books pdf Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal SurvivalAuthor Bernd Heinrich –

2.5 stars Someday, Goodreads will add half stars.So, I thought this book had a lot of interesting information While technical and tedious at times, I fully appreciate all of the information here there was definitely a ton Yay science Animals have some amazing adaptations to get through winter and I learned a lot I loved the kinglet stuff no wonder they were the inspiration for this book.I struggled with the author s overall tone though I guess his methods and reasoning Kidnapping a flying squirrel, ripping food a duck out of a snapping turtle s mouth then depicting it as a monster , keeping a baby snapping turtle to watch it freeze who knew if that was going to turn out well , shooting bats with his dad so others could see them and appreciate them it all just didn t sit well with me He seemed kind of cocky and condescending at times, and this whole contact encouraged philosophy for the sake of just touching things because he felt like it eh It made the book less enjoyable for me.But hey, kinglets are pretty amazing. There are a ton of nature books these days, written by would be modern day Thoreaus and Carsons, people who sell self congratulatory identity affirmations to environmentalists sensu lato Those books take two tacks sentimental glorification of nature in lush prose, and an issue specific jeremiad I have read a ton of both, and I still love some of the best ones an awful lot Barry Lopez, in the former camp But after reading those formulas so much, and turning those values over in my head for several years, I am no longer really interested in the politics of nature at least not the entry level stuff So it s rather a relief to find a book of natural history that isn t preoccupied with selling its readers on the value of its subject matter, and that doesn t feel the need to soapbox about environmental crises.Winter World is just Heinrich doing science, observing the forest around his cabin, asking questions, then seeking out existing research and performing experiments to try and answer them It s a rare book in that it is as much about modeling a lifestyle and a mode of engagement as it is about the didactic fulfillment of curiosity The closest analogue I ve read is Hannah Holmes Suburban Safari, also a book of natural history anecdotes, questions, and research united only by its theme Heinrich s prose is simple and serviceable, never overblown and always careful He doesn t feel the need to provide generalizable take home answers to any of the questions that might inspire readers to seek out the book All the answers are context specific and often are simply that the answer is context specific How do kinglets make it through the winter Well, a lot of them don t, but the ones that do achieve it by finding enough caterpillars, flocking with other birds for warmth and information, and never getting caught without decent shelter on the coldest nights It s a good reminder that, when we ask our questions idly, we tend to oversimplify, satisfying ourselves with conclusions that don t reflect the majority of an organism s circumstances I am an arrogant boy and I have been learning about this stuff long enough that it took me off guard how many seemingly basic facts of natural history I had either been ignorant of or simply never considered Birds nests were a minor revelation, a focus on something I d known in an abstract sense for a while Kinglets construct nests from moss and spidersilk There is this whole little economy of discarded body parts, ships made from toenail clippings and houses built from beetle shells and such Turtles bury themselves in mud and hold their breath all winter Beavers freeze all their food in a pile under the frozen surface of their pond, just going back and forth from the larder to the dam all winter They never see the sun, so their circadian rhythms get all screwed up, like college students on holiday vacation Insects use dozens of means to survive the winter, overwintering as eggs larvae, pupae, or adults, and variously using dehydration, antifreeze and supercooling, controlled freezing, or shelter to avoid death by ice crystal I ll be looking for overwintering insects in the forest this winter break. From Award Winning Writer And Biologist Bernd Heinrich, An Intimate, Accessible And Eloquent Illumination Of Animal Survival In WinterFrom Flying Squirrels To Grizzly Bears, Torpid Turtles To Insects With Antifreeze, The Animal Kingdom Relies On Some Staggering Evolutionary Innovations To Survive Winter Unlike Their Human Counterparts, Who Must Alter Their Environment To Accommodate Our Physical Limitations, Animals Are Adaptable To An Amazing Range Of Conditions Ie Radical Changes In A Creature S Physiology Take Place To Match The Demands Of The Environment Winter Provides An Especially Remarkable Situation, Because Of How Drastically It Affects The Most Elemental Component Of All Life WaterExamining Everything From Food Sources In The Extremely Barren Winter Landscape To The Chemical Composition That Allows Certain Creatures To Survive, Heinrich S Winter World Awakens The Largely Undiscovered Mysteries By Which Nature Sustains Herself Through The Harsh, Cruel Exigencies Of Winters This book gave me a new understanding and appreciation of what winter is like for small animals in the Northern hemisphere There are some truly impressive feats of evolution at work here, and it was cool to learn about that But Bernd Heinrich s views and methods are sometimes difficult for me to read about He kills a lot of animals insects, turtles, birds, rodents in order to learn about them, and I understand that that is often the cost of knowledge He just doesn t seem to acknowledge that there s anything morally grey about it, and that was hard to take for an entire book When discussing the applications of freezing tolerance research to the field of human cryogenics, he cringes It is pure research, that which has no practical implication whatsoever, that enlivens the human spirit the most, he says So I guess it s OK for him to freeze, thaw, and re freeze baby turtles until they die, just to satisfy an intellectual itch, but as soon as it could be useful to human society, THAT S science going to far It just rubbed me the wrong way. As with other books of MR Heinrich s I have read, this one was very anecdotal I question his methods and reasoning Such as the whole business of banging axes on trees to make birds fly in an already calorie stressed environment Or climbing up a tree and flushing out flying squirrels, then touching them, for the reason only of touching them I feel like I read the words of a man who has grown enough to learn and know better and yet frequently acts upon the impulses if a small boy Perhaps there was scientific process, left out to add to the readability I hope so. How do animals survive in the winter The Arctic ground squirrel hibernates in the winter, and digs himself a small hole and sleeps there for 11 months each year Its body temperature drops to 2 to 2.9 C, though in the laboratory, its blood plasma freezes at those temperatures Once a month its body temperature rises to around 30 C for about a day, during which the squirrel experiences REM sleep Why does its temperature rise, which uses up half of its available fat energy supply How does the tiny kinglet bird survive in the Arctic, at subfreezing temperatures where does it find food when the ground is covered with a thick layer of snow These mysteries and many are explored in this fascinating book The book tries to explain many mysteries of evolution, such as why did bird feathers evolve Probably as a means for heat insulation, not as a means for flight Bernd Heinrich is a wonderful storyteller His books are highly recommended to anybody interested in biology. OK this is the 2nd book of Heinrich s I ve tried to read and could just not get through..and it is too bad I think he is an excellent writer with some great naturalist scientific knowledgebut I find his behavior described rather scientifically irresponsible He seems to constantly just grab baby animals from the wild and raise them as pets to learn about I m assuming maybe hopefully that he has a permit to do this, but he never describes any of that His writing is too pretty and emotional where I feel some actual scientific information now and then would make things a lot clear Oh well. If you liked this book, you might also enjoy It s like spending a couple of weeks with Bernd in his isolated cabin in Maine, ungrudgingly shared with deer mice an assortment of bugs, all part of it A remarkable man who s sole purpose is to answer all your questions and while he s at it renew your sense of wonder in nature s complexity If you ve grown up with brutal winters and are at all tuned into nature you must have questioned how on earth animals survive itby defying the odds and the laws of physics and proving that the fabulous is possibleWhy do birds flock and why only come winter How do bears, instead of suffering from muscle loss like we would after 6 months of lying around, just wake up, stretch casually walk up a mountain How do tiny fragile birds like chickadee s not freeze at 40 below And what about those little red squirrels, are they insane Why are they running around in subzero temperatures instead of hibernating along with the rest of the squirrel kingdom Always focusing on cold weather survival mechanisms he covers a lot of territory for such a short book, touching on everything from flying squirrels, bats butterflies to snakes and turtles He includes his own illustrations, pencil sketches I believe, a really nice touch.This isn t dumbed down so be prepared to pay attention Most of it I got though admittedly he lost me on super cooling The memoir of a biologist, the style is concise factual but with just enough of a lyrical touch to get a feel for him, a quiet understated style that still manages to relay his passion My 1st Bernd and I want Summer World A Season of Bounty I think next, I intend on reading all his booksFine feathery snow crystals drift down There is not a breath of moving air The sharp clean smell of this new snow prickles my senses and excites Within a minute I stand at the edge of the pond feeling peace, and just barely hearing the tinkling of snow crystals falling on my jacket They amplify the stillness This great seasonal read carefully pitches science to the level of the layman Heinrich surveys various strategies animals use for surviving the winter caching food, huddling together, hibernating or entering torpor, and lowering their body temperature even to the point where 50% of their body water is ice, as with hibernating frogs There is no magic It is a matter of details of getting everything just right He was particularly curious to know how kinglets survived in freezing conditions For this and other investigations, he carried out ever so slightly gruesome experiments that make him sound like a lovably nutty professor To find out how quickly a fully feathered kinglet loses body heat, I experimentally heated a dead kinglet and then measured its cooling rate My naked plucked kinglet had a 2.5 rapid cooling rate than fully feathered ones Due to its small size, a kinglet would also cool approximately sixty times faster than a naked 150 pound pig Yes, he knows from experience To get a rough idea of whether the flying squirrel s nest indeed affords much insulation, I heated a potato to simulate the body of a squirrel and examined its cooling rates.I do not know how many seeds a chipmunk usually packs into each of its two pouches I easily inserted sixty black sunflower seeds through the mouth into just one pouch of a roadkill.Some years ago, I took on the brave, or foolish, task of measuring hornets body temperatures, grabbing and stabbing them with an electronic thermometer as they left their nests.Heinrich is an emeritus professor of biology at the University of Vermont and has or had at the time of this book a rather primitive cabin in Maine In many ways his life sounds enviable His passion for knowledge carries through in his writing I learned a lot from reading this, and came away with a fresh sense of wonder at how species are adapted to their environments Much that animals have evolved to do would have seemed impossible to us, if experience has not taught us otherwise.