John Marzluff

John Marzluff is a professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington and author of In the Company of Crows and RavensGifts of the Crow, and Welcome to Subirdia. His work is featured on the PBS documentary TV show Nature in the episode A Murder of Crows. Read his blog on Psychology Today here.


WELCOME TO SUBIRDIA: How Humans Can Make Small Changes to Help Our Wild Neighbors Thrive (2014)

From University of Washington Professor of Wildlife Science John Marzluff, winner of the Washington State Book Award, comes a research-driven examination of how animals adapt to thrive living among humans in our urban and suburban environments.  Marzluff offers countless engaging stories of populations and communities of animals, with an Welcome to Subirdia presents a surprising discovery: the suburbs of many large cities support incredible biological diversity. Populations and communities of a great variety of birds, as well as other creatures, are adapting to the conditions of our increasingly developed world. In this fascinating and optimistic book, John Marzluff reveals how our own actions affect the birds and animals that live in our cities and towns, and he provides ten specific strategies everyone can use to make human environments friendlier for our natural neighbors.
Over many years of research and fieldwork, Marzluff and student assistants have closely followed the lives of thousands of tagged birds seeking food, mates, and shelter in cities and surrounding areas. From tiny Pacific wrens to grand pileated woodpeckers, diverse species now compatibly share human surroundings. By practicing careful stewardship with the biological riches in our cities and towns, Marzluff explains, we can foster a new relationship between humans and other living creatures—one that honors and enhances our mutual destiny. on birds, who have adapted both behaviorally (such as singing at lower frequencies to be heard through traffic noise) and physically (changing plumage colors) to co-exist in an increasingly developed world.  He also sets forth unexpected and intriguing strategies humans can easily employ to sustain and celebrate the diversity of wildlife that calls our yards, gardens, parks, and cities home, and how you can make your own yard a safe haven.

"Enjoy and bond with nature where you live and work. Marzluff has done this, and it has given him contagious joy that shows in the pages of this enjoyable and informative book."New York Review of Books

"As Marzluff shows in this rich account of fieldwork in ‘metropolitan wilds’ from New Zealand to Costa Rica, such annexed environments – which boast some 75 billion trees in the United States alone – can hostan astounding diversity of birds. But, he argues passionately, intelligently and with scientific authority, any land-use change reweaves the ecological web, and may leave it threadbare."Nature

"…this book is a terrific compilation of facts about suburban wildlife (much more than birds, and well beyond its US core). There are awful statistics —about cats especially, but also skyscraper collisions, poisons and habitat loss— and many happily more positive ones."—Rob Hume, Birdwatch

Rights: Yale University Press


THE GIFTS OF THE CROW: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans (2012)

Crows are mischievous, playful, social, and passionate. They have brains that are huge for their body size and exhibit an avian kind of eloquence. They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And because they often live near people—in our gardens, parks, and cities—they are also keenly aware of our peculiarities, staying away from and even scolding anyone who threatens or harms them and quickly learning to recognize and approach those who care for and feed them, even giving them numerous, oddly touching gifts in return. 

With his extraordinary research on the intelligence and startling abilities of corvids—crows, ravens, and jays—scientist John Marzluff teams up with artist-naturalist Tony Angell to tell amazing stories of these brilliant birds in Gifts of the Crow. With narrative, diagrams, and gorgeous line drawings, they offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and our shared behaviors. The ongoing connection between humans and crows—a cultural coevolution—has shaped both species for millions of years. And the characteristics of crows that allow this symbiotic relationship are language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk-taking, and awareness—seven traits that humans find strangely familiar. Crows gather around their dead, warn of impending doom, recognize people, commit murder of other crows, lure fish and birds to their death, swill coffee, drink beer, turn on lights to stay warm, design and use tools, use cars as nutcrackers, windsurf and sled to play, and work in tandem to spray soft cheese out of a can. Their marvelous brains allow them to think, plan, and reconsider their actions. 

With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing. A testament to years of painstaking research and careful observation, this fully illustrated, riveting work is a thrilling look at one of nature’s most wondrous creatures.

"Full of clear and detailed accounts of research...remarkable."—The New York Times

"Angell’s illustrations of birds are exquisitely detailed... the book will instill in many readers a sense of wonder and curiosity at what these birds can do. An insightful look at some of our surprisingly capable feathered friends."Kirkus

"Amazing"Seattle Times

“Delightful… a series of intriguing stories and stunning illustrations that together reveal the sophisticated cognitive abilities of crows and their relation­ship with humans."—Nature

"With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing. A testament to years of painstaking research and careful observation, this fully illustrated, riveting work is a thrilling look at one of nature's most wondrous creature"—The Guardian

“A remarkable look at just how smart the common crow and raven are… Highly recommended.”—Library Journal

Gifts of the Crow is a gift to all of us who have argued for years that humans don’t possess the only minds in the universe. This is one of the most exciting books I’ve read in a long time.”—Sy Montgomery, author of Birdology

“Gifts of the Crow is a compelling book. Filled with wonderful stories of regular people’s interactions with ravens, crows, and jays, it also cites engrossing scientific studies, reports on the field work of biologists, and offers detailed explanations of how the brain of a corvid actually works. I was fascinated.”—Suzie Gilbert, author of Flyaway: How A Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings

“This book is indeed a gift, not only to those of us eager to learn about corvid behavior but also to those who wish to understand the bases for these actions.”—Irene Pepperberg, author of Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence—And Formed a Deep Bond in the Process

"In this important work, you’ll find stunning examples of crow emotionality and intelligence -- a triumphant vindication for those who have known all along that animals are capable of much more than they’re generally given credit for. . Crows dream as part of their learning process, for instance, and profile other individuals’ behavior and act accordingly. In many ways, their intelligence is equal to that of the great apes. Fascinating."—Stacey O'Brien, author of Wesley the Owl

"A great read, this book is a tribute to the little-known and underappreciated minds of the birds of the amazing corvid family. Serious and at times hilarious, it pulled me in with its telling anecdotes and scientific context. Most importantly, it acknowledges and explores the many complex similarities between crows' mental traits and our own."—Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven

Rights: Free Press, World