seem likely to be mythical, and likewise where it might be rooted in fact, so that overall you get an image of the bird as we imagine it as well as the real creature.I wonder if anyone who has read The Dark is Rising can read this book too without thinking about those attacking rooks, the birds of the Dark, and what Cocker would make of them…

  • sisterimapoet
    2018-12-22 22:32

    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 images within that I’ll never forget. Like the ones who sung for no other reason than that the end of a harsh winter was in sight.It now feels impossible not to feel thrilled when looking at the sky and noticing dark birds among the white.

  • Arun Divakar
    2019-01-09 23:47

    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 back from work a couple of days back that I noticed that there is a crow roost on a tree right in the middle of a crowded thoroughfare in my city. By the looks of it, they barely bat an eyelid at all the commotion happening on the ground below. Now take the life of this sturdy bird and add an impassioned British author to the mix and there where get to the ground of Mark Cocker’s book. His is a book length appreciation of the rook and the jackdaw which are prominent among Britain’s corvid population.This is not a book that lavishes a great deal of attention on the life of corvids, the focus is rather narrow as it restricts itself to the roosting behaviour of the birds. There was this time when I was driving along a road in rural Kerala during the late evening. The road was winding through rubber plantations with the occasional house dotting the landscape and as I come around a bend on the road, a sound like the murmur of a distant ocean comes in through the open windows. In a few seconds it becomes clearer as the clamour of crows roosting for the night. In the trees lining the roads was a roost the size of which I had not seen until then and while it was fascinating to look up at it all, I left pretty quickly to avoid turning the outside of the car to a gooey mess of droppings. The whole of this book is about evenings like this and also about the men and women who have set aside their lives for ornithology (especially around corvids). The author is obsessed with observing rooks and jackdaws and how they roost. He travels the length and breadth of rural England to observe and record what he sees. The book moves back and forth between the author’s present day obsession and the notes and observation by acclaimed ornithologists on rooks. There is within these pages a lot of anecdotal information (historic and otherwise) on the abundance of rooks and their lives entwined with humans. The impassioned observation by the author also means that he goes into the nitty-gritties of bird watching and quite so often I did come across various parts of the narrative wherein the obsession shines through clearly and at the expense of objectivity. I was looking for a book that went into the lives of corvids but then this was only about one aspect of their lives and not much more.Recommended if you like corvids else it is a drag.

  • Jason
    2019-01-09 00:57

    My reason for reading this book is that where I work we have a rookery at my place of work, it is quite small, I think about 200 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 is so much history of the birds included and even on the watchers themselves.I have learnt a lot in reading this book, I can now identify the birds and know some of the things they do. During the winter months I am looking forward to being at work as dusk arrives, I will be out watching to see them do their roosting flights.A fantastic book that I really enjoyed reading.

  • Rebecca
    2019-01-14 23:50

    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 comes up in Crow Country, which I found surprising for some reason. 4. I finished Copperfield weeks ago. :/ 5. I don't think birding is my thing, but I do love crows. I'm not a huge fan of Dickens, but I seem to read him at least once per year. Some things in this world are highly persistent.

  • Michael Livingston
    2018-12-31 20:36

    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.

  • Mila
    2019-01-19 22:52

    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 over their camp on their way to a rookery. Interestingly, in no place did the word "murder" come up. BBC Nature: Dawn and Dusk Spectacular* American crow Corvus brachyrhynchos Rook Corvus frugilegus Jackdaw Corvus monedula

  • Chris
    2019-01-06 19:37

    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 short paragraph from near the beginning of this 'meditation' includes much of what I loved about this book: the prose poetry in the language, the evocation of a moment in time and the willingness to share a worthy obsession. Mark Cocker describes himself as author, naturalist and environmental activist (in that order) but I liked the way he melded all those roles into a seamless whole in producing the eighteen chapters of this book. There's some autobiography here, there's also travel writing, science, historical perspective, literary allusions, potted biographies of contemporaries and predecessors who have laboured in this field. And yet he wears much of this learning and experience lightly, inviting the reader into the warm glow of campfire anecdotes mingling with facts and figures.Cocker's focus is the Norfolk Broads, in the triangle between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Beccles, with a bulge extending towards Lowestoft. The rivers Waveney and Yare, which flow together before heading to the sea at Great Yarmouth, have provided the habitat for birds of all descriptions for generations; probably many of these avian creatures have been here since the end of the Ice Age.The author's obsession with corvids -- rooks in particular -- is hugely satisfied by the presence of significant flocks of these sociable birds. He charts their ebb and flow, both daily from and back to their roosts as well as seasonally between roosts and rookeries where their young are raised. He discusses their habits, how they compare with roosts in Cornwall or Dumfriesshire, any similarity with other corvids such as ravens; he also credits other ornithologists, both professional and amateur, when they've added to the store of knowledge; and he details rook appearances in literature, folklore and popular culture. As an example of folk tradition merging with modern popular culture he even quotes from the lyrics of 'Rook', a song on rock band XTC's 1982 album Nonsuch (a record for which my violist daughter was a session musician): "Rook, rook / Read from your book / Who murders who and where is the treasure hid? ... Rook, rook / Gaze in the brook / If there's a secret can I be part of it?"One of things that endeared me to this reissue of Crow Country (first published nine years before) was the delightful and classy all-over fold-out cover Vintage Classics had commissioned from the Timorous Beasties studio to a design by Suzanne Dean: as well as a handsome rook it features plant tendrils, flowers and wildlife as could be found in, say, a Victorian naturalist's notebook. But it is what's within the covers that counts, and I for one was enlightened, entertained and enervated by what I read. You may be too.

  • Margaret
    2018-12-23 17:45

    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 about his new love, and engages his readers as he does so. A magical book.

  • Richard Howard
    2019-01-09 21:53

    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.

  • Adeptus Fringilla
    2019-01-14 23:53

    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

  • Mackay
    2019-01-02 00:02

    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.

  • Helen Black
    2019-01-10 00:42

    Good but not about crows! All about rooks which was a bit disappointing for me!

  • Marcus Wilson
    2019-01-14 21:57

    Nicely written personal account on rooks. It isn't scientific which is good and contains some lovely bits of information.

  • Ruth Brumby
    2018-12-22 21:59

    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 capturing the universal in the specific and conveying brilliantly one man's interaction with moments in the landscape. A book well worth reading and which I expect to re-read many times.

  • Andrew Cox
    2018-12-30 21:01

    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" country. I know rooks are corvids (the crow family) but they are not crows. Crows were hardly mentioned, this was about ROOKS.

  • Debbie Walker
    2018-12-26 22:40

    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 sparrow neighbours. Some lovely descriptive writing about birdlife and the natural environment focusing on an area in Norfolk.A recommended read and I will select a book of this kind again in future.

  • David McLaughlin
    2019-01-16 21:43

    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 nature and wants to take that interest to the next level.

  • Justin Hill
    2018-12-26 21:35

    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

  • Ashy
    2019-01-10 18:41

    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
    2018-12-24 21:37

    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.

  • Toffeeapple
    2018-12-21 22:37

    I liked it.

  • Phil Dean
    2019-01-15 21:43


  • Victoria Blake
    2018-12-30 22:43

    Mark Cocker writes beautifully and lyrically about crows and also Norfolk. Nature writing can get a bit 'lush' for my tastes sometimes but this book isn't. It was a real pleasure to read.

  • Malcolm Pinch
    2018-12-25 22:51

    An enjoyable read, maybe lost focus occasionally. Felt there was a better book trying to get out.

  • CAW
    2019-01-17 20:53

    Worth it for the information, but the man doesn't love his crows as birds, just as stuff. See

  • Kate
    2018-12-23 18:55

    Nicely written.

  • Louise Davy
    2019-01-11 19:36

    A fascinating and detailed account of a bird normally overlooked as just being part of the background.