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Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival Paperback – Bargain Price, April 7, 2009

60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

There cannot be many people who have gone into a beavers' lodge. Heinrich, professor of biology at the University of Vermont, did that in his quest to see how animals survive winter. It was a summer when the pond had dried up and the beavers were not in residence, but with a flashlight and room enough to turn around, Heinrich was able to conclude that the accommodation would be quite cozy for a beaver family in winter. Similarly trying to see for himself as much as possible, he describes the winter survival strategies of many animals. He marvels in particular at the success of the golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa), a bird "scarcely larger than a ruby-throated hummingbird" that remains active all through the winters of Maine and Alaska, its life "played out on the anvil of ice and under the hammer of deprivation." The kinglet, he says, symbolizes the "astounding and ingenious strategies that animals have evolved for coping in the winter world."

Editors of Scientific American --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061129070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061129070
  • ASIN: B002WTC94C
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,602,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernd Heinrich is a biologist and author of numerous books on the natural world. He lives in Richmond, VT, and in a cabin in the forests of western Maine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 60 people found the following review helpful By David W. Straight on February 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Clark on February 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By jlusa on February 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has walked in Thoreau's footprints and who can appreciate clear scientific thought will enjoy this detailed explanation of the fauna of the woods during winter. Heinrich has given us a wonderful tour of animals in wintertime, covering their habitats, physiology and evolutionary adaptations.
A word of caution - this is not a book for people seeking warm fuzzy feelings about cute furry little creatures. It is a book about reality in its full splendor.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Raymondjack on January 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book because, living in the northeast, I wondered what happened to all of the animals in wintertime. Which ones hibernate? Which ones migrate? Which ones die? And I wasn't disappointed. Heinrich provides ample explanations, in understandable language, of what happens to squirrels, birds, insects, turtles, trees, and others (although there isn't much about fish). He is also a fantastic nature writer, weaving simple but elegant stories in and out of the science, stories mostly set in his two main observation sites, Vermont and Maine. And the overriding theme of the whole book is the battle of animals to regulate their temperatures and metabolisms to avoid freezing, in the harsh food conditions of winter. This is good introductory reading for anyone with questions about winter survival.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on February 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Working at a historic house, I often comment to visitors that it's difficult to fathom how people survived the New England winter before the advent of central heating. As for animals..... how do they DO that, with no houses or heating at all?
Snapping turtles, the couch potatoes of the predator world. Snow fleas?? The food storage systems of squirrels. Jays gluing food to tree branches. Natural antifreeze? These and countless other wonders, taking place unnoticed right outside our own windows, are examined and explained in Winter World. This is a book that can be read as a whole, or, perhaps more practically, by delving into relevant chapters as curiosity dictates. It would make a great gift for science teachers or animal/nature enthusiasts. Definitely a book to be kept readily at hand, along with those bird and wildflower handbooks. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Newton Ooi on July 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book describes terrestrial life in the cold reaches of the world, emphasis on the forests of Canada and the Northern states of the USA. The text is written in first person in a diary format of the author traveling thru and living in winter environments. This format is punctuated with occassional asides to elaborate on scientific issues. The colors are black and white illustrations which are unfortunate for a nature book, but it does keep the purchase price down.

The book itself starts of somewhat slow, but is interesting enough to keep you going. The author describes how various animals living in cold climates have evolved to survive and even succeed. I learned many things in this book that I was unaware of. For instance, birds and mammals are not "warm blooded" in the strictest sense of the word. Specifically, many birds and mammals have body temperatures that fluctuate in cycles to keep track with outside temperatures. Man has a 24-hour cycles to match day-night transitions; during this cycle our body temperature changes by 1 - 3 degrees Fahrenheit. Bears and other hibernating mammals have seasonal cycles to match the change in seasons. The body temperature of a hibernating bear can be 20 - 40 degrees lower than that of an active bear.

Conversely, many other animals that are considered "cold-blooded" in most high-school science textbooks actually are not. For example, a lot of insects living in cold climates will huddle together and shiver to keep their body temperature elevated above the ambient temperature.

Overall, I am glad I read this book, and would recommend it to other people.
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