|Sandhill crane, (Grus canadensis) Circle B Bar Reserve, Florida.|
He starts the book by talking about two sandhill cranes, Millie and Roy, who live in Texas or Mexico for most of the year but return each April to a specific bog near Fairbanks, Alaska.
Heinrich then proceeds to meander about the globe, through history, geology, and all manner of life forms and weaves a narrative that centers around homing instincts. The book is 300 pages and reads like a series of essays and, at times, like observation notes collected over many years of study — which it often is.
He takes us to look at colony nesting weavers in the southern Sahara, helicopters us into the otherwise inaccessible forest in Suriname, and explains honey bee nest-site selection (with mention of his bumblebee studies). He climbs trees to band baby birds, monitors "Charlotte" (a spider who shares his cabin), and records her eating and web building habits while conducting a cool experiment… and, well, you get the idea.
Heinrich does a fantastic job of translating and simplifying complicated ideas and studies. When things get complicated, he explains concepts and terms so the reader doesn't have to dive for a dictionary. I've read a couple of his other books, and I highly recommend this one!
Bernd Heinrich is a former professor of zoology and biology at the University of Vermont and author of numerous studies and other books, including "Mind of the Raven" which is also a fascinating read. "The Homing Instinct," Bernd Heinrich. Mariner Books. Buy it.