Sep 2, 2008

Mind of the Raven

Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds
by Bernd Heinrich

Bernd Heinrich has a lifelong curiosity about ravens. This book is based on a decade of personal study. Not only did Heinrich observe ravens in the wild (from Alaska to Maine) and some kept as pets, but he also hand-raised birds in large outdoor aviaries. There he devised many experiments- half the time just to see what they would do. In many cases his experiments failed, because the ravens were too clever for him. Heinrich doesn't avoid sharing his errors and frustrations, and struggles to get his findings accepted by the scientific community. This was hampered by the informality of his studies (many were also incomplete). Yet the personal tone and numerous anecdotes make Mind of the Raven a pleasure to read. It's full of information about the birds' social interactions, relationships with predators, evidence of problem-solving, how they raise their young, what many of their calls mean, etc. Wrapped around all the facts are the author's personal opinions, conclusions and admiration for these fascinating birds.

Rating: 4/5                        432 pages, 1999

5 comments:

Trish said...

Do you birdwatch at all?

Jeane said...

Not really; only when they happen to come through my yard. I recognize some bird calls as being familiar, and always thought I'd like to learn which feathered faces they belong to- the only one I can put a name to right now are the crows!

Trish said...

I had a professor that was a birdwatcher and he would discuss such things in class (he was a little out there). I like watching birds at the lake but I don't know any of their calls either. Some of the water birds are so beautiful, though.

Jeane said...

My favorite are the great blue herons.

Susan said...

I want to read this book! We have tons of crows here, and occasionally see a raven. I've heard they are very bright. Now you've made me curious again with this review!