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Crow Planet, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Reviewed by Heather M. Mingo

In Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness, author Lyanda Lynn Haupt explores the relationship of humans and the more-than-human world from the perspective of the urban environment. Suitably, she focuses on crows in this exploration, for not only are crows one of the most familiar wild animals to humans around the world, but their populations are also increasing – a sign of the not-so-positive influence we have had on other species. ”Abundant crows are an emblem of rampant habitat destruction and of the creation of an earth that is inhospitable to all but a handful of the most resilient beings,” she writes.

Apart from that, crows are interesting in themselves. They are highly intelligent, have been known to use tools, and have a complex social structure. Reading Crow Planet, I learned about how they raise their young, how they communicate, and that they are unusual among songbirds (crows are technically classed as a songbird, even though they don’t sing) in that they walk rather than hop. I especially enjoyed reading about Haupt’s own encounters with crows, especially her description of the crows who seemed to be listening to (and enjoying) a live music concert, and her debates about whether or not to help an injured fledgling that she finds on the sidewalk. Although she fully admits that with the increase in crow populations “letting the crow die would probably be the most ecologically enlightened move”, she also recognizes that “once an injured crow has entered one’s sphere… the decision becomes more complicated.”

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