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Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival Audible – Unabridged

4.6 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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