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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,011 ratings  ·  335 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
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Paperback, 380 pages
Published April 5th 2000 by Ecco Press (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Petra-X
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
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Lori
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
description

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.
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Chrissie
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
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Trilby
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
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Brynn
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
Hana
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
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Dan
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
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Keegan
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
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Judy
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 e
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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
Tamhack
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
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Silvana
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
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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
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Chris
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.
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.
Richard
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
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Colleen
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
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
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Joy
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't think I've ever read a more fleshed out and wonderful non-fiction book. I've read quite a few non-fiction books, but none that changed my view of something as much as this changed my view of the common raven. The book itself was a textbook for my Animal Behaviour course (a psychology course) and I honestly don't think the professor could've picked a better, more fitting book. It's not like a textbook, it's a novel. I'm not going to lie to you, I've never been a big fan of birds, but afte ...more
Soozee
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I appreciated the juicy tidbits and unique observations about Ravens this book had to offer but I'd prefer the author wrote with more help from his editor.
He writes like a scientist, which is to be expected, however it doesn't make for fluid reading.
In the final chapters, I felt he wrote defensively--like he had to prove that this text was worthy of respect in the scientific community.
I loved it and found it tedious all at the same time.
Elizabeth☮
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.
Amy
Oct 13, 2008 rated it liked it
I did enjoy this book, mostly for Heinrich's descriptions of specific ravens that he got to know as individuals, though after a point the stories and experiments felt repetitive and unmotivated. By the time the author reached the crux of the book, in which he describes an experiment that 'proves' ravens can act with intelligence, it felt like a bit of an anti-climax.
Aliya
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.
Tabitha
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This review is also featured on Behind the Pages: Mind of the Raven

Readers will follow Bernd Heinrich as he performs various studies to better understand the behavior of ravens. Each chapter is set to undertake a different angle of study. For every experiment performed, there is information on the tools used and different theories that were presented throughout the experiments.

Taking a look into the life of a biologist was enlightening and I guarantee I would not be able to make it in their worl
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Kylie Stoneburner
I was skeptical about how much I would enjoy this book, having recently read another of Bernd Heinrich's books, Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival which I rated 2 stars. The writing in Winter World was very slow, and inundated with unnecessary jargon that bogged down the flow. I had already agreed to read Heinrich's Mind of the Raven for a buddy read, and corvids fascinate the heck out of me; so I gave Heinrich a second chance.

Mind of the Raven flowed easily like a narrative, in comp
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Claudia
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You have to wonder what prompted a noted naturalist who had previously worked with bumblebees to move over to ravens. But he did and he writes of his experiences in Vermont, Maine and across the world.

Sections range from banding infant hatchlings to discover what they are being fed, vocal communications, partners and mating pairs, adoption of other hatchlings (one of his regular pairs abandoned 4 young and Bernd transferred them to the nest of another pair who raised them to adulthood). Caching
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Paula
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heinrich calls the raven wolf-bird, because he believes they co-evolved to have a symbiotic relationship. In the absence of wolves, ravens will follow--and sometimes assist--hunters. He has spent a great deal of time with ravens. He has hand raised nestlings, and made close observation in the field at feeding and nesting sites. With his fellow researcher John Marzluff, he also created a large aviary for his hand-raised and wild captive birds to study their interactions up close. Through all of t ...more
Claire
Mar 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
I had heard a significant amount of information about these kinds of animals from my younger sister a long time ago, but it is important to fact-check everything you hear. To be honest, this kind of bird always makes me think of Psycrow, an enemy in a video game I played when I was younger. (You might have as well, but not everyone has the same lens that I do, so I am being purposefully vague.)

When this book talked about them, I heard more of them in the environment outside. Isn't that interesti
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Laura Flett
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I've never been one to appreciate corvids over songbirds. However, after reading this book I have truly gained an appreciation for Ravens and their intelligence. The book is very pleasurable to read as a non-fiction book because Heinrich spends more time telling stories (case studies) than explaining the why of these stories. Anthromorphism appeasing individuals would do well to do read this book because it truly tells humans that we are not the only intelligent conscientious species.
Jeff
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I spent most this book wishing it was over - but I really wanted to learn about ravens so I pressed on until it was all over and still had leaned almost nothing about the birds. The amount of actual information about ravens is almost non-existent but there’s page after page of inane details about the author’s thought-process in writing this book about ravens. If you want to actually learn about ravens this isn’t the book to pick up.
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Non Fiction Book ...: Mind of the Raven (Mar 26-Apr 25, 2020) 40 46 Apr 17, 2020 07:33PM  
Play Book Tag: Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich - 5 stars 6 17 Jul 10, 2017 09:13PM  
Amazing Animals: Book of the Month - October 1 9 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 w
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