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Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival (Winter and Summer Worlds #1)

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  2,640 Ratings  ·  202 Reviews
From flying squirrels to grizzly bears, and from 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 the environment to accommodate physical limitations, animals are adaptable to an amazing range of conditions.

Examining everything from food source
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ebook, 400 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Petra Eggs
Bernd Heinrich isn't a purist. When he takes off to live in the frozen Maine woods for the winter, he might chop wood for heat and cooking but drives into town for a bit of relief every now and again. So reading him is reading a balanced man which is one reason I like his books so much.

The main reason though is that these books go into such extreme detail, the absolute minutae of the natural life and explain it in well-written prose and his own pen & ink drawings. His world is one where evo
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Oct 03, 2012 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who cares about cold critters
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Michael Edwards
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 it…“by defying the odds and the laws of physics and proving that the fabul ...more
Rebecca Foster
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 ...more
Rosalie
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 tha ...more
Adam
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 fo ...more
David
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
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Charlene
Heinrich begins with an absolutely beautiful chapter that discusses how much energy a body needs to remain active and alive, how much energy the sun provides to Earth's organisms during various seasons, and questions how species can survive when the sun's energy is low. He spends the rest of the book examining the various ways in which all organisms are unquestionably linked to and governed by the planet atop which they live. Many animals have different ways of adapting to low energy and Heinric ...more
Julia
Jan 26, 2010 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I would agree with every other reviewer on this site that "Winter World" is a facinating read, accessible to a non-scientist, has gorgeous wildlife sketches by the author, and perfectly compliments a snowy day in my cold weather clime, I would add one other accolade to the pile: it completely changed the way I now look at the wild animals that share this frigid corner of Ohio with me, and made me respect them all the more. They are not beggars that live on the warm-heartedness of humans ...more
Sacha
Apr 20, 2014 Sacha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 the ...more
Clare O'Beara
This book reads like a companion volume to What Should A Clever Moose Eat? by John Pastor. We wander the north woods in deep winter, observing and studying and carrying out occasional experiments with the author and his students. Just when we think the adaptations of creatures can't get any odder, they do.

Rabbits burrow into the subnivian or under snow layer, tunnelling happily between trees to eat the bark off right up to the snow crust and invisible to predators. Colour-changing creatures tur
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Diane
Aug 05, 2008 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have had this book on my shelf for a few years. Yesterday, after receiving about 10" of snow here in New England, it seemed like the perfect reading choice for me. I curled up near the fireplace and front windows where the bird feeder sits, and watched some of my tiny feathered friends brave the elements to fill their bellies. I quickly became fascinated with the book: Winter World; Bernd Heinrich.

The author is a biologist, and an illustrator, and this book has the most wonderful hand drawn il
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Jen
This was truly what I'd call weird science. While it was fascinating at times, the author is just plain weird. In one moment, he's quoting fascinating scientific studies while explaining the biology of how frogs survive freezing in winter, and in the next he's calmly explaining that he determined the capacity of seeds that can fit into a chipmunk's mouth (how else?) by stuffing the cheek pouches of a roadkill chipmunk until they were completely full, then counting the seeds. Yep, because that's ...more
Amanda
Dec 05, 2014 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Karen
Mar 05, 2012 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I feel bad rating as 2 stars a book I didn't really like for the reason that it's not the type of book that I like, but whatever. I found it "OK" and Goodreads says if I only thought it was OK then it gets 2 stars from me. If you loved this book I would never fight you over it.

Long Story Short: This is probably a wonderful book that was just not for me, at least not for me during this particular January, when I was expecting I’d have some cozy dark-early winter times and got instead 80-degree we
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Andree Sanborn
I am getting closer to reading all of Heinrich's books. Each book leads me to more photographic quests and more reading from other sources. While reading this on my Kindle, I kept a running list of things to look for in the woods. The priority is Golden-crowned kinglets, a dime-sized bird that often flies with chickadees. I have heard them thousands of times and can easily recognize their calls. But few people have seen them because they are so small and elusive. Winter World describes the natur ...more
Sean
Sep 13, 2016 Sean marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition

This is the third of Heinrich's books that I've read, and so far it's been the least appealing. Now at the halfway point I'm bailing on it. Heinrich is always inching along a fine line between engaging narrative nonfiction and dry scientific observation. He writes memoir well, but can't help himself from slipping into highly technical description. This book teeters a little too often into that field of prose, and so the contrast with the more memoirish sections engenders a disjointed read. Mind
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Melissa
Feb 16, 2017 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read this in bits and pieces over the past few (winter) months, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Though it is pretty technical and scientific in parts, the overall feel is one of poetic marvel at the strength and ingenuity of these animals, who survive despite all odds through harsh winter conditions. I especially enjoyed the chapters on kinglets, honeybees, turtles, and bats and butterflies. I plan to read the summer companion to this book!

My only quibble with this book was the huge amount of ty
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Burd
May 03, 2016 Burd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book brought me back to my childhood. I was a science nerd from a very young age and at one time I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved animals so much. Things didn't quite work out that way. I became a nurse instead and never had any regrets about that, but my love for animals remains strong to this day. With that in mind, some readers may not find this book all that interesting. In my nerdy opinion, Winter World was fascinating and beautifully written. Heinrich examines h ...more
Murali Behara
What do I think? Very generous of Bernd Heinrich to share his knowledge through this book. I have to check his film called, "AN UNCOMMON CURIOSITY: at home & in nature with BERND HEINRICH". This is a book, rich with information about survival of life in the winter, that also reads like a novel.

Well, we all have curiosity, and the professionals (Science) take it to a certain level that helps expand our knowledge base. Knowing the fact that a kinglet weighs only 4-8 grams, and such incredible
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Jason Keisling
Jan 02, 2017 Jason Keisling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, biology
I enjoyed this book even though it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I purchased this book several months ago, but decided to wait until winter to read it so that it would line up seasonally and perhaps I could observe some of the animals I'd be reading about. I was very curious about how different animals survive winter and this book does contain a lot of good information on that. But the book also has a lot of the author's own anecdotes. He frequently describes walking through the woods in ...more
Stasia
Dec 31, 2011 Stasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 04-nonfiction
Animals are amazing! And this book is full of crazy examples of just why they're so amazing.

I was a little worried when I started and was confronted with a chapter called "A Note on Terms and Definitions," which was about as interesting as it sounds, but from there it went nowhere but up. Heinrich covers a whole bunch of different winter adaptations, from frogs who freeze solid for months at a time (that's a pretty crazy one), to super-arctic moths who live for THIRTEEN OR FOURTEEN years in larv
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Ellen
Jan 23, 2014 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook, nonfiction
I learned a great deal about animals in winter. Most of it was facinating. The author vacilated between storyteller and scientist. I had trouble with the scientific portions as my background is college level general biology from 40 years ago. The storyteller made up for the science that bogged down my reading. Learning about the changes that different animals go through in winter to cope with the cold weather just so they can survive to reproduce again was facinating. And how scientists and amat ...more
Jason
Jul 12, 2014 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 knowledge...but 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 emot ...more
Janice Williams
Dec 27, 2010 Janice Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am still reading this book and it will likely take me a while because of other responsibilities I have... but I read several pages each evening. I am not very knowledgable about science, but I love the things I am learning from this author about how animals survive in the winter. Things I always wondered about... There are helpful, beautiful drawings in the book too.

Anyone who wants to be more in-touch with nature and the creatures who live in the woods will find this book interesting. It is
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Christopher
Jan 29, 2013 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine book... very detailed, carefully written, and full of intriguing images and nuggets of information. I admire the extensive efforts of study, observation, and organization that Heinrich demonstrates in his exploration of the "winter world" in Vermont and Maine. I'm challenged to cultivate my own analogous level of careful attention to the complexity of nature, though I do now find myself increasingly mindful of New England's many creatures when I'm out running and walking in the snow. A gr ...more
Lydia Price
Grest information overall, but presented in a way that was hard for me to floow at times. I did not appreciate the extraneous stories that had nothin to do with the subject of the book (such as the story of the suthros father and how he took in a pet weasal)
Hapzydeco
Wonderful wintertime wandering depicting the life of everyday observed animals.
Jessica
Oct 08, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book for winter! I loved reading about how everyone, from bears to bees, copes with the cold, but I'm all the more convinced that humans just aren't made for these northern climes.
Pam Kennedy
I love visiting nature with this author. He slows it down and opens up its secrets for us. Reading this combined with a walk in the woods is heaven!
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Nature Literature: Winter World discussion (alternate Dec. BOTM) 11 9 Dec 20, 2014 05:02PM  
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  • Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators
  • Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish
  • A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals
  • The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth
  • Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur
  • Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures
  • Of Wolves and Men
  • The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live & Why They Matter
  • Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion
  • Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions
  • The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint
  • For Love of Insects
  • The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior
  • Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
  • Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks
  • The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behaviour
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Bernd Heinrich was born in Germany (April 19, 1940) and moved to Wilton, Maine as a child. He studied at the University of Maine and UCLA and is Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Vermont.

He is the author of many books including Winter World, Ravens in Winter, Mind of the Raven and Why We Run. Many of his books focus on the natural world just outside the cabin door.

Heinrich has w
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More about Bernd Heinrich...

Other Books in the Series

Winter and Summer Worlds (2 books)
  • Summer World: A Season of Bounty

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“We gauge what we think is possible by what we know from experience, and our acceptance of scientific insights, in particular, is incremental, gained one experience at a time.” 3 likes
“By providing safe nesting sites, woodpeckers are thus keystone organisms for a vast assemblage of birds the world over, including many owls, parrots, parids, flycatchers.” 0 likes
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