The Tangled Nest

The Tangled Nest header image 3


Hi–I’m Lyanda Lynn Haupt, mother of Claire, wife of Tom (who blogs at Bikejuju), and a nature writer based in Seattle. Though my latest book, Crow Planet, celebrates urban nature, I never meant to live in a city. As a young, tree-hugging, earth-mother-to-be, I was sure I would end up in some funky cabin-esque home, surrounded by meadows and woodlands, frolicking barefoot with my daughter as the bell on our cow tinkled. That’s not at all what happened. My husband Tom and I settled in Seattle where I worked for an environmental organization, and he worked in global health for the University of Washington. I birthed the presaged girl, cut back my work hours, and wrote my first book from our tiny house during Claire’s naps. To stave off latent cow yearnings, we installed a backyard chicken coop with four beautiful laying hens, and grew a huge garden.

LyandaA couple of years ago we bought a bigger house, a 1920s restored farmhouse, surrounded by the smaller houses that grew up around it in the 1940s. I began to grasp the fact that a rural childhood for my daughter (who is now ten) was not looking likely. One day, during one of my whiny-crying fits over this realization, Tom asked, “What would you really do differently if we lived out of the city? I mean, I know you want space, and quiet, but what else? How would you spend your days?” I told him that I wanted to knit, and bake bread, and garden, and make jam. “Um, honey…” he said, clearly confused, “You already knit and bake bread and garden and make jam. Hell, you even sew Claire’s pajamas.“ “Yes, but I want to do more.” “So do more.” I could almost hear the unspoken, “Duh.”

So that’s what we’re doing. And in experimenting with ways to grow an artful, sustaining, urban home, we are in terrific company. All over the country, even in the most densely urban places, families and individuals are acting upon a deeply rooted impulse to produce a part of their household’s sustenance. Clearly it’s not just about “making more jam.” It’s about cultivating habits within our homes and communities that are authentic, joyful, local, life-giving, and—above all—practical.

I consider such practices to be of-a-piece with an ecological sensibility, bringing our lives into a lovely continuity with the wilder, more-than-human world.

At The Tangled Nest, we’ll explore radical home economics, “urban homesteading,” and our relationship with close-to-home wild nature through projects, musings, news, reviews, adventures and misadventures.  I hope you’ll join us, leave a comment, share your thoughts…

For more about The Tangled Nest philosophy, see my first post–Home Restoration, Phase II.

Click on the covers below to learn more about my books, including Crow Planet, my newest book.





60 Comments so far ↓

  • David

    What a terrific idea, you’re such a wonderful resource.

  • Joe

    Saw this article in today’s Washington Post (7/26/09) and thought you would be interested in it.

  • Robert Weber


    The most wonderful story about a crow is Silverspot the Story of a crow by Ernest Seton Thompson in Wild Animals I have known

    great tales, crow facts, sheet music to crow vocalizations and illustrations.

    I enjoyed your Crow Planet talk at the Hawthorne Powells Monday.

    I enjoy the crowcacaphony each morning in our redwood near Laurelhurst park in Portland.

  • Art Emlen


    Bitsy and I enjoyed your talk immensely and look forward dto reading the book. I don’t know much about Crows and am glad to have found the remedy. I have a cousin Stokes who wrote books about bird behavior, but in his chapter on Crows he confessed “not much known.” That was a couple of decades ago. I see a lot of Crows in the woods where I walk and pick up Great Horned Owl feathers. Now I will be more observant and appreciative of the Crows. I have loved your last two books and know I will this one too. Good for you!!


  • Chris Smith

    Lyanda —

    Just wanted to let you know that CROW PLANET is the featured review in the current issue of THE ENGLEWOOD REVIEW OF BOOKS:

    Thanks for your excellent work!

    Chris Smith
    — also an aspiring urban naturalist

  • Ollie

    Hi. I just purchased Crow Planet after reading a review in a recent Sunday New York Times Book Review. This purchase was ‘triggered’ by a comment made to me a few weeks ago by the spouse of a good friend my wife and I were visiting in Maine. This good soul commented, words to the effect: “I wish to come back as a crow; they are smart birds”.

    Hmmm, well, we’ll see. I need to read your book first. LOL.


  • Jamie Schelz

    I just finished Crow Planet and enjoyed it tremendously. Is “enjoyed” the right word? Certainly the book is written well, it flows, unfolds, and flies all smoothly, and covers a lot of ground in easy, generous prose. But it’s also an important, necessary book that carries a vital message. I did enjoy it, but to leave it at that is insufficient. I was shamed, jolted, encouraged and inspired by Crow Planet. I was also greatly moved. Working at a bookstore for the time being, I’m pleased to have sold a few copies to folks who otherwise might never have heard of it.
    I can’t resist mentioning my surprise, in reading the last chapter, with its talk of hope and its mention of Emily Dickinson in the very last paragraph, that you declined to include any part of Dickinson’s famous poem, entitled Hope, in it:


    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune–without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.

    Crow Planet is a beautiful book. Thank you.

    • lyanda

      Thanks so much for all you kind thoughts, Jamie (and everyone else). I love Ms. Dickinson, and would quote her more, but getting rights to her poetry is VERY expensive. I can only afford a line here and there!

  • Jilyan

    Hi Lyanda,
    I am 2/3rds through ‘Crow Planet’ right now. I love it so much! Congratulations on writing such a magnificent book. I was shocked when I went to mark my place with the back jacket flap and saw your face. You’re a regular here at Coffee to a Tea! Ironically, our artist for next month’s Art Walk specializes in painting crows (check her out at I would love love love it if you would consider doing a reading/signing here during the Art Walk (second Thursday of November, the 12th). I don’t know if this is something you could participate in but I think it would be really cool.
    Let me know if you have any thoughts regarding the possibility!

  • Rafael Montserrat


    I just listened to your interview on KALW in San Franciso. Thanks. I learned a lot about crows, ravens and the others. I live on a boat and the coots are coming into the marina for the winter, I think because the water’s warmer.

    Best wishes,


    • Lyanda

      Thank you Rafael. That was a fun interview to do, and yes–coots are fun little birds. I love their feet.

  • Sustainable Eats

    I just found your blog after reading the Mother Earth News article about coffee chaff. I’m on the SURF list and many of us just got the chaff as well.

    Love your blog and what you are doing! I have created an urban farm inside Seattle as well but still pine for more ruralness. I’m committed to feeding us from mainly our tiny yard though. I look forward to following your chronicles!

    • lyanda

      Great to hear from you–your blog is wonderful! Let us know how you like the chaff. There are pros and cons to be sure, but I’m staying with it for now!

  • Susan Chiang

    I live in an old macadamia tree grove in east San Diego county. The crows around here have figured out an ingenious way to crack open literally the “toughest nut to crack.” I have seen them do it:

    They pull the nuts from the trees and drop them in the street, right where the tires of a car will run them over. When a car passes and the shells are crushed, the crows descend to their meal.

    I thought you might appreciate this!

  • Colorful chicken coop — YOTD | Yardhacker

    […] Yard of the Day comes from nature writer Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s colorful backyard chicken coop located in Western Seattle.  You can read about the build […]

  • Debbie Jacobsen

    Hi, Lyanda. I feel like I’ve found the Seattle friend I’ve been looking for. I’m a transplant from Leavenworth, WA who is not growing well, and your book is giving me hope that perhaps I can be happy here. Yesterday I took a great photo of a crow at Discovery Park – I’ve never paid attention to crows before your book – and I’m researching square-foot gardening for my backyard. I’m glad you have a blog and will look for other like-minded souls here. Thank you very much for writing your book.

    • lyanda

      Hi Debbie. Thanks so much for your kind thoughts. I have every faith that you will come to flourish here in Seattle. You might like to visit the Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford this weekend–they’ll be selling all kinds of plants that will do well in your new garden, suited to our climate. Enjoy, and I’m glad you found the Tangled Nest! L

  • Michele

    Thank you for your thoughtful ruminations in Crow Planet. As someone with an immunology and infectious disease background, I thought you might be interested in the following: (1) plague was caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis (not a virus as is stated in your book) and (2) crows and other birds can not die from contracting rabies from eating dead rabid animals because only mammals can host rabies. Your book is so detailed, I thought you might want to know this.

  • Glenn

    Just finished Crow Planet. Wonderful to read of your optimism and efforts at demonstrating a new urban lifestyle. Though, I have visited Seattle on occasion (I live in Portland) and even visited Lincoln Park last year and other areas around Alki Point. I could even picture the crows in a tree there waiting for someone to feed them. I don’t get that many crows in my neighborhood, which isn’t quite as natural as West Seattle. Tiny lots like the Alki Peninsula, but no wild or semi-wild natutal parks like Lincoln or Me-Kwa-Mooks or Schmitz. Closest thing like that is about 3 miles east. I do get the occasional chickadee, spotted towhee, and song sparrow, and there is a flicker that really enjoys probing for ants in my front yard from time to time. Sometimes, there are lots of lesser gold finches. There are occasional junkos, and once or twice I’ve had a Bewick’s wren. And always great gobs of English house sparrows, who seem to create such a raucous noise not even the crows can stand them.

  • Jamie Lutton

    A customer of mine urged me to go out and buy Crow Planet and read it. I did not realize you were the author of Rare Encounters With Ordinary Birds till I finished it. I had put that book on my recommend shelf at work when I have it in.
    I had been feeding crows a couple of dog biscuits on my walk to work, so that I could write about that to my father about their antics. this past fall I lost him , but I kept feeding the crows, and writing about it on my blog. I wanted to draw them close to me, so I could look at them, as my eyes are not very good. They greet me very merrily now; yesterday one buzzed past my ear when I was on my leni, at my apartment, seven flights up, on the way to the elevator. He then roosted in a nearby tree, cawing at me merrily. I went down to the ground floor, to look for him, but he did not come to me. I realized that he was just saying hello. I enjoy their flying past my head, to tease me, when I walk to work early in the morning. The fattest ones are the boldest; I suppose they are old crows, who know that I am not likely to hurt them. They perform fantastic areal dives and spins in the sky for me, when they see me. They hang over my head on the telephone wires, and stare at me, while I stare back. (I am careful not to get right underneath them; I got splashed with crow doo once).
    I spend 60 hours a week inside my shop; and the crows bring great joy to me on my way to work. Please keep writing about birds; I enjoyed your books very much.

  • Clare McLean

    Hi, Lyanda.
    I’ve long been a fan of yours, since reading your book about Seattle birds. The cormorant essay in particular has stayed with me and increased my appreciation of them. So I want to thank you very much for that and send my recent blog post about cormorants along the Ship Canal:

    Hope you are enjoying the winter.
    Best regards,
    Clare McLean

  • Chris


    I have been a fan of yours since my mother gave me a copy of Pilgrim. To me it is a perfect book – focused in its subject matter and lovingly written with a message that ripples out into the world. My only disappointment with the book was that it was not one that many of my friends could appreciate.

    I got Crow Planet as soon as it was available. I devoured it, read it aloud to people over the phone, gave copies to my friends, recommended it to book clubs …. I insisted that my mother read it, of course.

    You might be intrigued to see what is possibly the first mention of your book in a poem – written by mother.


  • Christina Bandaragoda

    My friends Don and Kendra Peterson told me about your site and your ‘Kale Manifesto’. Great piece! My friend Emily and I are putting together a Kale Cookbook and the picture of your Eat More Kale T-shirt surrounded by lacinato kale is perfect for our blurb sending people to buy T-shirts from Bo on our Swagger KaleSlaw recipe page – if you’ll agree. Send us an email and we’ll send a pdf of a few pages. As a country girl who wound up in suburban Seattle, I really appreciate your story on the About page, good stuff.

  • Greg Geisler


    Just finished Crow Planet and I was so moved by it. I also am envious of how well you write. Fantastic work and I I have passed it on to my wife. I am looking forward to your next project. BTW, we mentioned your book on our blog at:

    Thank you for doing what you do and for doing it so well.

  • Peyton Price

    I am so starstruck to find your beautiful blog, Lyanda! I’m a country girl living and raising children in the suburbs. Crow Planet really hit home for me. I was inspired to stop pining away and start appreciating the nature around me. I wrote a little e-book of suburban nature haiku–and I dedicated it to you!

  • Elsa Rensfeldt

    Hello Lyanda. I have recently discovered your books:) The network I´m working with would very much like to write about your books (Crow planet and some others.) Can you help us to get these books! Our network is based in the northern part of Sweden but we have members all over the country.

    Greeting from Elsa, amateur birdwatcher from Luleå 🙂

    • lyanda

      Hi Elsa. Sorry–it took me awhile to discover your comment. Thanks so much for your interest. My first book was actually published in Swedish–“Ovanliga moten med vanliga faglar,” with new watercolor illustrations by the wonderful artist Peter Nilsson. The publisher is Ellerstroms.

  • Jordan

    Okay, my wife got me into crows by feeding them and noting their behavior to me. I was aware that they would literally “knock” on the roof, window, deck or elsewhere to elicit a handout. Wife also noted that they use different calls and even different knocks when strangers are moving through the neighborhood – as if they actually wan to to alert US of the events. She even insisted that they had several times driven off a pesky woodpecker WHEN SHE ASKED THEM TO.

    But all my skepticism collapsed when we experienced this incident:

    Our driveway slopes downward from the street in front our our house to our basement garage, then turns and continues at a slight upgrade to the side street. Water tends to wash down from the streets (we recently got the city to install a berm to reduce this flow) and would flood our home except for ONE storm drain near the corner of our garage. If that drain becomes plugged during a storm – as for example by leaves or by ice during a hailstorm – we get a flooded basement.

    One night – well past midnight – we were awakened by a persistent knocking on the roof directly over our bedroom. My wife recognized the pattern of the knock as being one of “our” crows or ravens. Then she heard the sound of a heavy downpour as the persistent knocking continued. Then she realized that she was NOT hearing the sound of water draining into the storm drain in our driveway!

    Quickly dressed, grabbed lights, went out into the HEAVY downpour and found the water level already 2″ above the garage door threshold and (from inside) that it was rapidly soaking boxes in the garage and heading for the carpeted bonus bedroom behind that. I waded into the growing lake, pulled the grate from the storm drain, and grabbed a hunk of leaves and grass that was blocking the outflow pipe – then poked a long pole down the pipe to knock loose a further obstruction. Water receded.

    Memorable phrase from my youth, from comedian Jackie Vernon: “A wet bird never flies at night.”


  • Peyton Price

    We have a litter of fox kits under our deck and they’ve begun venturing out into the sun. Somehow, I feel this is my reward for being inspired by your book to appreciate what the suburbs have to offer. Here’s a link to a few pictures, if you’re interested in a peek:

  • kara decarlo

    I just finished Crow Planet.
    It was lovely!

    When we bought our house, it was the proximity to forest preserves that sealed the deal for me.

    I love to spy our feral neighbors through the living room window–foxes, coyotes, deer, opossums, racoons, hawks, owls, bats, and of course the trio of crows that have made their home on our block.
    Thank you for such an enjoyable read and I look forward to your next book!

  • Shawn Terjeson

    Hi Lyanda!

    Do you have one or two one liners about the value of crows? My neighbors are complaining about crows in general. The best I’ve come up with is, “Hey come on, they are the only wild life that interacts with you directly!”


  • Luke McGuff

    Hello — as so many commenters have already said, I’ve read Crow Planet and was very inspired by it. I’ve posted a review to my blog:

    I’ve also read your other two books and look forward to future writing.

  • Jayne

    I just finished your wonderful book, Crow Planet. Can you recommend a book for children (age 8) on experiencing, studying, enjoying nature as a budding naturalist. Thank you. Jayne McPartlin

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  • CharityP

    I found your lovely blog via Root Simple and have been reading it all morning. What really got me though was your bio here. I too pined for “property”, something with “outbuildings” and my small town suburban life was holding me back. It wasn’t until urban farming hit the mainstream that I saw how many people were doing exactly what I was dreaming about right in their little backyards! Now I don’t dream about more property, only how much more I can do/grow/raise on what I have 🙂

  • anthony turpin

    am in awe of crows I’ve come to know, but cant identify. I give them peanuts to bribe their proximity. Is this bad for them? How do I begin to identify individuals? thanks. anthony turpin

  • Lisa


    I wake my son up each morning in positive, fun ways. Yesterday morning, I read The Urban Bestiary found in the September ’13 Discover magazine to him as he laid in bed slowly waking up. We are nature and animal lovers, have raised a baby squirrel, and have had many pet rats, and absolutely delighted in each and every animal, especially the opossum and mole. We learned so much, and by the time we finished your article, we both were smiling from ear to ear and eager to start our day. Thank you for your positively amazing work!

  • Jean Miller

    Loved your article in Discover magazine. Your writing style is phenomenal. My just published book is the story of a woodchuck written for 4 to 8 year olds and lavishly illustrated (not by me.) I do love woodchucks and hope that you include them in future writings. They are such invasive but fun little creatures!

  • Alicia

    I just want to say that I heard you talk on the radio with Kris Boyd about your new book, and I loved everything you said. You are such a fresh breath of air. Keep it up and don’t ever stop.

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  • David Dodge

    Hi, Lyanda: I hope you’re doing well today.

    I heard your interview with Michael Toms (sure do miss that guy) on WERU on Sunday. Fascinating stuff. I’ve been observing the behavior of crows here on the coast of Maine for many years, and am as enthralled as you seem to be.

    For example, I know that there’s a numeric code to their talk. “New food available” is certainly four caws. (That happens every time you put stuff in the compost pile.) Three is “emergency.” I think five is “let’s get together.”

    I have lots more, like the cooperation between gulls and crows and how I know there’s an eagle in the area by listening to them, etc.

    If you’d like more, please let me know:

    Thanks for your fine work!


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