A self-described posthippie ecofeminist offers a quiet, genial book of “hopeful possibility” amid the current ecological crisis.
Wildlife researcher and rehabilitator Haupt (Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin’s Lost Notebooks, 2006, etc.) writes gracefully about the interactions between crows and humans in the urban landscape and what those interactions portend for the future of the zoöpolis (where human and animal geographies overlap). For most people, notes the author, crows are the most commonly encountered native wild animal. Her fascination with the unusually intelligent birds began after a long depressive funk. One day she looked out her study window, saw an injured fledgling perched on an electrical wire and took the bird in. While nursing it back to health, she began to feel better. Haupt then spent two years studying the shiny black songbirds in her backyard and neighborhood. Found in growing numbers—there are more than 30 million in the United States—in densely populated towns and suburbs, the omnivorous American Crow thrives on the detritus of modern urban life, consuming everything from road kill to bread crumbs, bagels and McDonald’s fries. The author discovered that watching the creatures mate, nest, forage and help one another encouraged a necessary awareness of the continuity between human lives and that of other species. Like her beloved Thoreau—who wrote, “There is no wildness distant from ourselves”—Haupt celebrates the interconnectedness of all life and urges readers to pay close attention to their home places. The chapter on the habits of amateur urban naturalists is a neat how-to guide for anyone interested in learning how the wild, nonhuman animals around us live. Even though we are unable to view our entire planet, she writes, we can take positive action by cultivating a sense of wonder at the wildlife at our door: “We practice wonder by resisting the temptation to hurry past things worth seeing.”
A fresh take on conscious living in the everyday world.