GIFTS OF THE CROW - An Interview with Author and Ornithologist John Marzluff

Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 06/11/2012

Several years ago Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein watched a crow delicately extract from a narrow paper bag a Subway sandwich that was lying in the gutter. Once the sandwich was free of its wrapper, the crow remained curbside, happily feasting on its prize. This observation gave Barbara a newfound fascination and respect for crows. As it turns out, the wily intelligence she witnessed that morning is a common attribute of crows and their corvid relatives: ravens, magpies and jays. Crows are not only extremely smart, they also have highly developed social skills, and it turns out, share many qualities with humans, which occasionally inspires interspecies communication between corvids and people. On this episode of Locus Focus we learn about our uniquely symbiotic relationship with crows as we find out what goes on in a crow's brain that makes them such fascinating creatures. Guest John Marzluff is author of a new book, Gifts of the Crow, that takes us on a tour of the corvid brain from perspectives of biology, chemistry and whimsy.

John Marzluff, PhD, is a professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington's School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. His research on corvids and birds of prey has benefited birds all over the world, from pinyon jays in Arizona, ravens in Greenland and golden eagles and prairie falcons in Idaho to Washington State's goshawks and the endangered Hawaiian hawk, one of the rarest birds in the world. He has conducted long-term studies of urbanization on songbirds in the Seattle area; responses of nest predators and songbirds to settlements, recreation and forest fragmentation on the Olympic Peninsula; and endangered species conservation. When he's not looking skyward, Dr. Marzluff enjoys fishing and dog-sledding.


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