Sunday, December 4, 2016

Crow Country, by Mark Cocker

Staff review by Chris Saliba

British naturalist Mark Cocker's classic on the life of crows.

First published in 2007, British naturalist Mark Cocker's Crow Country has received a handsome reissue from Vintage Classics. As part of the natural history series The Birds and the Bees, the Scottish design studio Timorous Beasties has created beautiful cover work, also featuring an inside flap with a lovely floral design.

When Mark Cocker moved into a new home in rural Norfolk he discovered a magnificent flock of rooks and jackdaws (members of the crow family) on their way to roost. This sighting started an obsession with the behaviour of crows. Cocker started observing crows at close quarters, tracking them at all times of the day and night.

In beautifully evocative prose, Cocker describes the sounds, social organisation, food gathering methods, roosting habits and flight paths of crows. Crow Country is also full of fascinating research, quoting poets (Shakespeare refers to rooks in Macbeth), naturalists and ornithologists. One rather amusing section quotes a long passage from a nineteenth century crow watcher who described their assemblies as akin to a parliament.

This is a fascinating short book that immerses the reader in the world of corvids (the technical term for crows), considered to be the most intelligent of birds. It will make you look at crows with renewed interest.     

Crow Country, by Mark Cocker. Published by Vintage Classics. ISBN: 9781784871123 RRP: $24.99

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