A year or two back I bought the book Corvus - A Life with Birds by Esther Woolfson (Granta), for my son Tom, since we've always shared a joy in watching birds in the garden. I'd heard extracts from the book read on BBC Radio 4 while driving. I recently borrowed it from Tom, and found it a rich, enjoyable read. I was amused and delighted, but also informed - perfect result. This is what I like best about reading!
I was interested to read about the author's experience of, and love for, the birds which she has shared her house and garden with. The bird-watchers I regularly chat to at Bough Beech pooh-poohed the idea that anyone who takes birds from the wild into their house should be taken seriously. However, I think even they might enjoy this book.
Esther Woolfson tells her readers about the prejudices and myths surrounding the corvid family, and I am glad to have had my mind opened on the subject. I must admit to always having had a slightly ambivalent attitude to magpies. At primary school our teacher taught us that when we saw a magpie we should always say "Good afternoon, Mr Magpie, and how is your wife today?" in order to avoid bad luck, and I did just that for many years!
There are many thoughts expressed beautifully in Corvus, but here is one of my favourite quotes:
"To believe that humans have a monopoly of the things that deepen life on this earth - memory, appreciation, imagination, emotion - seems both arrogant and simplistic; to imagine that, without a language we recognise, birds and animals exist in a world of thoughtlessness, of lesser communication, lesser feeling, surely wrong."