The Raven: A Natural History in Britain and Ireland (T & AD Poyser)

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9780856610905: The Raven: A Natural History in Britain and Ireland (T & AD Poyser)
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Well-known throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the Raven has a prominent place in myth, legend, and history. The Raven: A Natural History in Britain and Ireland presents a thorough summary of the current state of knowledge regarding the Raven's natural history, describing its present distribution, habitat requirements, calls, feeding habits, social behavior, and population centers. The text focuses on the Raven's ecology in the U.K., but is of interest worldwide to both amateurs and professionals. It contains useful comparisons of the Northern Hemisphere species. Brought to life through beautiful detailed illustrations, maps, and tables, this book a valuable study on one of the most spectacular and romantic of British birds.

Key Features
* Provides a rare glimpse into Raven ecology/biology in the U.K.
* Features beautiful illustrations, along with useful maps and tables
* Emphasizes the long association of the bird with humans
* Contains current information on feeding habits, breeding, territorialism, intelligence, and distribution

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From the Back Cover:

The Raven is one of the most spectacular and romantic of British birds, but relatively neglected in the modern literature of ornithology. Derek Ratcliffe here presents a thorough summary of our knowledge of its natural history, emphasizing the long association of the bird with humankind.
The place of the Raven in myth, legend and history is long established, and this book describes the bird's fall from grace as a valued scavenger in medieval cities to a persecuted outcast in the modern wilds. The previous wide occurrence of Ravens is reviewed against the relationships between their present distribution, status and habitat requirements, as both a nesting and a non-breeding resident. The dependence of Ravens on carrion (especially sheep) within an omnivorous diet is the key to the species' ecology, and its social behaviour has evolved in close relation to this lifestyle.
The flocking and communal roosting of non-breeders are major features of Raven behaviour, while their nesting habts emphasize the territorial nature of breeding birds and their adaptation to secure but harsh environments. Raven numbers vary in relation to their food supply, local populations adjusting accordingly, although the precise mechanism involved is still obscure.
Ravens have a considerable capacity for recolonising old haunts when suitable conditions are restored, as well as exploiting new areas where the habitat becomes favourable, and there are local success stories to tell. Nationwide, however, the species' position is delicately balanced and depends on both sympathetic land management practices and improving attitudes to Ravens as friends not foe. Worldwide, Ravens are one of the most successful of all bird groups, occurring over a large part of the northern hemisphere, and replaced in some southern and tropical regions by other raven species which exploit the familiar Raven niche in their own environments. The discussion of the northern hemisphere species is enlivened by reference to other species where useful. Finally, the Raven's age-old reputation for high intelligence is weighed critically against the available evidence.
The text is brought to life through wonderful illustrations by Chris Roe.
Today, Ravens carry a new omen in the modern world, as a barometer of goodwill to wildlife. Like those in the Tower of London, the continued existence of Ravens in our wild countryside will reveal something about both our current situation and our prospects for the future.

Review:

"It is the sort of bird book I particularly enjoy because a fresh wind blows through much of it, showing the author to be what a writer about ravens should be-an acute observer."
--THE GUARDIAN
"Powerful illustrations complement writing of real insight into these formidable, yet playful, birds."
--NEW SCIENTIST
"It is obvious that much research has gone into this book... Do buy this excellent book and read it."
--CAMBRIAN ORNITHOLOGY SOCIETY Bulletin No. 112
"Derek Ratcliffe has an enthusiasm that shines through the pages of his latest book. The text is supported by extensive appendices and tables, crammed with data and facts; serious matters of behaviour and ecology are addressed; but the presentation is constantly enlivened by anecdote. This is a book about real birds, not textbook abstractions. As such it is a joy to read as well as a valuable contribution to ornithology."
--HABITAT
"I found Derek Ratcliffe's style very easy to read... Highly recommended."
--BIRDWATCH
"(Ratcliffe) presents a comprehensive and historical picture of this once common town scavenger."
--BIRDING WORLD
"The personal approach by the author is refreshing and his administration for the raven is evident throughout the very readable text."
--HIGHLAND NEWS GROUP
"This is Derek Ratcliffe's second book in the highly acclaimed Poyser series. This book is refreshingly different. It is easy to read and has some of the best line-drawings I've seen, works of are in their own right."
--BES BULLETIN
"The two monographs I enjoyed best both featured birds which have caught the attention of man since the earliest of times, and which have been featured in myths and legends ever since, The Raven and The Golden Eagle are both scholarly but easy to read with the latter having the bonus of some wonderfully evocative line drawings and paintings."
--BIRD WATCHING BOOK AWARDS 1997
"If you doubt that the Raven deserves a book to itself, just read the first chapter of his splendid new monograph. It surpasses even the usual high Poyser standard we have come to expect."
--BTO NEWS
"This scholarly work contains just about everything that is currently known about the Raven and is written in a style which makes the mass of information easily read and understood. Well illustrated by dramatic photographs by Chris Rose, this book will appeal to anyone who has even the slightest interest in this, perhaps the most fascinating, member of the crow family."
--DORSET WILDLIFE MAGAZINE
"This book is exciting and stimulating because it not only summarizes what is known but also points out problems and aspects of the Raven which are not yet properly understood. This is an admirable book written by a great naturalist and competent scientist, fascinating in its modesty from the first page to the last. It can he highly recommended not only to corvid specialists but to everybody who enjoys fieldwork and reading about discoveries and insights of curious naturalists."
--IBIS
"Few writers have captured all aspects of the raven in a single volume as personally and accurately as Derek Ratcliffe does in thus wonderfully informative book. His passion allows readers to take a raven's eye view into the behavioural and population ecology of one of the world's greatest birds."
--CONDOR

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Published by T & A D Poyser, London (1997)
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