Monday, November 28, 2016

One Wild Bird at a Time by Bernd Heinrich

Summary from Amazon:
"In One Wild Bird at a Time, Heinrich returns to his great love: close, day-to-day observations of individual wild birds. There are countless books on bird behavior, but Heinrich argues that some of the most amazing bird behaviors fall below the radar of what most birds do in aggregate. Heinrich’s “passionate observations [that] superbly mix memoir and science” (New York Times Book Review) lead to fascinating questions — and sometimes startling discoveries. A great crested flycatcher, while bringing food to the young in their nest, is attacked by the other flycatcher nearby. Why? A pair of Northern flickers hammering their nest-hole into the side of Heinrich’s cabin deliver the opportunity to observe the feeding competition between siblings, and to make a related discovery about nest-cleaning. One of a clutch of redstart warbler babies fledges out of the nest from twenty feet above the ground, and lands on the grass below. It can’t fly. What will happen next?"

Quote: "Each animal gives us a new view, a new experience, that involves stepping out of our own world into another, and it is always an adventure.


Kirkus Review:

WSJ: "Minding the Nest":

The Naturalist's Notebook: The story behind the book, written by Heinrich:

Q & A with the Author:

Other books by Bernd Heinrich: Winter World, Summer World, One Man's Owl, Mind of the Raven, Why We Run, The Trees in my Forest, Life Everlasting

Discussion Questions:
1. Do you bird watch? If yes, Where? When? What?
2. Have you ever participated in a bird walk or birding class?
3. Which bird species, presented in this book, are familiar ones to you? New ones?
4. Bernd presents chapter after chapter of amazing observations, confirmations of old findings and makes new exciting discoveries. What are some of his observations of birds that surprised you?
5. Have you observed or witnessed yourself, some of the findings that Bernd presents here in this book, such as mobbing, courting, communication, nesting behaviors, sharing, survival strategies, snow diving or denning, flock learning, mourning, etc.?
6. Bernd intervenes, even interferes with several birds' lives, such as with Pipsqueak, “So, I went to find him, extracted him from the thicket and carried him to the cabin . . .” (p. 14-15) or with Slick, “On his next landing I closed my fingers, trying to grab him by his legs, and managed to snag him by a toe.” (p. 28).  What are your thoughts about this? Have you ever stepped in to help a bird or animal yourself?
7. Bernd uses a bird feeder and provides seeds for the birds in his area. “Nowadays the chickadees often seem to live on black sunflower seeds. A crowd of them at my bird feeder in Vermont had consumed over a hundred pounds of the seeds per winter . . .” (p. 108) Do you use a bird feeder? How often and how much do you feed them?  Do you use specific kinds of seeds to attract certain species?
8. In considering Pough’s statement , “If enough winter bird-feeding stations are established to free the evening grosbeak from dependence on natural foods its population might increase greatly in years to come.” (p. 178) What are your thoughts regarding using a bird feeder? What are the pros and cons?

9. Bernd’s writing is very fluid and accessible. Do you track your own observations of birds and animals you see? If yes, feel free to bring your journal along to share. What have you seen, that bewildered or excited you?

Bernd Heinrich in his cabin in Maine. 
Photo from Naturalist Notebook.

A video of an amazing talking starling.

American Woodcock Dance

Burrowing Owls Video

This is a photo from our first meeting. We look forward to more
interesting and fun books and discussions.

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