Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness

by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Digital audiobook, 2020


A scholarly tribute to crow life and mythology explains how increasing crow populations are reflecting various ecological imbalances while providing opportunities to connect with the animal world.



Call number



Little, Brown & Company (2020)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Carlie
While this book is not quite what I expected or what the title portends, there are a few good nuggets of wisdom. Mostly, Haupt has written a treatise on urban naturalist philosophy with some information on crows thrown in. I was left with the impression that she doesn't particularly care as much
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about the crows per se; she's more interested in nature in general and nature as part of the urban landscape. Citing the work and history of others who have dedicated their lives to studying nature and living things, she puts the need to be a part of the nature around you in context. I read the book in its entirety, but mainly it didn't contain much new information. I was bored with some parts, but I managed to trudge through to gain some knowledge and perspective.
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LibraryThing member EsmereldaCrow
Lyanda Lynn Haupt does not especially like crows. In fact, her editor had to cajole her into writing about them at all, as she tells us in the introduction to this book. Thus, Crow Planet is less about the crows themselves and more about crows as representatives of the persistence of the natural
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world in an urban environment, and symbols of how we are a part of nature, whether we know it or not. Crows prosper in human-made landscapes, and are one of the few wild creatures that almost everyone encounters regularly. Using crows as a starting point, Haupt explores these connections and discusses her attempts to become an urban naturalist while living responsibly on the planet. I enjoyed this book very much, as it addressed the sense of dislocation that many of us feel (I certainly do), and pointed out how we can always learn to better observe what is right before us. I especially liked the sections on preparing to study nature and her descriptions of how she put that into practice in her own life.
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LibraryThing member rightantler
There's a lot of great crow insight in this book - especially if you are new to reading books about crows. At times the wander into philosophy, wisdom seemed a little too much of a tangent. However, that was probably because I was more interested in observations and wisdom about crows than I was
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about the authors view on life. That said, the blend of the two worked well and makes for an enjoyable and considered read.
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LibraryThing member DieFledermaus
Crow Planet isn’t an earth-shaking book but it is a pleasant and interesting read. I enjoyed the crow anecdotes and the glimpses of Seattle. The author decides to investigate the natural world that can be found in a city and while she looks at other animals and insects, the main focus is crows.
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There might be a bit much about the characteristics of the naturalist, especially in the first part, but the examination of crows as urban dwellers is nice.

In the first chapters, the author describes her ambivalence towards crows but, with a book assignment, she decides to seriously work on becoming an urban naturalist. This involves some reading (interesting crow research), staring at a stuffed crow for a couple days (odd, but gives good reasons for it) and maybe too much on the best naturalist qualities and how that title is no longer valued. She has her own crow stories and ones that she has heard from others. Crow communication, crow movement, crow nests and crow deaths are some topics. There is also a lot about the interaction between crows and people – though there is some bemoaning urban developments, the larger point is about responsible cohabitation and maintaining a connection to the natural world even in the city. A modestly enjoyable book with a somewhat different focus on crows.
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LibraryThing member satyridae
First the nitpicky bits: an editor should have picked up on the fact that Haupt calls crane flies 'cane flies' throughout. And there was one wincing 'tales' for tails.

This isn't really a book about crows at all. It's a memoir, a book about Haupt being alert to her surroundings, a book about waking
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from depression. I wanted to read about crows, so my impressions of this book are colored by my disappointment in finding a philosophical treatise in place of a natural history of a species. Not that there aren't crows on every page, just that they are all anecdotal crows. The entire book is anecdotal.

There were lovely passages, and interesting insights. There were knee-jerk reactions disguised as philosophy (one can, in fact, feed backyard birds responsibly and well). There were judgments and quirks and digressions. It was interesting but not compelling to me - it took me almost 3 months to finish as I kept putting it down and picking something else up.

Two stars- it was okay. Not bad, but not something I'll re-read.
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LibraryThing member ronsea
Good book by an author living in West Seattle. First half was excellent and the send half too preachy.
LibraryThing member bookwren
“Once I saw a crow sitting on a wire as a gentle breeze loosed a cloud of cherry blossom petals. She tried, like a playful cat, to catch the petals one at a time with her bill as they drifted by. Once after a rare Seattle snow, I saw two crows standing up to their bellies in snowfall. They
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gathered the snow on their heads and tossed it up, then jumped after it with their bills as it fell around them, enjoying the novelty in very much the same manner as Claire and I were. These stories might not be suitable for a scientific journal, but they are fitting for our own field notebooks, for our naturalist’s diaries, for the tales we tell, and for the private places where we keep and treasure our own observations of the wild earth’s wonders, whether they occur thousands of times over or are written only once.” (page 82)

Haupt writes lyrically and personally about the intelligence and adaptability of crows, yet she also tells her own story of life in the “urban wilderness.” As a naturalist and writer, I resonated with her list of naturalist qualities, including the propensity to “name things,” to “cultivate an obsession,” and to “carry a notebook.” I name flora and fauna and even keep lists of favorite road names for future stories. I cultivate an obsession for the natural history and community of a small island in the Salish Sea. I always carry a notebook to record my observations and keep lists, from the mundane of groceries to the excitement of a birding expedition.

She delves into the ways of naturalists and poets and the inspiration that walking brings: “Walker-thinkers have found various ways to accommodate the gifts of imagination that their walking brings.” Henry David Thoreau, Meriwether Lewis, and Mary Oliver all walked to both observe and to inspire writing. I, too, find walking or wandering jump-starts my muse.

Most of all, I admire Haupt’s focus on the fact that we can “naturalize” anywhere, be it our back gardens, neighborhood parks, or city streets. We can all cultivate a respect for the wild beings who share our world, by learning about them and devising humane ways to discourage them from getting into trouble in our ever-expanding human sprawl. We can live alongside crows and raccoons, slugs and spiders, allowing them to help us by consuming pests, allowing them to live their lives as co-inhabitants of our planet. Read Crow Planet and learn not only about crows and other urban wildlife, but about yourself as well.
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LibraryThing member nmele
Perhaps the best book on our relation to everything else on earth I have read since reading "A Sand County Almanac", which Haupt refers to more than once in these reflective essays. I am watching the world out my window, and on my walks, more closely and more contemplatively since reading this book.
LibraryThing member gbelik
The author/naturalist lives in West Seattle and, in this book, writes as much about how to observe and think about nature in an urban setting as she does about crows. I loved the parts about crows.
LibraryThing member dmturner
“Most of us in urban and suburban places live, however unwittingly, in a multilayered zoöpolis.”

In a lopsided, human-dominated world, crows flourish alongside us when other species are reduced by our proximity.

I picked the book up at Powell’s when I was in Portland, and when I started
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reading it I was initially disappointed that it wasn’t primarily about crows. It’s a bit memoir, a bit rumination on being an urban naturalist, a bit reflection on ecology and the human role in nature, and only partly about crows. It rambles at times and is very personal in tone, but there are also passages that are startling and telling. For instance, “In our everyday lives, we see remarkably little evidence in support of the obvious fact that all living things die.”

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LibraryThing member reader1009
nonfiction; memoir of a ornithologist. I guess I thought this would be more about, you know, crows? And I know there is a lot of info about these animals in here, I just didn't feel like wading that far in. I do respect the author though, for writing the thing whilst recovering from clinical
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depression (or "seeing and feeling too much," as her therapist put it)--a major accomplishment by any means, but yeah, I guess I was expecting something else.
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LibraryThing member kevn57
Not exactly what I expected. I thought the entire focus of the book would be on crows but in fact I think the main focus of the book was how this woman, or how you can become a backyard or urban naturalist.

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