Monday, June 23, 2008

Book Review: Ravens in the Winter by Bernd Heinrich

Ravens in the Winter by Bernd Heinrich

No one can say I did not expand my reading horizons this summer because I just finished reading a 379 page scientific study on Ravens. Bern Heinrich is a professor of zoology and decided to answer the question of why Ravens feed together when the find a dead carcass to scavenge. The book and its discoveries give a lot of insight to Raven society and sociality. I found the study really interesting, though sometimes the essays and experiment notes got way repetitive. It seemed just when I was going to put the book down he moved onto another essay topic like Raven intelligence, or the pet Ravens he kept at home, Raven’s nesting habits, or trapping Ravens in a cage, or building a Raven study site. I really had a lot of fun learning so much about Ravens and their habits.

So, yeah, unless you are a die-hard animal/bird lover then you probably won’t make it through this book very easily. There is a reason my husband is fond of calling me “bird brain,” and it’s not cause I’m stupid. It is because I’m crazy about birds. Especially black birds, and since a Raven is currently the main character of one of my novels I decided to do some research, and I’m really glad I did because there are going to have to be some major changes in my Raven’s behavior!

Anyway, this guy, at the time of his writing the book, was only the third person in the world who had captured Ravens and tagged them for study. They are really interesting but extremely shy birds, and so it is incredibly hard to study them at all. I like how this book didn’t show that Raven’s had some kind of mythical intelligence, because that is what the typical Raven book is about, but instead discussed that they had a complex social hierarchy, and interesting habits. This was a fun, but difficult read, yet ultimately rewarding.

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