Novelist Kira Jane Buxton has written several books about a pet crow navigating a post-apocalyptic world. But her writing is full of real-world bird behaviors. She has taken inspiration from how sparrows line their nests with cigarette stubs — which can deter mites — and many other bits of animal trivia. “I maintain that anything I took liberties with, in terms of the more fantasy or fantastical elements of the novel, they're not half as exciting as what's really happening in nature,” she says.
Bird Facts Stranger Than Fiction
Written by Mark Bramhill
Mark Bramhill: This is BirdNote.
Novelist Kira Jane Buxton has written several books about a pet crow navigating a post-apocalyptic world. But while the premise is outlandish, her writing is full of real-world bird and animal behaviors:
Kira Jane Buxton: I was so endlessly fascinated doing the research. I would read and read and read and get so excited. And then I would think about, creatively, how to voice animal characters without being trite or glib. Doing it from a place of respect and reverential research. And then I would write and pepper the book with animal trivia that I found fascinating.
Did you know that sparrows put the stubs of cigarettes in the lining of their nests? And it deters mites.
[House Sparrow calls, ML 211312851]
And that crows perform anting, which is the sort of ritual where they cover themselves in ants. And we're not even a hundred percent sure why they do this, whether it's, you know, to get rid of other parasites, like kind of ironic if it's an insecticide. But it's so wonderful to know these things.
[American Crow caws, ML 229089]
And so I just wanted to find ways to share it because I maintain that anything I took liberties with, in terms of the more fantasy or fantastical elements of the novel, they're not half as exciting as what's really happening in nature.
[loud CAW, maybe some wing flaps?]
Mark Bramhill: You can learn about Kira's books, Hollow Kingdom and Feral Creatures, on our website, BirdNote.org. I'm Mark Bramhill.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Content Director: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. House Sparrow ML 211312851 recorded by J. McGowan and American Crow ML 229089 recorded by B. McGuire.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2022 BirdNote April 2022
Narrator: Mark Bramhill
ID# buxtonk-02-2022-04-13 buxtonk-02