Crow Country is a collection of anecdotes and reminiscences through which naturalist Mark Cocker takes us on a guided tour of some of the most beautiful parts of the English countryside – which, of course, are abundant with rooks, crows and jackdaws!
As someone who dwells in the depths of the English countryside, I’m not unfamiliar with rooks; in fact, there’s a fairly sizeable rookery just down the road from me – admittedly it’s nothing compared with the enormous rookeries described in this book, but it’s big enough that I’m routinely woken up at 5am by the 70-odd birds perched on the telegraph lines outside my house, greeting the dawn with their raucous cawing!
Having said that, and despite their unwanted opinion on what time I should be getting up in the morning, I do absolutely adore these birds – and, in fact, all corvids; they’re beautiful and also incredibly intelligent! Naturally, a book entitled Crow Country was a must-buy for me.
Like Cocker, I first fell in love with these birds after watching their breathtaking flocking displays, enraptured by their soaring and plummeting as a single entity against the backdrop of a dusky sky. And, also much like Cocker, I have often wondered about the reasons behind these stunning performances. While this book does not offer much by way of hard and fast scientific answers, Cocker’s extensive observations from a lifetime of rooking do offer a great insight into rook behaviour, and the stories of his rooking exploits are both informative and entertaining.
“Quite simply, rook sounds are our landscape, particularly the English landscape, made audible.”
In summary, reading this book felt like taking a twilit ramble through the Norfolk Broads, perfectly conveying the feeling of insignificance as you start to properly pay attention to the world around you and notice that you’re but a tiny part of a much bigger picture. Even the title “Crow Country” manages to perfectly communicate the simple idea that this landscape does not belong only to us! Throughout this book, Cocker manages to beautifully capture the charming, quirky nature of rooks (and corvids at large) and the passion and enthusiasm that shines through in his writing is the good rep that that these misunderstood birds sorely need!