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Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival [Paperback]

Bernd Heinrich
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 30 2009 P.S.

From flying squirrels to grizzly bears, and from torpid turtles to insects with antifreeze, the animal kingdom relies on some staggering evolutionary innovations to survive winter. Unlike their human counterparts, who must alter the environment to accommodate physical limitations, animals are adaptable to an amazing range of conditions.

Examining everything from food sources in the extremely barren winter land-scape to the chemical composition that allows certain creatures to survive, Heinrich's Winter World awakens the largely undiscovered mysteries by which nature sustains herself through winter's harsh, cruel exigencies.

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Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival + Mind Of The Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds
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The ways animals cope during cold winter months are highlighted in this new title from Bernd Heinrich, the award-winning author of Mind of the Raven (1999), physiological ecologist, and professor at the University of Vermont. Some animals, such as voles, stay awake all winter in tunnels and grassy nests built under the snow. Other small mammals, such as chipmunks and ground squirrels, spend winter hibernating. Some insects supercool through chemicals in their blood that inhibit freezing, while others do the opposite and survive by promoting self-freezing. Many other animals remain active all winter and retire to warm nests or dens when not seeking food. Heinrich is a graceful writer, taking the reader along as he uncovers aggregations of wintering bugs, follows a weasel's tracks in the snow, or watches the tiny kinglets fluff their feathers for insulation as they search for wintering caterpillars. Liberally illustrated with the author's pencil drawings, this title will be sought out by fans of good nature writing. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The stories are plain engrossing---in their elucidation, their breadth of examples, and their barely contained sense of awe and admiration." ---Kirkus --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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First Sentence
When I was a teenage boy in western Maine, I read the books of Jack London, books about a world of rugged people and hardy animals at home in the frozen woods of the north. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!! Nov. 2 2003
Really great information written in a conversational/relaxed style which makes the information very accessible. (In many sections it feels like you're there with the author as he describes what he saw and conclusions drawn. Wonderful drawings throughout. There are all sorts of topics covered. The chapters are as follows:
- Fire and Ice
- Snow and Subnivian Space
- A late winter walk
- Tracking a weasel
- Nests and Dens
- Flying squirrels in a huddle
- Hibernating squirrels
- The Kinglet's feathers
- The Kinglet's winter fuel
- Hibernating birds
- torpid turtles under ice
- iced-in rodents
- frozen frogs on ice
- Insects: from the diversity to the limits
- Mice in winter
- Supercool(ed) houseguests
- Bats and butterflies
- Aggregating for winter- winter flocks
- berries preserved
- bears in winter
- storing food
- bees' winter gamble
- winter buds
- the kinglet's key?
As winter is almost upon us here, I will be looking back to this book as a neat reference as I wonder about the Great Mystery that keeps life beating on through the cold. Definitely recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Winter Delight Feb. 7 2003
I loved this book. From the unique cover (the colored images seem to be some sort of stickers or something) to the lovely drawings inside, the book is a sensual delight. I loved curling up in front of the fire with this and marveling at the ways animals have evolved to survive in temperatures that would kill us. An avid bird and animal watcher, I nevertheless surprised myself that I had never thought of some of the more complex anatomical and physiological challenges animals face in the deep winter. And while I was so grateful to be the beneficiary of Dr. Heinrich's knowledge, I was also so charmed to me able to follow a human through the winter woods who is as delighted as I am myself to have the privilege of observing birds and animals in their natural settings. Sometimes I think I'm a little weird for enjoying nature so much, but I've found a kindred soul in the author! Anyone who wonders about the ways of nature and would like a tour of the winter woods with a knowledgeable guide will relish this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb nature writing Feb. 3 2003
If you have enjoyed the nature writing of Farley Mowat or
David Attenborough (The Life of Birds, The Private Life of
Plants), you'll enjoy this wonderful book. There are books
on nature which are dry and distanced: this is just the
opposite. There are also books on nature which are primarily
observational, such as Thoreau's Walden Pond and Annie Dillard's
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Neither Thoreau nor Annie Dillard
measured the rectal temperature of insects in the winter to
help determine the mechanics of heat regulation. Most of the
mammals, birds, insects, and trees looked at by the author are
his neighbors in the winter woods: the love and enjoyment and
the curiosity about his environment is very evident. He wants
to know what these creatures do to cope and survive the severe
winters where he lives in Maine and Vermont.

Heinrich writes with great warmth and humor throughout the book.
You'll follow his thoughts and discoveries about how the tiny
golden-crowned kinglet survives the winter, when logic seems to
say that it shouldn't even survive a single below-zero night.
On sunny days, even when the temperature is well below freezing,
several dozen honeybees may emerge from the hive and just a few
seconds later will all be lying dead on the snow: this is a
sacrificial testing mechanism by the hive to ensure that when
the first flowers open up that a head start can be obtained for
foraging. There are all kinds of fascinating things that you
could never imagine going on. Most of the nature in the book
centers on Heinrich's own environment, but he also readily and
often talks at length about other species from around the world.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Animal Adaption Feb. 17 2004
When you ask "what do animals do in winter?" the general answer is "they hibernate." But that is such an inadequate answer as Heinrich shows. The author takes us along into the winter woods of New England as he (and us the reader) discover the survival strategies employed by many inhabitants of the forest. From putting on layers of fat and slowing body functions, to burying in mud or snow, to literally freezing solid and then thawing in the spring, animals have found a much wider range of tactics to survive than we would think.
The writing is very accessible, as if Heinrich is giving us small talks in an informal atmosphere. Full of first person experiences and observations, but solidly grounded in science, he leads us into the winter woods to meet these animals and see them in their everyday winter lives. The observations unfold in a series of discoveries which brings the reader along on the trip and helps make the science understandable. I guarantee that you will learn things you had not known before and probably will be surprised at the ingenuity of animal survival. You will not look at the winter woods in the same way again. An excellent journey of discovery.
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