The Snoring Bird: My Family's Journey Through a Century of Biology
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Although Gerd Heinrich, a devoted naturalist, specialized in wasps, Bernd Heinrich tried to distance himself from his "old-fashioned" father, becoming a hybrid: a modern, experimental biologist with a naturalist's sensibilities.
In this extraordinary memoir, the award-winning author shares the ways in which his relationship with his father, combined with his unique childhood, molded him into the scientist, and man, he is today. From Gerd's days as a soldier in Europe and the family's daring escape from the Red Army in 1945 to the rustic Maine farm they came to call home, Heinrich relates it all in his trademark style, making science accessible and awe-inspiring.
some gravel pit, sometimes in a drizzling rain. I tried never to complain—I wanted to become a man. Phil took me to many distant places, and the names still ring romantically in my ears—Wytopitlock, Enchanted Pond, the West Branch (of the Penobscot River), the Dead River, Umsaskis, Chesuncook, Mooselookmeguntic Lake…We’d get home at dusk, in time to call in his two cows, milk them, and centrifuge the milk. This is how we got the cream to make our butter in the hand-turned churn, and our ice
during my four years of almost year-round competition. I ran cross-country in the fall, indoor track in winter, and outdoor track in the spring and earned three varsity letters per year for three years. Papa never did understand my passion. But it didn’t matter. I wasn’t overly concerned about his opinions on my running at the University of Maine. On the other hand, I certainly would have welcomed some financial support for my studies. While I was at the Good Will School sending out my
unblemished paradise. Following the communist takeover after the war, Borowke became a collective farm. It didn’t work; the people who were settled there couldn’t even manage to grow their own potatoes. Then it was made into a state farm. People got paid for working there, and the state installed them in the family house. Later, with privatization, the state tried to sell the apartments to the tenants already living there, but they were too poor to pay. In the meantime, the beautiful estate,
numerous award-winning books, including the bestselling Winter World, Mind of the Raven, The Geese of Beaver Bog, and Why We Run, and has received countless honors for his scientific work. He has also written for Scientific American, Outside, American Scientist, and Audubon, as well as book reviews and op-eds for the New Tork Times and the Los Angeles Times. He studied at the University of Maine and UCLA, and is professor emeritus of biology at the University of Vermont. Heinrich divides his time
day, a hawk swooped down and had him for a snack. I think such experiences forced me to accept and even appreciate the cycle of life from an intellectual and objective rather than just a sentimental perspective. On the way back and forth to the village school, Marianne and I went by a patch of low, scraggly pines which were easy to climb, and where once I found a wood pigeon’s nest. It was a flimsy see-through platform of a few dry twigs, home to two pink squabs with kinky yellowish feathers. I