Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Corvus: A Life with Birds

Crows, rooks, magpies, and ravens belong to the corvids, a family of birds that many people dislike for their jet black feathers, reputation for theft, and scavenging of carrion. Thought to be portents of evil, they have been used by poets, storytellers, and filmmakers to add suspense to their works. In some communities they have been shot, poisoned, and trapped as vermin. Few are ever raised as pets. Believing the corvids have been unfairly vilified, Scottish bird rescuer Esther Woolfson tells about adopting injured birds in Corvus: A Life with Birds.

Woolfson did not set out to become a corvid friend and advocate. Neighbors who knew that the author had a variety of indoor birds as well as a dovecott full of pigeons brought her abandoned chicks and injured adults found in their yards. Loving birds, despite misgivings, she took in these birds. Because most could never be reintroduced to the wild, her adoptions became life commitments. Luckily for her, she found her rook Chicken, her crow Ziki, and her magpie Spike to be good companions. They tore up papers, dug holes in walls, and splattered the carpets when excited, but Woolfson has never minded cleaning. Dogs can be as hard on a house. By dedicating specific rooms to birds, the author feels she has maintained a relatively normal home enriched with animal friends.

In Corvus: A Life with Birds, the author mixes her amusing stories and species insights with cultural and environmental history. Readers also get a nice tour of the countryside around Aberdeen, Scotland. Ornithological information may challenge some readers but Woolfson draws them in with her entertaining accounts of her bird encounters. For public and academic libraries.

Woolfson, Esther. Corvus: A Life with Birds. Counterpoint, 2009. ISBN 9781582434773

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