In Summer World: A Season of Bounty, Bernd Heinrich brings us the same bottomless reserve of wonder and reverence for the teeming animal life of backwoods New England that he brought us in Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival. Now he is focusing on the animal kingdom in the extremes of the warmer months, with all its feeding, nesting, fighting, and mating.
Whether presenting disquisitions on ant wars, the predatory characteristics of wasps, the mating rituals of woodpeckers, or describing an encounter with a road full of wood frogs, Summer World never stops observing the beautifully complex interactions of animals and plants with nature, giving extraordinary depth to the relationships between habitat and the warming of the earth. How can cicadas survive--and thrive--at temperatures pushing 115�F? Do hummingbirds know what they're up against before they migrate over the Gulf of Mexico? Why do some trees stop growing taller even when three months of warm weather remain? With awe and unmatched expertise, Heinrich explores hundreds of questions like these.
Exquisitely illustrated with dozens of the author's own drawings, Summer World is Bernd Heinrich's most engaging book to date, a fascinating work from one of our very best science writers.
In his pursuit of actively observing his camp in the forests of western Maine and the woods, beaver bog and gardens around his Vermont home, Heinrich (The Trees in My Forest) delights with the surprising activities of local flora and fauna--and his own scientific antics: with a pet grackle named Crackle, he raids wasp nests to see what the red-eyed vireo will do with the paper and builds platforms in trees to find out who visits the sapsucker lick (hummingbirds, hawks and warblers). For entertainment, he recommends, There is a solution that beats... a television set with 100 channels, by a mile: watching ants and other critters. The book features such mysteries as the significance of the mating habits of wood frogs and the eating patterns of caterpillars, but Heinrich also takes time to observe Homo sapiens, remarking that, like birds, we live in a perpetual summer, not by strenuous biannual migrations but by creating and retreating into 'climate bubbles,' reminding readers that they need clear vision and also a spiritual imperative so that we will focus on the ultimate ecology, not the proximate economy. (Apr.)
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April 06, 2009
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