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Winter World


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About the Author

The author of numerous bestselling and award-winning books, Bernd Heinrich is a professor of biology at the University of Vermont. He divides his time between Vermont and the forests of western Maine.


This account of how wild animals survive in cold winters is based in large part on the writer's own astute observations of the behavior of a variety of species of birds, squirrels, mice, insects, and other creatures. Heinrich (biology, Univ. of Vermont; Mind of the Raven) has a cabin and property in the Maine woods, which often serves as a living laboratory for him and his students. One of his special interests, which he discusses at length here, is how the tiny golden-crowned kinglet, a bird not much larger than a hummingbird, survives the long, harsh winters of New England. Heinrich is constantly observing and asking questions about what he sees, giving readers an inside glimpse at the workings of science and nature. At times, he also relates the research of other scientists, always in understandable English. A more scholarly, less personal treatment of this subject is provided by Peter J. Marchand's Life in the Cold: An Introduction to Winter Ecology, now in its third edition. Heinrich's book is recommended for public and undergraduate college libraries.-William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

How do bears, bees, frogs and other creatures stay alive in a barren, subzero landscape? A veteran natural history author and University of Vermont biology professor, Heinrich (Mind of the Raven) uses the New England winter as a laboratory for investigating the adaptability and evolution of animals. In short, dense, lucid chapters that will intrigue both natural history buffs and neophytes, Heinrich discusses the survival strategies-such as hibernation and nest building-of mammals, birds and reptiles. He shows how bears endure months of hibernation without losing muscle mass or bone density, how an air-breathing snapping turtle survives six months at the bottom of a frozen pond and how honeybees keep the temperature in their hives at a balmy 36 degrees Celsius no matter how cold it is outside. The narrative is full of exuberant first-person observations from Heinrich's walks through the Maine and Vermont woods ("I hit the tree with an ax. One flying squirrel with huge black eyes and soft gray pelage popped its head out.... After I started to climb the tree I saw three heads looking out. No-it was four!"), and he reflects on such subjects as the ethics of hunting and the implications of animal survival strategies-particularly the bear's ability to stay in shape without exercise-for human health. Throughout the book, Heinrich returns to the example of the mysterious golden-crowned kinglet, a bird whose tiny body-not much bigger than a walnut-loses heat so quickly that it seems to defy the rules of winter survival, and whose perseverance symbolizes the improbable, miraculous feats of endurance of all the animals of the north. Nature lovers will delight in this lively, fascinating study. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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