cover image The Homing Instinct: Meaning & Mystery in Animal Migration

The Homing Instinct: Meaning & Mystery in Animal Migration

Bernd Heinrich. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-0-547-19848-4

Retired biologist Heinrich (Life Everlasting) combines a scientific examination of animal migration with elements of journalism and memoir to produce a thoroughly engaging book. To open, he discusses the amazing ability of a diverse array of animals to migrate long distances and to return to their home breeding grounds: sandhill cranes annually to a small pond in Alaska after overwintering in Mexico, albatrosses to a speck of land in the middle of the ocean to breed after being away for years at a stretch, or salmon to their natal stream. Heinrich comfortably recognizes that there is a great deal that scientists have yet to discover and poses intriguing unanswered questions. The highlight of Heinrich’s second section is his recounting of an expedition he made to a pristine rainforest in the mountains of Suriname. In the final section he focuses on himself and his home in Maine, writing beautifully of living and hunting on his land as well as the myriad ways he has come to know the fauna and flora with which he shares his property. Although the books elements do not fit seamlessly, the work is strong enough to yield a holistic picture of various aspects of this important natural phenomenon. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Apr.)