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The Raven: A Natural History in Britain and Ireland


Series: Poyser Monographs Volume: 64

By: Derek Ratcliffe

326 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations, tables

T & AD Poyser Ltd (A & C Black)

Hardback | Jan 2011 | #60554 | ISBN-13: 9780856610905
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £59.99 $73/€67 approx

About this book

From the author of "The Peregrine Falcon", this monograph presents a thorough summary of our knowledge of the species' natural history, emphasizing also the long association of the bird with humankind. Chapters cover distribution, feeding habits, social behaviour, movements, breeeding, territorialism and population regulation of ravens in Britain and Ireland. The author also looks at ravens and modern agricultural practice, their intelligence, and ravens elsewhere in the world.

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.
- Guardian

"Powerful illustrations complement writing of real insight into these formidable, yet playful, birds."
- New Scientist

"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

"[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."
- hland News Group


Preface xv Acknowledgements xix Introduction: The Raven: spirit of the wilds 1 1. THE RAVEN IN HUMAN HISTORY 7 Prehistory 8 The Raven in myth and legend 9 From scavenger friend to predator-foe 16 2. THE RAVEN'S COUNTRY 27 Cliff coasts of the agricultural districts 30 Lowland farmland in the west 32 Foothills and marginal land 33 Sheepwalks of the higher hills 34 Grouse-moors of the eastern uplands 35 Deer forests of western and northern Scotland 36 Cliff coasts of the northern and western moorlands 37 3. DISTRIBUTION AND NUMBERS IN BRITAIN AND IRELAND 4O South-east England 40 The Channel Isles 42 South-west England 42 East Anglia 46 Wales 47 Midlands 53 Northern England 55 Southern Scotland 60 Scottish Highlands 64 Scottish Islands 68 Ireland 71 Grand totals 74 4. FOOD AND FEEDING HABITS 75 Studies of food 78 The Raven as a predator 82 Other foods 89 Feeding habits 91 5. SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR 97 Territorialism 97 Flocking and communal roosts 101 Social behaviour in display 107 6. RAVEN MOVEMENTS 118 General movements 118 Daily movements 125 7. ASSOCIATIONS WITH OTHER ANIMALS 127 Birds 127 Mammals 138 8. BREEDING: NEST AND NEST SITE 139 Nest construction 140 Nest sites 144 9. BREEDING: THE EGG STAGE 16O Prelaying behaviour 160 The egg 161 Clutch size 165 Laying 168 Incubation 171 1O. BREEDING: THE YOUNG 174 Nestling growth 175 Brood size 182 Breeding performance 188 Causes of complete breeding failure 189 Egg-collecting and its effects on breeding performance 189 Regional variations in productivity 191 11. TERRITORIAILISM AND POPULATION REGULATION 196 Surplus non-breeding populations 199 Rapid remating 200 The ceiling on numbers 202 Territorialism and variations in breeding density 204 Mechanism of territorial spacing 208 Limitations of unsuitable nesting habitat 210 Mortality, population turnover and capacity for spread 211 12. RAVENS IN THE MODERN SCENE 217 Gamekeepering 218 Afforestation 225 Changes in farming practice 232 Disturbance 236 Pesticides 238 Conclusions 240 13. RAVENS ELSEWHERE IN THE WORL#D 241 Subspecies of Corr#us corax 243 Other species of Raven 245 14. INTELLIGENCE IN RAVENS 249 Appendices 1. Distribution of Raven flocks and roosts in Britain and Ireland 256 2. Calls of the Raven 265 3. Appearance of the Raven 268 4. Scientific names of animal and plant species in the text 271 5. Names of the Raven 274 Bibliography 275 l40 Tables 1-27 284 Index 317 60

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