Read Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays by Candace Savage Online


Birds have long been viewed as the archetypal featherbrains—beautiful but dumb. But according to naturalist Candace Savage, “bird brain,” as a pejorative expression, should be rendered obsolete by new research on the family of corvids: crows and their close relations.The ancients who regarded these remarkable birds as oracles, bringers of wisdom, or agents of vengeance werBirds have long been viewed as the archetypal featherbrains—beautiful but dumb. But according to naturalist Candace Savage, “bird brain,” as a pejorative expression, should be rendered obsolete by new research on the family of corvids: crows and their close relations.The ancients who regarded these remarkable birds as oracles, bringers of wisdom, or agents of vengeance were on the right track, for corvids appear to have powers of abstraction, memory, and creativity that put them on a par with many mammals, even higher primates. Bird Brains presents these bright, brassy, and surprisingly colorful birds in a remarkable collection of full-color, close-up photographs by some two dozen of the world’s best wildlife photographers.Savage’s lively, authoritative text describes the life and behavior of sixteen representative corvid species that inhabit North America and Europe. Drawing on recent research, she describes birds that recognize each other as individuals, call one another by “name,” remember and relocate thousands of hidden food caches, engage in true teamwork and purposeful play, and generally exhibit an extraordinary degree of sophistication....

Title : Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780871569561
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 144 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays Reviews

  • Carol.
    2019-06-10 14:11

    Bird-brain is by no means an insult. When I happened upon this book at the library, I was delighted by the potential mix of one of my passions, animal intelligence, and positive PR for a widely maligned species. Alas, then, when I discovered this book was heavy on the pictures, light on the intelligence studies--none of the three studies most widely publicized studies I knew of concerning crow intelligence were mentioned.Despite pretensions at erudition, this is clearly a coffee-table book. Bird Brains contains beautiful pictures, lovely quotes, bits of folklore and mythology. Oh yes, and alliterative cleverness in the form of the title and table of contents ('Brainy Birds,' 'Beginnings,' 'Belonging,' 'Bread and Butter Issues'). Oy. Organization is jumbled, with full-page pictures and sidebar quotes breaking up the writing almost every other page. Photos clearly show the Sierra Club publishing heritage--the photos are gorgeous and detailed, and without doubt calendar-worthy. Overall, however, it is heavier on the gloss than information. Much of the material is general biology related, educating the reader about nesting, growth, and foraging. Studies mentioned are usually in context of 'natural' behavior, or birds reacting and adapting to environmental changes such as selection of nesting sites by experienced birds.Ideally, it would have contained more science about 'intelligence' and less description and analysis of 'natural' behaviors. Want to know just how smart crows and corvids are? Check out these studies:The first comes from a fortunate accident in the midst of studying crow selection of tools. Tool-use was originally considered one of the distinguishing characteristics of human intelligence, but when we discovered other species use objects/tools, we added the caveat of tool creation. A pair of crows were given access to two tools, one wire with a hook at the end and the other a straight wire. Their favorite treat was then hidden beneath a bell-like container with a loop at the top. The male used the hooked wire, obtained his treat, and being male, flew off with his tool. The female, left frustrated without a useable tool, took the straight wire and made a hook at the end. Here was an example of a crow fashioning a tool out of a material she had never used-–she had only used pipecleaners over a year before this study.Video of the crow using a hooked wire to access treats: seem to have a knack for thwarting researchers’ aims. Once again, study innovation resulted from accidental findings. As part of a 5 year study, scientists trapped and banded baby crows in the area. Every year the researchers came back, they found themselves dive-bombed and attacked by a flock of angry crows, even ones that had nothing to do with the banding. Wondering at how unfamiliar crows learned that the researchers were 'dangerous' turned into another study examining facial recognition. This time researchers did the banding wearing masks--a caveman and a Dick Cheney mask (the primary researcher is not without humor). Crows reacted more strongly when re-exposed to the caveman mask, the one used for the banding/crownapping behavior. Then, when new people wore the masks while walking in the area, not even attempting threatening behavior, the crows responded with warning cries and mobbing behavior. The author theorizes the crows are teaching other crows in their flocks, and long-term studies seem to bear it out–Marzluff reports 47 of 53 crows seen reacted to him on a recent walk when he wore one of the banding masks.The final interesting study has been surrounded by some controversy, and research clouded by anecdotal reports. Crows are one of at least three avian species that know how to break open food sources by dropping them from heights. Urban stories exist of them using cars as part of the process, even garnering a mention in an Attenborough production: However, a study analyzing reports of such behavior in California do not prove reliance on cars, only use of the 'dropping' method. It is worth noting, however, that apparently they vary heights based on food type, a highly complex and learned behavior.Upshot? Looking for a sophisticated discussion of corvid intelligence, this likely would not be your best bet. However, it is a decent introduction to crow behavior that would appeal to the highly visual reader.***************************************For my science-geek readers, the original article on crows and tool use is at free NYT article on facial recognition: scholarly article on facial recognition: article on nut-dropping:

  • R K
    2019-06-11 11:54

    Nice book. Great introduction to the Corvidae family. The pictures, however, were stunning! I'm not sure if the author was the one who took them but they are so beautiful, I was tempted to hang them in my room, but alas, it's a library book.....

  • Ladiibbug
    2019-06-18 05:54

    Non-FictionCorvidae, or corvids, is the scientific name for a group of birds which includes ravens, crows, jays, magpies, jackdaws, and rooks. When this book was published in 1995, "there were 103 species of these crow-like birds in the world, though only forty of them qualify as "true crows" (p. 4).With 122 pages total, including a significant number of superb photographs of various corvids, this is a quick read and does a fine job of packing lots of facts into its pages. The photos of the various species in full color are some of the finest bird photos I've ever seen. The information obtained through the studies and/or books of others is generously credited.This was my first look at a photo of a green jay (bright blue cap, black neck, yellow upper chest gradually turning to light green, back and wings a colorful medium green). The gray jay, aka Canada jay, whisky-jack, meat-bird, moose-bird and camp-robber, is another new to me species of corvid.Being an avid backyard bird lover with feeders and birdbaths year-round, enjoying the the variety of birds in my yard is a big part of my life. The smooth headed Scrub Jay is my favorite. I've spent 20+ years observing these smart and entertaining birds, watched the process of the parents gathering materials each spring for a nest, watching the male gather food to take to the mother in the nest, the first sounds of the baby birds, and the early attempts escorting their goofy and uncoordinated babies to the safe places to find food and water.Corvids are considered to be the most intelligent family of birds. I didn't know this 20 years ago living in Southern California when I put up my first bird bath and began feeding birds. The scrub jays were comical and fascinated me. One day instead of putting peanuts on the fence rail as usual, I threw them on top of a large shed the jays flew over. He/she found them on the first "fly in". I began changing the peanut location every day when the birds were not around and loved watching them do fly-overs and hunt for them. I even put holes in peanut shells, strung them together and hung them from a branch, so the bird would have to grab the peanut while he/she was in the air. They seemed to like the little challenges, and I developed a deep affection for them.For the most avid corvid fan, I would highly recommend Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds by Bernd Heinrich.

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-31 07:49

    A must-read for anyone interested in birds, including younger folk. Easy to read but very informative.I really liked this author's more recent book on crows, so I knew I had to read this one too. She has distilled information from many different sources into a very enjoyable, easily understood book. This is a great overview of various aspects of life as a member of the crow (Corvidae) family. It's full of beautiful full color photos from around the world. Some of these birds are so delicate and exquisitely colored that you'd never think they're related to crows and ravens, but they are. And they have similar behaviors and intelligence levels as well. I especially enjoyed the part about the birds that use teamwork to steal food from other animals. Also the brief discussion about their capacity for altruism within their own species.

  • David
    2019-06-13 13:49

    I'm quite partial to crows and ravens. Perhaps it's that I'm consistently sorted into Ravenclaw. Or that my Scots clan has for their war banner a raven in flight. After encountering a description of this writer's other work, this was what I could find by her in our local library.It wasn't quite what I expected. It's got pictures. Lots of pictures, being that it's a coffee table book and all.Honestly, though, that's the best format for this kind of book. Lovely images of most of the world's corvids, coupled with Savage's carefully researched and substantive descriptions of their unique intelligence and social natures.Fascinating and thought provoking.

  • Orion
    2019-06-16 10:48

    This is a wonderful summary of the latest findings and theories on Corvidae behavior and intelligence. I read the book because I wanted to find out why crows acted the way they do and have come away with a deep appreciation for this wonderful family of birds. In addition to the fabulous text, the book is filled with large, gorgeous pictures that are awesome. This must be read by anyone interested in birds.

  • Megan
    2019-06-11 10:02

    A quick read on the studies and observations on corvids. Easy to read through because it contains LOTS of pictures. If you're like me and a little bird obsessed (and capable of researching on your own) you probably already know everything this book is going to say, or almost. I'd still say it's worth reading through. I picked up a few things of interest. * This book is written from a heavy evolutionary slant. It also hints at fallacies in the Bible.

  • Jennifer
    2019-06-21 06:03

    Beautiful photos of the corvidae family. This book is made for the coffee table. From a biology perspective it probably needs a little updating, but it's a good summary of bird behavior.

  • Rick
    2019-06-04 06:15

    Pretty Bird Picture Book for Bird BrainsThe book was over written, reminding me of students padding book reports with sentences to achieve a required length of an assignment. It relies heavily on conjecture and offers little if any conviction. Take this quotation found near the end of the book which starts with a firm grip of the obvious, "Over the millennia, each species of corvid has developed the mental abilities it needed to meet life's challenges”, and continues with the author’s unsupported supposition, “How these abilities compare from species to species -- and how the intelligence of corvids compares with that of other birds -- remains to be seen and finishes with little conviction to support her own premise, “Perhaps all birds are smarter than we are used to thinking. In the end, being called a bird brain may be a compliment.”Here is my interpretation of the above quotations and the premise of this book. Species adapt to survive. How their abilities and intelligence compare won’t be covered here, but they might be smarter than we think, so don’t worry about being labeled a bird brain.As the cover would suggest, I thought the book was an investigation into the brains of birds and their intelligence, but in large part the book is about the author’s supposition about the cleverness of birds, peppered with observations from other writers and investigators. It is a picture book that sat on my shelf for over ten years (I discovered a bookmark a quarter of the way in, where I had abandoned it all those years ago), and I can now relinquish this awkwardly sized book to the virtual “have read” shelf, and make space for something more favorable on my corporeal bookshelf.

  • Urszula
    2019-05-29 08:11

    Bardzo ładnie wydana książeczka popularnonaukowa, która zbiera skromne dane na temat inteligencji krukowatych. Napisana ostrożnie, bez antropomorfizacji, wskazująca na niewielki poziom wiedzy jakim dysponujemy na temat mentalnych zdolności tych zwierząt. Wydana w formie albumu ze zdjęciami świetnie nada się na prezent dla młodszych czytelników. Minusem są trochę przypadkowe zdjęcia (choć niektóre bardzo ładne), tym samym brak fotografii odnoszących się do opisywanych eksperymentów i czynności. Sporo ciekawostek, które możemy sprawdzić obserwując zamieszkujące w pobliżu kawki czy gawrony.

  • Dominique
    2019-06-15 07:49

    Candace Savage has written two books about crows, and I cannot say have been really impressed with either book. I found this specific book to have a lot of filler without a lot of substance. This book does have a lot of nice pictures.If you actually want to learn something about crows, check out a book called In the Company of Crows and Ravens.

  • Brice Fuqua
    2019-06-20 10:59

    This book summarizes the research on the intelligence of the Corvadie family. Long considered among the most intelligent of birds, the corvadids show surprising problem solving skills as well as a remarkable memory and ability to learn. The main appeal; of this book, though, is the many, beautiful, full-color photographs.

  • Chrissy
    2019-06-09 10:05

    A coffee-table book I mistakenly ordered. Pictures were attractive, some stories about the family new to me. All in all, 25.00 for the pretty factor maybe, but big, new discovery? Meh. Not so much. Didn't learn anything new.

  • Patricia
    2019-06-02 11:14

    Interesting book about the corvid family of birds that included crows, ravens and jays.

  • James Biser
    2019-06-04 11:56

    This is one of the best books to be read about bird behavior and intelligence. It leaves me excited to find projects of study within the Crow family. Knowing how social Magpies are, I am sure there are some opportunities looking into the details and structure of their "language.

  • Rena Sherwood
    2019-06-16 11:04

    Once upon a time in the 1990s, I lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. One day there was the most magnificent murder I ever saw -- a murder of crows, that is. Hundreds (or was it thousands?) of the inky black birds roosted in the small grove of trees behind the shopping center across the street from Park City Mall. I'd sit in the car and stare at them. Nothing but clouds of black birds rising and falling from the branches from side to side all across the sky. In a week or so, they were gone.So I became a fan of corvids -- the bird family that includes crows.This is my favorite book about ravens or crows. Granted, I only read a baker's dozen or so books about crows and ravens (fact and fiction -- not counting The Crow comic book and movie) but still, there's not many choices out there for corvid lovers. Despite their brains and beauty there's just not many books available on them as there are for dogs, horses or whales.Why love corvids? Why NOT? And if you don't, you may get in trouble.This particular corvid book looks at a wide variety of the corvid-centered universe. Not only does it include great photos and art reproductions, but also goes into detail about corvid behavior and quirks. It also touches on myths and superstitions about corvids. It was once thought that crows and ravens could fly between worlds. It's hard to read a book like this and not think that they don't.

  • Baca
    2019-06-03 11:00

    This book is gorgeous. When I get around to it, I will purchase a second copy to dissect for its art. Gibson covers the bird as inspiration for writing, art, travel, study...across centuries. The publishing job is fantastic. The weight of the paper, colors and typeface are all as gorgeous as the images and writing he selected.

  • Kate
    2019-05-30 07:03

    "Birds have long been considered the archetypal featherheads, beautiful but dumb. Members of the crow family (corvids), however, appear to have powers of abstraction, memory, and creativity that put them on a par with many mammals -- even higher primates. Bird Brains present these bright, brassy, and surprisingly colorful birds in a remarkable collection of full-color, close-up photographs by more than two dozen of the world's best wildlife photographers."~~back coverA cross between a coffee table book and a layman's treatise on the attributes and characteristics of the corvidae. I'm really into ravens, so I already knew some of the facts presented in the book, but I also learned things I didn't know: i.e., I didn't know jays were corvids.Corvids are fascinating birds, and well worth reading about. And the photos are breath-taking.

  • Carry
    2019-06-05 06:48

    This book was a pleasure to read. It read fluently, and everything was explained clearly. The book was enriched with beautiful pictures and funny ancedotes/stories. From page one right up until the end the book captured my interested, and I was a little disappointed there wasn't more. While I have learnt quite a bit about these clever birds, I'm still left wanting more. Maybe because I have found corvids fascinating for a very long time, or perhaps the book didn't dive enough into specifics and details. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the intelligence of corvids. If you're already rather familiar with these birds, this might be a bit too basic for you, but the great pictures and beautiful lay-out of the books will still make it a great addition to any personal library!

  • Ryan Mishap
    2019-05-28 10:52

    A look at the intelligence of corvids the subtitle promised, but this isn’t an academic work: published by Sierra Club Books, this is filled with gorgeous photos of everybody’s favorite birds. The text mainly concerns itself with referencing studies, observations, and anecdotal stories to suggest that corvids have intelligence. The most valuable aspect of this book is its argument against a mechanistic view of animals as instinctual automatons. Most of us know animals are beings, but science hasn’t caught up. The addition of various folk tales about corvids that fill the margins was a nice touch. It got an extra star for the gorgeous pictures.

  • Katey
    2019-06-15 08:09

    It's more or less a coffee table book. Really not too much in-depth information and wide page margins, big font, and generous line spacing. It was published in 1995, so it lacks much of the more interesting data about corvids that is more recent. The pictures are nice and all, but I'd rather have a book with more substance, and skimming info about the whole family corvidae made it a little scattered.

  • Cheri
    2019-06-11 13:49

    Interesting information, more amazing photography choices like the other book I read of hers recently. Kind of wanted more in-depth. Good and worthwhile read overall. If I had started with her books, rather than reading Marzluff himself, I probably would have enjoyed them more. It's hard to go back to the basics, so to speak, and read someone who's citing someone you've already read a lot from.

  • Jennifer
    2019-06-12 11:58

    I find crows very interesting, they are smart and have personalities and appear to like jokes. I learned a few new things about them in this book BUT I do not really care about looking at pictures of them and this is a lot of admittedly beautiful photos I just can’t be bothered with that sort of thing.

  • Sher
    2019-06-06 13:10

    Book 35 2012 Reading ChallengeTerrific full page illustrations of corvids around the world. I enjoyed seeing birds from other parts of the world: green jays, Siberian Jays, Gray Jays, Eurasian Jay...The text is a mix of scientific findings and personal anecdotes from people who have had captive corvids.

  • David R.
    2019-06-25 08:11

    Light reading on the Corvids. This one is definitely more of an introduction to the subject as opposed to a deep and insightful account of behavior. Put another way, there is a very high photo-to-text ratio and I put the book away in less than ninety minutes. The photos are wonderful, by the way.

  • Diane
    2019-06-26 07:46

    This was another coffee table book I picked up at the library. It turned out to be a enlightening book about the corvids, their intelligence, personalities, and behaviors. Loved it. Loved the beautiful pictures. Love the occasional magpies and crows that visit my yard. Since reading this book, I'll be more attuned to their behavior, and watch for signs of their great intelligence.

  • Tim
    2019-06-03 07:07

    Crows may be annoying, but they're part of a very intelligent family of birds. This book is a pleasurable presentation of the bird's behavior and appearance through story, scientific study, and photography.

  • Kristine
    2019-06-09 12:13

    I didn't expect this book to be so slender. It's more of a coffee table book with excellent pictures. I think it would hard to write a bad book about corvids as they're so intelligent and entertaining.

  • Jackie
    2019-06-18 07:53

    I have read quite a few books on bird behavior. This one is a good overview for the uninitiated, and has great photos. I liked the inclusion of some of the myths about various corvids. Mankind has been fascinated with their intelligence for a long time.

  • Justwinter
    2019-06-01 09:06

    I've heard this book is about 50% photographs of these beautiful birds--and a little light on information. I'm hoping it'll be half as good as Extraordinary Pigeons, a book I boorishly force upon my friends as circumstance allows.