Ravens in Winter
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Ravens in Winter

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  413 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Why should ravens--which are usually solitary birds--share valuable food in the dead of winter? How clever are these birds? Do they have a language? These are some of the riddles that noted sociobiologist Bernd Heinrich, author of Bumblebee Economics and winner of the John Burroughs Medal, explores in this intriguing book. 16 pages of drawings.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1989)
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The author starts with reports that he has heard, that ravens share their food. And he wonders, "why?" Why, indeed. He formulates dozens of hypotheses that could explain this sharing. And yet, he is not even sure whether or not they truly do share their food.

So the author begins a long, painstaking process of experiments and observations of ravens in the wild. In the wintertime, when it is often below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in blizzards! His experiments are carefully conducted, and he slowly...more
A wonderful book. I first became interested in ravens when one 'adopted' us at our home in the Santa Monica Mountains in southern California, very far from the frozen Maine woods, making a clumsy landing outside our house.

He had been a captive bird as there was a remnant of a jess about one leg and he seemed quite tame. Without accounting the story of 'Black Boy's summer with us, he was an engaging, freewheeling companion who never stopped surprising us with his antics and aptitude for play, in...more
Paul Haspel
The raven is a fascinating bird. It plays an important role in the Bible (Noah sent out a raven before he sent out a dove), it appears in different cultural traditions from Norse myth to Native American folklore, and it inspired one of the greatest American poems, Edgar Allan Poe's “The Raven.” In Ravens in Winter, Bernd Heinrich describes how he left his teaching position at the University of Vermont, repeatedly trekked to a remote Maine forest, and sought to draw scientific conclusions regardi...more
The author of this book provides an important (and much-needed) view into the scientific process. Many of us might have an idea about how a laboratory scientist works, but how can someone come up with scientifically-based understanding of animal behavior? Bernd Heinrich takes us along as he spends the first four winters of an ongoing project observing recruiting behavior among ravens. Who knew at the outset that our intrepid scientist would have to cruise slaughterhouses for hundreds of pounds o...more
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a long time. I actually started to read it a couple of years ago but got distracted, put it down and never picked it back up. Roll forward to the day I'm running out to the door to the train (on my way to a less than loved job) and saw this book on the shelf. So I grabbed it and am very, very happy I did so because it is one of the best--fiction or non-fiction-- I've read in quite awhile.

Written by a biologist in the 80's it is an interesting study of...more
David R.
Professor Henrich conducted a four-year field study of raven behavior in Maine during winters in the mid-1980s. This book is a recounting of the day-to-day discoveries. The information content is very high, if irregularly systematic, but so is the repetitive nature of the logbook. In little time the narrative is an eyeglazing contiuum of cold observation conditions, dead animals used as bait, and ravens picking at carcasses and making various and sundry calls. It has also been some years since t...more
Ugh, really really REALLY wanted to like this book!! My 2nd Bernd Heinrich book and sadly, this one was no better than the other one I read. He just focuses way too much on tiny details and not on the bigger picture, and I really wanted to read this book to learn about what types of birds ravens are... not hear about how he sat in a hunting cabin in Maine for hours and watched them fly over a carcass and pass him by. After 100 pages of waiting for it to get better, I gave up. Read like a scienti...more
The book is a little gem for delineating the drudgery, the determination, and the rigor involved in doing this kind of field research. The author had to overcome so much confusion and frustration, and it was his ability to consider other methodologies and competing hypotheses, that--in the end--saved him and the project. I came away with enormous respect for this man and for what he accomplished. His love for his subjects and for the beautiful country he so lovingly described was inspiring.
Eric Bingham
This book was a GREAT look into the scientific method being used to solve a specific question. The author does a great job of giving a very detailed look into how he designs and tests different hypothesi, and how research is done. It did get a little too detailed in some spots, and tended to drag a bit. It became highly repetitious in other spots (I guess there's only so much that one guy can say about ravens...in winter...) It did increase my intrest in and respect for this bird though.
I work with scientists but never understood the drive that causes them to research. Ravens in Winter really draws you into the whole thought process of how a research identifies his subject, how he slowly gathers the evidence and then presents. The outcome of this book is not the interesting part rather it's Heinrich trial and error method of tracking down the information that is so fascinating.
I am always disappointed by Heinrich's books (Animals in Winter). I like the subject matter, but this book especially reads like a journal. It is interesting to see the development of his research, but a little boring as well. I guess I was hoping for a more comprehensive look a ravens and not just focusing on their feeding/recruitment habits. Still good, just not as good as I was hoping.
A very good book, if you're a biology nerd. I'm not even a true biology nerd, but I enjoyed this book immensely. My ex-girlfriend refuses to return this book despite my repeated requests, so I think that is also another vote of support for this book. The Mind of the Raven however is my preferred tome on this subject and bird, also written by the same author.
Nita Galambos
It was an interesting read but it was very repetitive. It seemed like the book was written to appease his fellow scientists. While this goal is sensible, it felt like he could have achieved that end and still kept the text more interesting for laymen/women. Still, where it's good it's really good. At times Heinrich's prose is astonishingly beautiful.
Another favorite natural history book. It took me a little longer to warm up to this one--at first the issues seemed pointless-- but who couldn't fall in love with an author who will get up before dawn and stand in the top of a pine tree in a blizzard, waiting to see from which direction the ravens will come?
J.D. Holman
Interesting. I learned a lot about ravens. The author is an interesting fellow, going great lengths to study ravens.
Jan 05, 2013 Sally rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: birds, own
I would recommend this book primarily to birders. It might seem dry to those who aren't avid bird watchers. The author worked extremely hard to learn everything he could about ravens but his enthusiasm and love of his subject shine through.
Mar 01, 2012 Raven rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
A wonderful, informative book. Not only is Bernd Heinrich a fantastic biologist, he also is a wonderful writer and human being who is able to illustrate the majesty, intelligence and adaptability of the Raven. I rate this book a 5 out of 5!
Jan 14, 2013 Karen marked it as to-read
I am loving this book so far. Have meant to read it for years. Ravens are my very favorite bird, so I have an affinity for the subject matter, but Heinrich presents his line of scientific inquiry with such passion and humor, it's hard not to love.
This is by one of my favorite non fiction authors. An excellent walk through of his experiments with Corvus Corax in the winter. He was investigating recruitment where a raven or ravens bring other ravens to a food source.
I really enjoyed both of Heinrich's books on ravens. Ravens are a fascinating subject in and of themselves, and Heinrich is a good writer, explaining scientific subjects in a way that non-scientists can understand too.
Sep 08, 2008 Elvira rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nature nuts
since i am a bird nut, this is great! this guy is trying to figure out if ravens share food in winter. wow, i think i am going to read all of his books. now i want to go and see ravens!
This book is a classic of natural history. He sees puzzling animal behavior, he can't explain it, he works on it for a few years and finally figures it out. Great.
Kate Cleland-sipfle
Sep 08, 2007 Kate Cleland-sipfle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: birders and nature lovers
Enjoyable learning experience about ravens by a curious and scientific observer who can share his observations and interpretations in layman's English.
Ravens are complicated. This book is a little slow and clumsily paced, but the revelations about ravens that emerge are pretty amazing.
Absolutely astounding. I've always loved ravens, but I found an entirely new appreciation for them after reading Heinrich's account.
I wish I could have every one of my students read this book! A marvelous story, and a great insight into the TRUE scientific process.
Denise Johnson
Nov 09, 2008 Denise Johnson rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Denise by: bill
ravens are the most wonderful, playful, curious , clever birds.

I wish to be one in my next life.
Robert Giambo
Gives the reader a real sense of the work of a naturalist as he formulates and tests hypotheses about ravens.
A great book for the raven/crow fan, and that would be me. I love to read about their ways.
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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 Emeriti 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 wo...more
More about Bernd Heinrich...
Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds Why We Run: A Natural History A Year In The Maine Woods Summer World: A Season of Bounty

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