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Summer World: A Season of Bounty by Bernd…

Summer World: A Season of Bounty

by Bernd Heinrich

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Just couldn't get into this.  Nothing wrong with it; I should maybe try again someday as I might just not have been in the mood.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
10 May 2011

I enjoyed this book a great deal for the gentle rhythm of observing nature through the summer months and the insights which at some points were hilarious.

Take wood frogs. The problem was to work out why the lads all make such a hell of a racket and then when not as many girls turn up they jump on the ones that do. Why didn't just one call and see if he could attract a single mate?

The answer is that one frog could make a sound that would carry (say) a mile around him but female frogs are not common and just one might have heard him and might have decided to visit him, or might not. But if ten frogs call the area is expanded a hundredfold and many more female frogs might hear the call and as they are more attracted to what seems like a party rather than one single male, they are much more likely to go. So the male frogs think that they have a better chance of scoring if they give a party than if they just howl out on their lonesome.

Seems that frat boys work exactly the same way. Girls walking past places that look like they might have a party are much more attracted to the one where there is loud music rather than the one that sounds 'dead'. Not sophisticated behaviour at all by these university lads but an inheritance from their reptile brains.

I love evolutionary biology because it reveals such points as this - when we think we know it all, turns out we have no idea.... ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
The best thing about Bernd Heinrich is he always teaches me something I didn't know. There is a plethora of fascinating information here about nature in summer. From wood frogs to mud daubers to beatles nothing escapes Heinrich's eye. The only real drawback is his disjointed presentation of information. Many of the entries look like they were randomly selected from journal entries over 20+ years. But it is still worth the effort to gain the knowledge he provides. ( )
  zimbawilson | Sep 13, 2010 |
What better time to read Bernd Heinrich's Summer World: A Season of Bounty (Ecco, 2009) than from the deck of a cottage on the Maine coast in July, just a few hours' drive from where much of the action in the book takes place (at Heinrich's cabin in the woods of western Maine and at his home near Burlington)?

This book, a companion to Heinrich's earlier Winter World, takes as its subject the ways in which animals (mostly insects, birds and plants, with the occasional mammal or frog tossed into the mix) manage to survive the summer's heat. The sections tend to begin with Heinrich noticing something (a wasp carrying a blade of grass, say, or a strange-looking caterpillar) and then expand outward from there as he explores the topic. Sometimes this involves further observation, or experiments, or research - with other things he just writes about what he sees, hears, and feels about what's going on around him.

I felt as though another pass by an editor to give this book a bit more thematic cohesion might not have hurt things, and there were times when I wanted more footnotes or more answers to the questions Heinrich poses (in more than a few cases he posits some biological oddity or another, but never lets the reader know if the answer has been found, or whether his own explanation is in fact the correct one).

I've enjoyed many of Heinrich's earlier works, and quite liked this one too (with the caveat noted above). His own line drawings sprinkled liberally throughout the book add much, as does the color of the ink (the entire book is printed in a very pleasant green). While his biology-professor jargon comes through once in a while, in general he writes quite clearly for the non-specialist, about things that are all around us, if we choose to look for them.

http://philobiblos.blogspot.com/2010/07/book-review-summer-world.html ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Jul 18, 2010 |
I really enjoyed this book--it's the first nature book I've ever been inspired to read. (It was the author's hand drawn illustrations on the cover that drew me to it.) Each chapter discusses a different aspect of summer--one you probably hadn't thought to notice. From ant wars to the habits of trees and their leaves, Bernd Heinrich covers a wide variety of topics. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on mating wood frogs, nesting phoebes and deaths and resurrections, although I found enlightenment and education in every species discussed. (I didn't know I could be so entranced by insects!)

One drawback to this book, in my opinion, is that it seems to be in need of some editing. I sometimes found it confusing and difficult to discern exactly what the author was talking about, since he tends to skip back and forth and throw in ideas that aren't necessarily related to the subject at hand.

All in all though, a very satisfying read. It has definitely made me more aware of my surroundings and the immediacy of acting to preserve our planet's ecosystem. I can see myself picking this book up in future summers, rereading favorite bits, just to feel more in touch with the season and life itself. ( )
  dissed1 | Jun 24, 2010 |
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Naturalist Heinrich brings us the same bottomless reserve of wonder and reverence for the teeming animal life of backwoods New England that he brought us in Winter World. Now he focuses on the animal kingdom in the extremes of the warmer months, with all its feeding, nesting, fighting, and mating. Whether presenting disquisitions on ant wars, the predatory characteristics of wasps, the mating rituals of woodpeckers, or describing an encounter with a road full of wood frogs, Heinrich never stops observing the beautifully complex interactions of animals and plants with nature, giving extraordinary depth to the relationships between habitat and the warming of the earth. --From publisher description.… (more)

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