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The Homing Instinct: Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration
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The Homing Instinct: Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  125 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Acclaimed scientist and author Bernd Heinrich has returned every year since boyhood to a beloved patch of western Maine woods. What is the biology in humansof this deep-in-the-bones pull toward a particular place, and how is it related to animal homing?

Heinrich explores the fascinating science chipping away at the mysteries of animal migration:how geese imprint true visual
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published April 1st 2010)
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From the title of Bernd Heinrich’s new book, The Homing Instinct, I was expecting a scientific exploration of the migratory behaviors of birds and other creatures that embark on long journeys to and from their breeding grounds, but I found, along with science, an introspective look into the nature and the need to return home. Mixed in with the science, both the author’s own research and that of other scientists, I discovered a beautifully written book consisting of many stories and observations, ...more
Finally! It took me a while to get through this, but I was distracted, between big life events and many of the other books I want to read, have started to read, or finished reading since my last post. This is the first Bernd Heinrich book for me to read; I had been wanting to read something by him for a while. At first I wasn’t sure, but I think this was a good one to start with. It is a collection of loosely related pieces. About half of the book is about the science of migration, and the othe ...more
I’ve always been fascinated by the homing instinct, and particularly the history of science being unable to completely explain how it works. So I appreciated the opportunity to read Heinrich’s new book all about the homing instinct.

And it is all about the homing instinct. Quite a lot, even for a reader so interested in the subject. Birds, animals, insects, amphibians, humans are all included. I appreciate and agree with his predicating his descriptions of the creatures with, “I realize that this
Animal behavior: Migration and homing instincts

This is an interesting book by Bernd Heinrich, a renowned scholar that discusses interesting facts about animal migration and their attachments for their habitats. The book is largely focused on behavior with no discussion of genetics as it relates to the behavior, and no prior knowledge of biology is required to understand and appreciate this book.

Homemaking is practiced by animals regardless of their position in the evolutionary ladder. It is es
Stuart Malcolm
I had high hopes for this from the title but was sorely disappointed. A mishmash of information, presented poorly. The autobiographical chapters were self-indulgent and the hunting one was just appalling. Some of the wildlife writing was good but there just wasn't enough of it, which is why ultimately it was such a let down.
I expected a book on bird migration, and was fine when Heinrich turned to bees and sea turtles, but was perplexed by the chapters on the spider that lived over his desk, annual deer hunting with his buddies in Maine, and the reintroduction of American chestnut trees to his property. Heinrich did have interesting takes on several topics related to the broad theme of "home". I liked this comment about sending astronauts to the moon: " had a transforming effect on them, because from space they ...more
Sep 12, 2014 J. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: vine
We're familiar with birds migrating even if we don't know exactly how they get to precise places each year. We also know that salmon can find their way back to the same rivers and lakes where they were born, and eels do that in reverse, being born in the ocean and spending their lives in rivers before returning to the ocean to spawn. But these behaviors extend to many other animals and in different ways. Some butterflies migrate, and even though they may not complete the journey, their offspring ...more
The homing instinct of birds, insects, and mammals is inexplicable, something only the Grand Designer (a view to which author Heinrich would disagree) can fully know how and what and why... Anyway, an interesting and informative read. But I do have one query at the back of my mind: how can a nature lover, animal advocate, wildlife artist,and professional naturalist take up a rifle, stalk a young deer and shoot it dead, gut it out right there in the woods, and fry its meat as steak? Right, compli ...more
I love Bernd Heinrich's books and this one is no exception. He winds seemingly unrelated threads into a cohesive story to show that humans are not necessarily all that different from other animals and how they define and find their home. Both the science and his passion are thoroughly relatable.
Another fine offering from Bernd Heinrich, these essays on creating home, finding home, the evolutionary advantages and disadvantages of having a home, and the meaning of home for different species, including human beings, illuminates, entertains, educates, and invites further discussion. A good choice for book clubs.
Robin Tierney
Some very interesting migration and homing-related chapters. Would have like to read about more species and less about the author's personal recollections, some of which weren't really related to homing and migration.
Brend Heinrich is naturalist, woodsman, outdoorsman and scientist. While I'm not a fan of his writing style, this is a very compelling book. Heinrich ties human behavior to that of other species. He has a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all life. A host of animals, from insects, to birds, to mammals, illustrates the message. The meaning of home and why it matters is central. Highly recommended.
I really wanted to like this book since I find the topic fascinating but the writing was so bad that it was almost painful to read and I finally gave up. I hope he gets a ghost-writer for his next book....
Sylvia Walker
All of Bernd Heinrich's books are wonderful! His writing is so approachable and engaging, I learn so much from his works without even trying. This book is about migration, not only of birds, but insects and animals, too, and also about what home means to humans.
This book was full of information about animal and human migration and homing, many examples given to add to the readers understanding. Birds insects eels to name a few
I enjoyed this author's book about winter. So, I searched for other titles. I didn't enjoy the book on summer as much. But, this one was very good.
I, for one, enjoyed both the longer and detailed explorations of bird migration and waxings poetic about the author's personal hunting property equally-- the narrative personal experience gives the science an emotional weight... not a distortion, but a parallel between human experience and that of the broader community of life.
This book examines homing instincts and the idea of home in various species around the world. It took awhile for me to finish, but I did finish it. That alone is testament to its writing because I actually had very little to no interest in birds or bees (not to be confused with the birds and the bees, that interests me) previously. (Then why did I read it? An untouched library book that won an award is not something I'm willing to pass up.) Hopefully I'll retain some of the knowledge in this boo ...more
Mary Leith
Another great Heinrich book, with his close observations of nature. The many signals in nature that send animals into the migration mode, nesting mode or whatever it is time for are discussed here. He's such a naturalist, and I always learn what I need to watch more closely when reading his books!
Sep 01, 2014 Teresa marked it as to-read
Shelves: sciences
Inspiration to read: NYTBR Aug 10 2014
I initially gave the book two stars, because I learned little that I did not already know from my background in animal behavior. However, the thoughtful epilogue, in which the author brought together threads of his family history and his connection with the land in Maine, won me over. My second favorite aspect of the book was the story of how Heinrich matched up the apple tree he found with the historical photos. Otherwise, I felt like this book lacked the brilliance that occasionally flashes fr ...more
Derek Nichols
Great perspective on what it means to "home" and be human.
Muriel Anderson
not as much on bird migration as I had expected by the cover
Don  Kent
This author does a good job explaining current theory regarding animal migration and homing but his discussion of his personal history in Maine detracts significantly from the overall value of the book.
A nice read for those like me who are amused by what the nature has in her folds, and the way creatures are engineered to work flawlessly round the clock and their innumerable instincts!!!

The sections on animals, particularly animal migration, were very interesting. The sections on his own home in the Maine woods didn't appeal to me as much, especially the parts on hunting.
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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 about Bernd Heinrich...
Winter World Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds Why We Run: A Natural History A Year in the Maine Woods Ravens in Winter

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