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

Bernd Heinrich, Author
Bernd Heinrich, Author Ecco Press $25 (380p) ISBN 978-0-06-017447-7
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-06-093063-9
Paperback - 380 pages - 978-0-06-113605-4
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-146365-5
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 432 pages - 978-0-06-146362-4
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-146359-4
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-186393-6
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In a book that demonstrates the rewards of caring and careful observation of the natural world, Heinrich (Ravens in Winter, etc.), a noted biologist, Guggenheim fellow and National Book Award nominee (for Bumblebee Economics, 1979), explores the question of raven intelligence through observation, experiment and personal experience. Although he has raised many ravens through the years (beginning with a tame pair that shared his apartment at UCLA in the 1960s), Heinrich focuses much of his attention on four nestlings he adopted from the Maine woods near his home. As he describes tending to the demanding babies, chopping up roadkill, cleaning up after them and enduring their noisy calls for food, readers will marvel at how much Heinrich knows and at how much joy he derives from acquiring that knowledge. As the birds mature, Heinrich details how these and other ravens feed, nest, mate, play and establish a society with clear hierarchical levels. At its best, his writing is distinguished by infectious enthusiasm, a lighthearted style and often lyrical descriptions of the natural world. His powers of observation are impressive and his descriptions--of how a raven puffs its feathers in a dominance display, of how a female calls for food from her mate, of the pecking order at a carcass--are formidably precise. Toward the end of the book, Heinrich addresses the question implied by the title: To what degree can ravens be said to think? His answer: ""I suspect that the great gulf or discontinuity that exists between us and all other animals is... ultimately less a matter of consciousness than of culture."" Illustrations. (May)
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