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One Wild Bird at a Time
One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives | Bernd Heinrich
3 posts | 3 read | 5 to read
The acclaimed scientist's encounters with individual wild birds, yielding marvelous, mind-altering (Los Angeles Times) insights and discoveries In his modern classics One Mans Owl and Mind of the Raven, Bernd Heinrich has written memorably about his relationships with wild ravens and a great horned owl. In One Wild Bird at a Time, Heinrich returns to his great love: close, day-to-day observations of individual wild birds. There are countless books on bird behavior, but Heinrich argues that some of the most amazing bird behaviors fall below the radar of what most birds do in aggregate. Heinrichs passionate observations [that] superbly mix memoir and science (New York Times Book Review) lead to fascinating questions and sometimes startling discoveries. A great crested flycatcher, while bringing food to the young in their nest, is attacked by the other flycatcher nearby. Why? A pair of Northern flickers hammering their nest-hole into the side of Heinrichs cabin deliver the opportunity to observe the feeding competition between siblings, and to make a related discovery about nest-cleaning. One of a clutch of redstart warbler babies fledges out of the nest from twenty feet above the ground, and lands on the grass below. It cant fly. What will happen next? Heinrich looks closely, with his trademark hands-and-knees science at its most engaging, [delivering] what can only be called psychological marvels of knowing (Boston Globe). An eminent biologist shares the joys of bird-watching and how observing the anomalous behaviors of individual birds has guided his research. Heinrich (Emeritus, Biology/Univ. of Vermont; The Homing Instinct: Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration, 2014, etc.) smoothly describes how studying the daily lives of birds in their natural environments allows him to experience their world vicariously. Now retired and living in a cabin in the Maine woods, he devotes himself to closely observing his avian neighbors, visitors, and vagrants, and keep[ing] daily records throughout spring, summer, fall, and winter. Every year, he welcomes a pair of broad-wing hawks who feast at a vernal pond populated by frogs, spring peepers, and salamanders while refurbishing their old nest. Unusually, they provide a fern cover on the nest, which they update on a daily basis after their chicks hatch. Heinrich also includes anecdotes from an earlier time when he still lived in Vermont. Awakened one morning by the loud drumming of a male woodpecker on a nearby apple tree, the author wondered if perhaps he was seeking to attract a female. Surprisingly, when a female was drawn to the sound, he stopped drumming and flew away. The same behavior was repeated the following day. The authors observations led him to conclude that the bird's drumming was not part of a mating ritual but rather a noisy advertisement of his nest-building skills. Vireos nesting near his cabin allowed him to observe how they deliberately reduced the number of eggs they were hatching to accommodate the reduced food supply after an unseasonal freeze. Heinrich explains that bird-watching has been an important part of his life since he was a boy on his family's farm. When he was 6, they moved from Germany to Maine. Finding familiar birds nesting immediately made this place our home, he writes. An engaging memoir of the opportunities for doing scientific research without leaving one's own backyard. (Kirkus)
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Palindrome
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Pickpick

Heinrich‘s memoir of encounters with wild, winged creatures is revelatory. He focuses on anecdotal observation— as opposed to broad study of bands, bevies, broods, coveys, flocks, or gaggles— and the result is intimate and relatable. There are plenty of author-created black-and-white illustrations and a section of lovely color plates to gaze upon. All hail flycatchers and flickers, warblers and woodpeckers, hawks and harbingers of seasonal change!

Crazeedi I love the birds I get to watch , they make me happy 5mo
Palindrome You and Bernd may be birds of a feather! 🐦🐧🐤 5mo
Crazeedi @Palindrome I'm going to have to look for this book! I have many bird ps that visit, from Baltimore orioles to hummingbirds to pileated woodpeckers! And everything in between ! 5mo
Fridameetslucy I have only recently started bird watching but I have been drawing and sculpting birds (more as metaphors) for many years. Thank you. I‘m going to check it out. 5mo
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Simona
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Pickpick

Unusually, but interesting. You have to admire a man who spends hours/days watching birds and with mathematical precision make notes about their behavior. My only experiences with the birds are - feeding them in the wintertime ... and I found the book interesting and even in some parts amusing. I recommend a chapter or two before bedtime - to calm down. 😉

Aseleener My husband is a bird lover and got the audio of this. We listened to part if it on a car trip with our kids. It's great for if you want to know what a random wild bird is doing every five minutes for months. ;) My husband said, "Nobody can take the joy out of something quite as thoroughly as a scientist." 3y
Simona @Aseleener 😄I can agree with your husband, but one or two chapters a day is quite enough! 3y
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Owlizabeth
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Started a new pattern while listening to this short little book about birdwatching because I'm the oldest 35-year-old in the world. I really enjoy #audiocoloring and this book is lovely, so I might be 87 on the inside but that's okay. 😉👵🏻

Peddler410 😊 3y
LauraBrook I'm 38 and at least 87 on the inside. I've always been an "old lady", even when I was a kiddo! 3y
59 likes2 comments