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What The Robin Knows by Jon Young - Book review

What the Robin Knows - Jon Young - Book reviewAuthor Jon Young opens your mind and awareness to the elusive world of birds communications within their families and community groups. Birder Jon Young is a naturalist with training in tracking by expert Shamans. He brings his wealth of knowledge into the study of listening to the birds, following their movements to understand the events and activities in their lives.

With delightful stories and clear step by step examples he takes the novice through a journey of discovery of bird songs, vocalisations, their motivations behind their patterns of movements and their alarm calls. Young does not just describe the birds activities but explains the importance each of these plays in their complex lives and how people can connect with them in non-intrusive way. Both experienced and novice readers who follow his advice and practice those steps will find their lives enriched with deeper connections to birds in nature.  

   

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Bird Brains by Candace Savage - Book Review

Corvids are revered in many indigenous cultures and admired for their intelligence and wisdom. Yet, the phrases ‘bird brains’ and ‘feather brains’ often used derogatively emerged based on the incorrect assumption that birds are dumb, unthinking and unfeeling creatures.

Renowned author of natural history Candace Savage distils some of the incredible abilities of the corvids discovered by researchers and presents them in this beautiful book with over 60 spectacular photographs by the top international photographers.

In one experiment, for instance, a raven was given the task of identifying the odd-shaped object in an array of six otherwise identical items. Its performance put it on par with gorillas and chimps, our own species’ closest relatives.” (p 18, The Secret of their Success)

In one short summer season, a single nutcracker is estimated to cache between 22,000 and 33,000 sees in up to 7,500 different places. To survive the winter and spring, it must recover about a third of these tiny reserves, all of which are buried in loose soil. Although most caches are made on windswept ridges or south-facing slopes where the snow cover is light, nutccrackers have been known to unearth caches from drifts that lie hip deep.” (p 120, The Nutcracker Never Forgets).

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Gifts of The Crow by John Marzluff and Tony Angell

In Indian legends crows are considered to be one of the most intelligent of birds. So I was quite surprised to discover when I first came to Australia the late seventies that in western culture of that time, birds (and other animals) were not considered to have consciousness and cognitive abilities. In our backyard the crows do not mind that the magpies, butcherbirds and noisy-miners take priority over them. They have repeatedly shown themselves to be sensitive, attentive to our feelings, sympathetic, grateful and funny birds.

I was delighted to read John Marzluff and Tony Angell’s book The Gift of the Crow. Marzluff is a professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington and has authored four books and hundreds of papers on bird behaviour. Tony Angell is has authored and illustrated numerous award winning books on natural history.

The book covers two major aspects of Crow behaviour. Firstly in great detail the authors describe the findings of research done on crows with regard to their abilities to communicate with language, play and frolic, indulge in delinquent behaviour, act with passion, take risks and display an awareness that most people have mistakenly assumed to be beyond the capabilities of birds.

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Easter With The Birds

By Leah Lemieux

Over the long Easter weekend, I decided to visit my wild bird friends by the lake in Albert Park.  To celebrate, I brought some tasty raw nuts for my friends and something special.
Ravens
The family of magpies, attended by the usual pair of magpie larks and noisy miners greeted me and enthusiastically accepted the nuts and morning greetings I offered.  After the magpies had their fill, my two favourite ravens came over to see me.  They are both very large for little ravens and were the first birds to accept my overtures at friendship, so they always hold a very special place in my heart.  They are very beautiful and I always tell them so and admire their grace, humour and beauty.
 
    Because it was Easter, I brought them a very special treat--a hard boiled egg.  I rolled it over to the male raven (who I affectionately think of as Karasu, which is Japanese for crow).  Now, I know, in the bird world, no one ever hands over an egg--rather they are guarded carefully.  So Karasu looked like he couldn't believe his eyes.  Other members of the flock (around 15 or so of different ages) looked on with interest.  I insisted this gift was for him and his mate to have. Finally, he stepped forward, keeping an eye fixed on me and tested the egg's weight and consistency with his bill.  I wondered if he would spirit it away to cashe some place and eat it all himself, or share with his mate.  
 
    Instead, he did something amazing.  
 
   Taking the egg in his bill, he leapt into the air, stroking powerfully up to about 20 feet up and then he threw the egg down on the turf.  The egg exploded into many pieces and then the whole flock of ravens settled down happily to the Easter feast--it was fantastic!  It was lovely to see that enjoying the gift I brought them was all about sharing the special treat with the group.

 

 
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Not All Farmers Hate Bats

by Yvonne Shaw from Bats Qld

red flying fox This little fellow was found hanging on a fence post by a farmer at Taroom in western QLD. He took him home and looked after him for 5 days, during which time the bat actually gained weight. The farmer’s aged parents were heading to Toowoomba (a 6 hour drive) and kindly took him with them. Carer Peter met them in Toowoomba and brought him home to join the other little reds. He is completely uninjured, so why he was quietly hanging on a fence post is a bit of a mystery. Anyway, a big thank you to Peter Mundell from Taroom!

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