In Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival, biologist, illustrator, and award-winning author Bernd Heinrich explores his local woods, where he delights in the seemingly infinite feats of animal inventiveness he discovers there. Because winter drastically affects the most elemental component of all life---water---radical changes in a creature's physiology and behavior must take place to match the demands of the environment. Some creatures survive by developing antifreeze; others must remain in constant motion to maintain their high body temperatures. Even if animals can avoid freezing to death, they must still manage to find food in a time of scarcity or store if from a time of plenty. Infused by the author's inexhaustible enchantment with nature, Winter World awakens the wonders and mysteries by which nature sustains herself through winter's harsh, cruel exigencies.
©2003 Bernd Heinrich; (P)2009 Tantor
beautifully narrated and very interesting. i loved it so much i listened to it twice in a row! i adore nature books and this one had me listening intently the whole time. i really liked how the story is told so the scientific data is easy to understand and not loaded with confusing jargon.
Say something about yourself!
My first attempt to listen did not go well. I was put off by the heavy science and chemistry mentioned at the beginning. I wanted to hear how the little creatures hide from the snow, wind, rain and cold -- not a bleeping chemistry lesson! Seriously, this book is non-fiction and requires something of the listener. When I finally settled down to listen, after the first big snow here in Tahoe, the listening was wonderful! I'm involved in wildlife rehab, after all. I have a collection of bird figurines -- some Lalique -- from my mom and grandmother. One day I wondered if either of them knew much about real birds. I have childhood memories of Mom pointing to cedar waxwings outside our window in Southern California. At the wildlife center I put eye-droppers of green glop in the gaping mouths of tiny birds, playing mom without knowing anything much at all! For shame! Now Prof. Heinrich's book has helped me get a booted foot into the door of this interesting study. He talks a lot about the winsome kinglets, and my bird guide says they live in the Tahoe area, so that's a start.
The author is a sweet man. Nothing offends my vegan sensibilities. He apologizes for killing a few birds in order to investigate their stomach contents. Evidently this was a study no one else had yet done. Or not done well. We get glimpses of his life and lifestyle, the frequent walks in the woods and his note-taking, checking up on all the life. The section on honey bees and their poop and venturing out of a hive in very cold weather because they need to poop -- pretty neat! A bit more than I thought I wanted to know, but this is an important time to understand other forms of life as never before! Bears are my special interest, and that chapter only made me ask why bears can hibernate and wake in the spring all ready to run and climb and do their lives, whereas astronauts and old ladies who knit must get exercise or waste away. The 7 hibernating bears here do get up, walk around, even play a bit, and then back to cuddle in the corner. Amazing!
Heinrich's writing style is not quite poetic, but very nice. It flows smoothly, including measurements and statistics, but remaining quite human at the same time. I can't imagine someone faulting this book for not including this or that other animal or aspect of winter survival. Heinrich has given us a full dose of what he has seen and what excites his admiration. The narrator does a fine job. Lovely! A for-sure re-re-listen.
The book gives a lot of interesting information. It is well presented. It's just not what I was expecting. Rather than sticking with a straight "scientific" style, the author included a lot of personal anecdotes. They were all relevant to the discussion, and it was quite enjoyable. All in all, the book was a personal journey towards scientific knowledge, rather than a dry recollection of facts.
I first read this book about eight years ago, and though it is still on my shelf I did not hesitate to purchase the audio version. While this is highly informative regarding wildlife and nature, this is also such a lovely example of well done prose that I find when I need inspiration for writing or want to clear my head and think better this book does it.
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