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The Homing Instinct The Story and Science of Migration by Bernd Heinrich

The Homing Instinct The Story and Science of Migration

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The story and science of how animals find their way home.


The Homing Instinct The Story and Science of Migration by Bernd Heinrich

The story and science of how animals find their way home. Home is the place we long for most, when we feel we have travelled too far, for too long. Since boyhood, acclaimed scientist and author Bernd Heinrich has returned every year to a beloved patch of woods in his native western Maine. But while it's the pull of nostalgia that informs our desire to go back, what is it that drives the homing instinct in animals? Heinrich explores the fascinating science behind the mysteries of animal migration: how geese imprint true visual landscape memory over impossible distances; how the subtlest of scent trails are used by many creatures, from fish to insects to amphibians, to pinpoint their home; and how the tiniest of songbirds are equipped for solar and magnetic orienteering over vast distances. Most movingly, Heinrich chronicles the spring return of a pair of sandhill cranes to their pond in the Alaska tundra. With his marvellously evocative prose, Heinrich portrays the psychological state of the newly arrived birds, articulating just what their yearly return truly means, to the birds and to those fortunate enough to witness this transcendently beautiful ritual. 'The Homing Instinct' is an enchanting study of this phenomenon of the natural world, reminding us that to discount our own feelings toward home is to ignore biology itself.


Praise for Bernd Heinrich: 'Heinrich, who combines his keen scientific eye with the soul of a poet, enthralls.
New York Times

'One of the finest living examples of that strange hybrid: the science writer.'
Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Bernd Heinrich is an acclaimed scientist and author of numerous books, including the bestselling Winter World, Mind of the Raven, and Why We Run. He writes for Scientific American, Outside, American Scientist, and Audubon, and has contributed to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Among Heinrich's many honours is the 2013 PEN New England Award for Nonfiction, for Life Everlasting.

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Book Info

Publication date

14th August 2014


Bernd Heinrich

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William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


368 pages


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Wildlife: general interest



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