The Ravens of Snover Canyon
by Philip I. Moynihan
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

"There is a certain imposing mystique about the raven, an aura of reverence that commands respect."

From his home in La Canada Flintridge, California, a neighborhood on the outskirts of the Los Angeles metropolis where he overlooks the rugged Snover Canyon, author Moynihan spent a year feeding, observing, and befriending a pair of mated adult ravens. This book narrates his interactions with the birds and provides an intriguing window into their "ravenworld." First, Moynihan discusses our ongoing fascination with ravens, going back to ancient times to summarize various mythological origin stories for the birds, with several showing them turning black through their feathers being scorched somehow. Next follows a scientific discussion of the raven's intelligence, which is on a par with the great apes, and evidenced by their problem-solving ability, learning capacity, and adaptability. Following these background chapters, the rest of the book consists of near-daily journal entries documenting the activities of the author's raven neighbors, whom he names Freya and Tyr.

Moynihan chronicles their lives, following them through nest building, egg incubation, feeding, and the training of their offspring. Written with precise and careful description, the book brings a scientific eye to understanding the ravens' habits and personalities. The book's most compelling sections show Freya and Tyr teaching their offspring how to fly, find food, and avoid predators. Stories about animals can risk anthropomorphizing and sentimentalizing other species, but this book avoids these pitfalls by bringing objective intellectual curiosity to the birds' habits. Still, there is also an obvious affection for the birds that warms Moynihan's narration, especially in the descriptions of Freya, the gregarious female, and in the sections on the fledglings' training. This slim volume contains a wealth of fascinating information about these remarkable birds and concludes with a heartwarming "circle of life" message.

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