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Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,519 ratings  ·  419 reviews
In Mind of the Raven, Bernd Heinrich, award-winning naturalist, finds himself dreaming of ravens and decides he must get to the truth about this animal reputed to be so intelligent.

Much like a sleuth, Heinrich involves us in his quest, letting one clue lead to the next. But as animals can only be spied on by getting quite close Heinrich adopts ravens, thereby becoming a "
Paperback, 380 pages
Published April 5th 2000 by Ecco Press (first published 1994)
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BOO Each to their own opinion. But , did you read the section on the survival rate of fledglings in the wild, in their first months? Just the one sample b…moreEach to their own opinion. But , did you read the section on the survival rate of fledglings in the wild, in their first months? Just the one sample but it was 5 out of 6 dead and 1 missing. So it's an interesting question what was "harm" here. As I read it, he eventually releases all the birds to the wild. So those that he "robbed" had a hugely increased chance of reaching wild adulthood. Not being a vegetarian myself, I really don't think I can complain about the morality of Bernd Heinrichs actions vs. me eating a chicken, or an egg. (less)

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Petra: all work & no play makes you poor.On hiatus
Fascinating things you learn in books that may save your life one day if you are stuck in the woods (or not). Now I know how to climb a tree so tall that the branches don't even begin until 60-80 feet up.

1. Attach a fine monofilament line, anchored to the ground, to an arrow which you fire over the crown of the tree.
2. When the arrow is fired, standing in the original place, attach a much thicker line to the line you had fixed to the ground.
3. Go to where the arrow is now, the other side of th
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

It’s a mix of personal anecdotes, scientific study, and speculation. Heinrich loves and respects these birds. He knows as much or more about them than anyone.

The writing is not particularly ordered, but it’s likable and I learned some things. I’m still not sure if the charm is in the telling or the ravens.
Back at the end of April I went for a walk a few miles from where I live. Passing a steeply wooded area I noticed a buzzard circling, when a raven came out from the trees and attacked it. I surmised the raven had a nest and that the buzzard had got too close. The two birds whirled and screeched for a bit but the buzzard wasn’t long in deciding to beat a retreat, leaving the raven to return to its tree and literally crow about its victory. After watching this incident I decided I’d like to learn ...more
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book starts out slowly; give it a chance. By the end you will see that all the separate parts hold together providing a complete, cohesive and strong argument confirming the intelligence of ravens. I knew very little about ravens when I began. Now they fascinate me, and I am convinced that Bernd Heinrich, an experimental biologist, has in a balanced fashion woven together both his own scientific experiments and numerous anecdotal stories.

The book is well organized. It starts with his captur
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had high expectations going into this book. As an amateur naturalist, and someone with degrees in wildlife biology and conservation I was already intrigued by ravens and hoped to learn more in depth about their behaviors and social structures. Instead, this book is simply a piecemeal, intricately detailing each of the author's individual experiments and observations of the birds over time with no overarching narrative to tie all the information together. Certainly, he is an authority on ravens ...more
I got this book after spending a couple of summers on our land (now with cabin) in the North Woods. The ravens are omnipresent there, winter and summer. As I watched them wheel through the sky and heard their haunting cries, my curiosity about them was piqued.
This book far exceeded my expectations. Heinrich, a biologist by profession, presents insights into ravens' behavior garnered from his decade-long study of the wolf-birds. It was amazing the lengtbs that Heinrich would go to get a close g
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
What do ravens think about?

I'm moving up the phylogenetic tree from my recent read about mollusc minds (The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness) to birds. Mind of the Raven is another great book about creature consciousness. I'll read just about anything Bernd Heinrich writes--I'm a major fan. My all time favorite (as a New Englander) is Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival. Mind of the Raven is more a series of studies in behavioral ecology a
Camelia Rose
May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Bernd Heinrich is an American naturalist and a behavioral ecologist. Mind of the Raven is a collection of raven studies based on wild ravens and the author's own hand reared ravens. It covers a wide range of topics from individual ravens to raven's social life, social structure, bonding, nesting and parenting, to how ravens recognize humans and other ravens, to the symbiosis between ravens and wolves and between ravens and human hunters, and to raven intelligence and complex behaviors such as pl ...more
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Ravens and crows have a reputation for being smart. In this beautiful book, Heinrich asks if ravens act by carrying out a series of innate, programmed behaviors, or if they're capable of thinking, planning ahead, and emotion.

I picked this book up after seeing a particularly social raven taunt some tourists on Vancouver island. What a weird bird.

Each chapter is laid out as an experiment. Can ravens recognized individual humans? Heinrich approaches the ravens in his aviary in a Halloween mask, i
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Mind of the Raven, by Bernd Heinrich

A great scientific study of Ravens. The observations gave me a clear picture of the animal that played a crucial role in human history, inspired trickster myths, and stirred our collective imagination. I read this book along with Lewis Hyde's Trickster Makes this World, and they are excellent companions. Hyde's book is an excellent exploration of trickster mythology, but he does not credit the animals spirits themselves for enough inspiration and interplay th
Sep 12, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-blog
Informative, interesting and written in a approachable manner. You can feel the passion and the respect the author has for the crows and he is able to convey why he sees them as special. The only minor gripe I have is the appearance of the "I am right and the academic world does not see it" grumblings in one part of the book. It's not a serious case but still... ...more
Originally published in 2007. I really would have enjoyed this book more if we had ravens in this area, in Southeast Texas, but, we don’t. They are mostly Yankee birds. Come to think of it, I’ve never even seen a crow out here on our ten acres, which is kind of in the country and surrounded by woods on two sides. Now why is that? Not enough food source? I have seen some crows in town in parking lots of malls and hospitals, but never even a crow around here.

I found parts of this book very interes
From now on I'll pay more attention to the corvids. Of course, I always notice them and sometimes I even confidently declare 'crows' or 'raven.' But all too often, I'm left settling for 'corvid.'

From the Preface
My goal here is not to be authoritative. Instead, I sketch the world of a magnificent bird that, as we shall see, has been associated with humankind from prehistoric times when we became hunters. I focus largely on unpublished observations, experiments, and experiences that I hope will en
Mar 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
I wanted to enjoy this book so badly, but the writing is dull and arid. Somehow, the author made a fascinating subject completely uninteresting. He talks way too much about himself and not enough about the birds he’s studying.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was more of experiments with ravens. I did learn some interesting items of ravens and their characters.
"With ravens, the line between interpretation and fact is commonly a thin one, but as Mark Pavelka, who studied ravens for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, said, "With other animals you can usually throw out 90 percent of the stories you hear about them as exaggerations. With ravens, it's the opposite. No matter how strange or amazing the story, chances are pretty good that at
Ian Beardsell
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nature
Bernd Heinrich has probably become my favourite naturalist author. Earlier in 2020, I read A Year in the Maine Woods, which was a nicely paced journal of his year spent studying the natural surroundings of his cabin in Maine. The Mind of the Raven is a book much more focused on the scientific method and field study of this professor's favourite subject: Corvus corax, the raven.

Although perhaps a bit more rigorous and in-depth than the meandering and contemplative "year in the woods" journal, Hei
3.5 stars rounded down. Not exactly a page turner, but the book did successfully provide me some insights on the fascinating mind of one of the corvidae family members. It might be more enjoyable if it's a bit shorter.

Now, I love to mix my interests in SFF and nonfiction. This book was one of the references from Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, which was one of my most favorite reads two years ago. I became more fascinated with crows and decided to read this, especially since some friends at t
Jonathan Mckay
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
3rd book of 2020.

Sometimes I wonder if every topic is interesting when the right level of curiosity is brought to bear. Bernd Heinrich makes Ravens, and just about anything related to the forests of Maine interesting. In fact, Berndt could have written a book about paint drying and I would still like it. The book is structured with narrative, followed by info from published academic studies, and more general implications about cognition and intelligence at the end.

Heinrich deftly combines his o
Kevin McAllister
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it
As a professor of biology at The University of Vermont its understandable that the author of this book ; Bernd Heinrich would want to write a detailed, specific, and scientific account of the mind of ravens; and he does just that throughout the book. But as a lover and admirer of ravens he also waxes poetic about them again and again. Blending the science with the myth and lore of ravens could have been a really good idea for a book but unfortunately, for me, the author didn't quite pull it off. ...more
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fifth star might be just a touch over the top, but this was so much raw fun to listen, even with some side notes on anthropomorphizing his raven colleagues, that I just could not quit listening. Now, I have to say that Heinrich might have better titled this "Mind of the Author Studying Ravens," but that would be somewhat a quibble. He is certainly dedicated to his subject. He told us up front that as soon as a person thinks he understands the raven, they will be proven wrong by someone findi ...more
Jul 29, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dry, dull, and tedious on what should have been an exciting topic. Had to stop at page 115, one quarter through. Such a disappointment.
Elena Marjineanu
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could have never imagined there would come a day I'd read a book exclusively about ravens. Needless to say, I've learned an awful lot about the most intelligent birds on earth and now I love this magnificent world even more. ...more
I have wanted to read this book for so long. I was excited to receive it as part of a book exchange.

I read one hundred pages and found myself losing momentum. This isn’t quite what I was expecting. There is too much detail about the day to day activities of the research teams of which Heinrich is a member.

I skipped to the chapters that looked more engaging, but I just couldn’t finish it.
Cameron Naramore
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An in-depth look at perhaps the smartest bird, but also a refreshing perspective on the scope of consciousness and intelligence.
Bob Dolgan
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed the way I view bird behavior. The author conducts incredible, long-term studies of ravens that show what incredibly intelligent birds they are.
While visiting the National Parks of Wyoming and Utah last year, I frequently spotted Mind of the Raven on the shelves in the parks' visitor center gift shops. After I returned home I found that I was still intrigued by the book and ordered myself a copy. Finally, a little more than a year later, I got around to reading it.

I have to say I had never given a lot of thought to ravens. I remember seeing some in a cage at the Tower of London back in 2000, and of course I'm familiar with Edgar Allan P
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Heinrich was told by his major professor at UC Davis never to study some animal smarter that you are. Well, he did. Only by writing this book which is a series of anecdotes can you appreciate the breadth and depth of their intelligence. He stole young ravens from the nest and raised them in his aviary out in the woods of Maine by his cabin. He gave them new things to explore and tried to fool them in various ways, but they usually figured out whatever he was doing. The tales he tells are just sp ...more
Apr 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, nature
This book has sat on my shelves for a while, but after reading some interesting articles on the raven's relative, the crow, I thought that I would read more. While the Internet contains flashier anecdotes on these birds and their close relations, complete with video even, Heinrich's award-winning investigation is definitely more substantive. In a combination of personal observations across the globe, experiments and anecdotes of his own, Heinrich paints a fascinating portrait of this remarkable ...more
Nihal Vrana
Even though I have a biology degree; there isn't even a speck of a naturalist in me; so the "magic of the forest" parts were completely lost on me. Also, being a more experimentalist scientist, the "experiments" they were doing were too unstructured for me (But nevertheless interesting). Beyond being professionally irked and thrown into a world that does not mean much to me, it is a very good book.

Hats off to the perseverance, love and ingenuity that went to most of what Prof. Heinrich did. He i
May 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, dnf
Aarrgh! I tried to read this one TWICE and gave up twice. In theory, this should be a fascinating subject, but the way the author approached it was completely off-putting. Instead of discussing something specific to ravens in a chapter (like mating habits) he spends the entire chapter rambling about his day to day research efforts, and any "insights" you might discover abotu the mind of the raven are throw away comments, never summarized or explained.

I gave up about halfway through when I reali
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Outdoor Conservat...: Mind of the Raven (Apr 2022) 3 12 Aug 07, 2022 10:28AM  
Non Fiction Book ...: Mind of the Raven (Mar 26-Apr 25, 2020) 40 48 Apr 17, 2020 07:33PM  
Play Book Tag: Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich - 5 stars 6 18 Jul 10, 2017 09:13PM  
Amazing Animals: Book of the Month - October 1 10 Sep 22, 2011 06:34AM  

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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

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