Review Of "Bird Brains: The Intelligence Of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, And Jays" By C. Savage

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This volume is both handsome enough to be in the "coffee table" book category and sufficiently informative to serve as a useful bibliographic source on birds of the crow family (Corvidae). The large-format, superb photographs are familiar to collectors of Sierra Club books, but the scientific content of the writing is considerably above other, similar volumes. The behavior of crows, ravens, jays, and their relatives is described in accurate but nontechnical terms, with marginal quotes from a wide range of folklore. Topics covered include taxonomy, measures of intelligence, relative performance of primates and birds, instinct versus learning, development of behavior, cooperative breeding and hunting, optimal foraging, vocalizations, social behavior, and play. A six-page list of references provides access to the primary literature, and there is a useful index. The primary use of this book will be as a visually rewarding introduction to animal, especially bird, intelligence for general readers and for students from middle school through college. More advanced libraries in the social and natural sciences may find it a worthwhile purchase for those not familiar with this rapidly expanding field of ornithology. All levels.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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