Behold the cormorant: silent, still, cruciform, and brooding; flashing, soaring, quick as a snake. Evolution has crafted the only creature on Earth that can migrate the length of a continent, dive and hunt deep underwater, perch comfortably on a branch or a wire, walk on land, climb up cliff faces, feed on thousands of different species, and live beside both fresh and saltBehold the cormorant: silent, still, cruciform, and brooding; flashing, soaring, quick as a snake. Evolution has crafted the only creature on Earth that can migrate the length of a continent, dive and hunt deep underwater, perch comfortably on a branch or a wire, walk on land, climb up cliff faces, feed on thousands of different species, and live beside both fresh and salt water in a vast global range of temperatures and altitudes, often in close proximity to man. Long a symbol of gluttony, greed, bad luck, and evil, the cormorant has led a troubled existence in human history, myth, and literature. The birds have been prized as a source of mineral wealth in Peru, hunted to extinction in the Arctic, trained by the Japanese to catch fish, demonized by Milton in Paradise Lost, and reviled, despised, and exterminated by sport and commercial fishermen from Israel to Indianapolis, Toronto to Tierra del Fuego. In The Devil s Cormorant, Richard King takes us back in time and around the world to show us the history, nature, ecology, and economy of the world s most misunderstood waterfowl."...
|Title||:||The Devil's Cormorant: A Natural History|
|Number of Pages||:||360 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Devil's Cormorant: A Natural History Reviews
Although this book is all about cormorants- their natural history and how they are appreciated and reviled throughout the world in both culture and art - form, this book, in the end, for me is mostly about humankind. How we treat the cormorants says much, if not all about us. Well researched a perfect book for a humanities person as it includes a variety of lenses through which the cormorant is seen including short essays, poetry, story, and tales of greed both from the bird an the human. Can this bird continue to thrive alongside humanity?
"...with cormorants, across cultures and across time, ...in almost every case our problem with cormorants has been the direct result of our own busy, heavy hand. This is exemplary of so many of our interactions with the natural world."A hefty, if not exhaustive, attempt to explore the natural history of cormorants around the world and humanity's consistent distrust and hatred of cormorants. From ancient traditions, to modern research; from literature to explorer's notebooks; from personal experience to interviews with experts and cormorant killing scumbags from around the globe--this book is a major achievement and should be read. To bad it didn't "go viral" when it came out so we could get a cultural conversation going and change some minds. The most striking thing is how the stereotype of cormorants as morally degenerate gluttons who eat all the fish has persisted across cultures and countries and time with no corresponding scientific evidence. That's called prejudice.King visited the Columbia River before they started killing cormorants--which he predicted they would begin in the last chapter of this book.
Depending on whose taxonomy you favor, there are about forty species of cormorants. Cormorants live on every continent near both fresh and salt water and eat only live fish – which they are particularly well adapted to catch. In Japan and some other Asian countries trained cormorants are used to catch fish for humans. In other countries including the United States and Canada they are scapegoated for declining fish populations and slaughtered as pests. Cormorants are smart and adaptable: Fish farmers are still searching for effective ways to keep cormorants from their ponds. Many people are dismayed because excrement from cormorant colonies kills roosting trees and surrounding vegetation. In Peru cormorants are protected because cormorant guano is exported as organic fertilizer. Richard King traveled the world to research The Devil's Cormorant: A Natural History. Each chapter describes in detail some aspect of how we humans relate to these fascinating, paradoxical birds. The result is an interesting study of both cormorants and humans.
Richard King has written an engaging account of the natural history of cormorants. He describes the skills of these birds and some of their unusual behaviors, such as how they spread their wings to dry. He addresses why this particular bird tends to be so unloved in literature and in wildlife management practices compared to more "attractive" seabirds. King is a senior lecturer in literature of the sea with the Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport. His combination of writing, interviewing, and biological research skills makes this an unusually accessible natural history book, even for readers not yet acquainted with this very interesting bird. The final chapter does an outstanding job of distilling all that comes before it.
I couldn't have told you what a cormorant was before picking up this book, but I like microhistories about obscure, rarely covered yet ubiquitous subjects (see Mark Kurlansky's "Cod" and Tom Standage's "A History of the World in Six Glasses"). This book is a beautiful ode to the cormorant bird, anthromorphically maligned in literature, revered by the Japanese, target of genocide by US fishermen, rare specimen to ornithologists, canary in the coal mine to evolutionary biologists.
Yay good book by my professor!
Some interesting information on how the bird has been unfairly vilified over the years, mainly for its reputation for gluttony. Gave more detail then I needed about all aspects of the bird.