The Wise Guys are in Your Backyard

We’ve all had encounters with the original Wise Guys…Crows and Ravens. The American Crow (along with the American Robin) are probably the first two birds we recognize as a child. Even adults who have no interest in birding will know a Crow (although many may mistake the large, solitary Raven as a Crow).

Like many “common” birds, I think Crows and Ravens don’t receive the admiration they deserve. Their frequency in our lives has lead many (most?) to take little notice of them, find them annoying, or worse still expendable. Yet, they are, in my opinion, a most remarkable and beautiful bird. Unlike 95% of all living birds (including some species of crow like fish crows and ravens), the American crow lives in what is termed “cooperative breeding”. Yes, the gang of crows you see on your front lawn are actually extended family members.

They are also toolmakers. The New Caledonian Crow made headlines when it was discovered that they were sophisticated toolmakers. To read more about the New Caledonian Crows and see the video of their toolmaking abilities, visit the Behavioural Ecology Research Group based at Oxford University:

For me, I remain enamored by crows. amcr1.gif

Collection Highlights:

Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys — Candace Savage 598.864 SAV A slim, fascinating read that will entertain, enlighten and inform you about crows and ravens. Don’t miss this one!

Originally published in 1917 by the University Society and then republished by the Garden City Publications in 1936, Birds of America is an often overlooked yet superb book on birds. What I especially enjoy about this book is its anecdotes. While most guides tell you only the vital statistics of a particular bird, Birds of America gives you that plus their thoughts and observations on the bird’s behavior. 598.2 BIR

Atlas of Breeding Birds in Connecticut — edited by Louis R. Bevier. 598.2 ATL Another fantastic guide, this book provides mapped information on where each bird breeds, status concerning threatened or endangered, habitat, and a general discussion.

Connecticut Birding Guide — Arnold Devine and Dwight Smith. 598.2 DEV This is an excellent guide with clear directions and maps on where to go birding in Connecticut.

–Ann Marie

Ann Marie is the Library Director at OWL.

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