Little known fact about myself: I have a favorite bird family, Corvidae. Particularly the genus corvus, which is composed of crows and ravens (though I would remiss not to include our friend the Jackdaw). You can check out Wiki’s list of corvus species if you’re interested. Moslty my infatuation with crows and raven extends from two main sources, norse mythology and fiction. Odin had his twin ravens Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), in Charles de Lint’s novel Someplace to be Flying the character Jack Daw was a collector of tales (and often accompanied by the strange Crow twins), in Steven Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates the Crow Clan is featured prominantly and in his other works the “Great Ravens” are featured as secondary characters, and in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series the Night’s Watch is tied closely to raven imagery (the Lord Commander even has a pet raven that speaks). The list goes on but the crow and the raven are staples in fantasy literature. What this is all leading to, of course, are a few interesting books on our black-feathered friends.

Ravensong: A Natural and Fabulous History of Ravens and Crows, by Catherine Feher-Elston. This book goes into the Native American ties to the crow and the raven while at the same time, according to Amazon’s description, ties this to recent ornithological research.

Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds, by Bernd Heinrich. This seems as much a personal narrative as a scientific study. The Amazon sight had some good comments from Publisher’s Weekly that made me want to read the book. This one also had the highest Amazon customer rating with the most customer reviews.

Bird Brains: The Intellegence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays, by Candace Savage. This one sounds a little more photograph heavy and certainly had less information in the Editorial comments, but might still be worth a look for a general overview of some members of the coridae family.

The American Crow and the Common Raven, by Lawrence Kilham. This seems to be the more traditional natural history study of crows and ravens. The few customer reviews seem impressed by the work though.

Crow, by Boria Sax. I think this one might get the prize for most intrigueing cover art, really simple but asceticly pleasing. This is another one that tackles both natural history and folklore/mythology

These books really only scratch the surface of corvid literature.

2 thoughts on “Birds…..

  1. Calvin

    Cool! I share the same fascination. Im planning on getting a tattoo of Hugin and Munin on my back, shoulder area, to represent not only my love of Odin, Ravens, and of course, George RR Martins series.

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