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Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays Paperback – June 2, 1997


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Frequently Bought Together

Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays + Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds + In the Company of Crows and Ravens
Price for all three: $40.97

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books (June 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871569566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871569561
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 9.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Now in paperback! Examines the lives and behaviors of the highly intelligent members of the crow family, corvids, and includes 61 dramatic images from the world's top nature photographers.

About the Author

Candace Savage is the author of numerous internationally acclaimed books of natural history, including The World of the Wolf, Wild Cats (Sierra Club, 1994) and Aurora: The Mysterious Northern Lights.

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Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this book and learning more about my favorite bird, the crow!
ACole
I would deem this one of those "coffee table" books that is hard to stop leafing through.
P. Campbell
This book has great pictures and is easy to read....informative without being textbook.
Penelope

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book has some interesting anecdotes on Crows, Ravens & Jays, and it does also describe much of the day to day life of these birds. The book is more than 50% full page photographs, and the photography is excellent. There are a few Brandenburg photos that have the Brandenburg touch, an animal filmed intimately close. But if you are trying to do reseach on animal intelligence, this book is too shallow for that. It glosses over some reseach and incidents that I've read about more thouroughly in other sources. I wanted to say but but there's more... or yes but that has only been observed in two locations. If you are looking for photography and some general knowledge on corvids, this is the book. If you are researching animal intelligence, try George Page for a solid introduction. I think the title is Animal Minds. And if you already know quite a bit about this subject, you know where to look better than I do.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Boffin on January 30, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book, simple as that. Yes, it is a coffee table-type book, but it's a great coffee table-type book. I became interested in corvids when a very young blue jay flew into my house one day only to discover that in flying into a human's home, there might be fat cats waiting to pounce. The Blue Jay ("Sky")learned quickly and never flew in again. He also learned which cat was the Hunter and which cat was the lazy cat. He avoids the Hunter at all costs, but knows the lazy one's habits so well, that he will brazenly drop down next to the comatose cat and hide his peanuts in the grass, just inches from the feline. Amazing. That's a form of identity branding, which means Sky has a mind. I also learned more about my neighborhood crows and why they'll engage in conversation with me every morning. Thanks to this book, I am indeed wiser regarding my local flying friends and will treat them with the respect they deserve.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Pearl Nancarrow on March 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is not the book to buy if you want to do any kind of research on corvids. It doesn't go into depth on any one of the family of corvidae. I had thought (mistakenly) that a book published by the venerated Sierra Club would have had more substance to it. The pictures are nice, though.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on December 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book consists of about half text and half glossy pictures of corvids (ravens, crows, magpies, and jays). The pictures are beautiful, and range from "posed" shots of individual birds to some action shots of corvids interacting with other animals. Savage is from Saskatchewan, so the pictures show these birds in all four seasons. Some additional pictures come from Europe or Siberia.

The text holds the book together but is not the focus of the book. Her central argument is that corvids are really smart, and she provides some anecdotes to that effect. The evidence is one-sided, but it's nonetheless true that corvids are smart. That said, the text is really beside the point in this beautiful book. If you want to know more about how smart these birds are, read Bernd Heinrich.

In short, it's a coffee-table book in soft cover. The pictures really are beautiful, and the text is beside the point. It seems unfair to criticize it, as some other reviewers do, for being superficial.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book has some of the most spectacular images of crows, ravens, and magpies that Ive ever seen. Some may come across this book searching for a scientific tome rather than a beautifully constructed photo oriented coffee table book. But even the most staunch scientific mind will appreciate the beauty of these pictures. Buy it, you wont regret anything.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Phillip J. Moore on October 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have long enjoyed watching crows. This book is helpful to show other people why I have found crows so fascinating. This not a heavy scientific read. It is lite but very enjoyable. If you like crows or want to know more about crows this is a good starting place. I have also found that kids enjoy this book.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 5, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Absolutely fascinating with both pictures and text. Leaves you wanting more. Shows concrete proof that corvids (especially ravens)are possibly one of the top three most intelligent species on the planet. Even if you can't possibly bring it in yourself to believe that, it's still a great book to read and use as a reference, especially if you are interested in drawing birds. The glimpses of the signifigance of corvids in religions, folklore and literature are eye-opening, but they are glimpses and not really fleshed out. It's a small quibble--this is one of the most beautiful AND thought-provoking books I own
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Valda Wells on July 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
A good part of my childhood was spent on an upstate New York farm. We had lots of corn and many other vegetables; many birds - and one extra-special crow. He quickly adopted us and often spoke to my uncle and me by name in my aunt's voice and exact intonations. The vegetable farm, barn, shop-garage, and chicken coop were at the top of a fairly steep hill and the house was at the bottom. Aunt Rose ruled the household; the crow ruled the farm area. Sometimes he would deliver small things up or down the hill. My uncle and I never tired of his antics and wisdom. We were happy to do the work orchestrated by the crow and I was ready for J. Allen Boone's work years in advance.

Bird Brains may not be the most scientific or even accurate book, but I bring it out any time I find a potentially interested visitor. Even now where I live in a fairly rural area of New York City - there are crows among my friends. They live in close quarters with several Cardinal families, near blue jays, and many smaller birds in a huge oak tree and smaller peripheral trees. Crows are gregarious and adjustable. They would no doubt be pleased with this book and see no reason to find fault.

If the book were about humans, would be as picky as we are about crows being correctly represented? Do we expect all humans to be alike? Equally smart with similar talents?
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