Summer World: A Season of Bounty

Overview

How can cicadas survive—and thrive—at temperatures pushing 115°F? Do hummingbirds know what they're up against before they migrate over the Gulf of Mexico? Why do some trees stop growing taller even when three months of warm weather remain? With awe and unmatched expertise, Bernd Heinrich's Summer World never stops exploring the beautifully complex interactions of animals and plants with nature, giving extraordinary depth to the relationships between habitat and the warming of ...

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Summer World

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Overview

How can cicadas survive—and thrive—at temperatures pushing 115°F? Do hummingbirds know what they're up against before they migrate over the Gulf of Mexico? Why do some trees stop growing taller even when three months of warm weather remain? With awe and unmatched expertise, Bernd Heinrich's Summer World never stops exploring the beautifully complex interactions of animals and plants with nature, giving extraordinary depth to the relationships between habitat and the warming of the earth.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When he's not writing books and articles about nature, Bernd Heinrich is teaching as a professor emeritus of Biology at the University of Vermont or roaming through the forests of western Maine. His Summer World serves as the sunny opposite of his well-received Winter World. Heinrich's musings on frogs, hummingbirds, wasps, and caterpillars imbue us with a sense of the vitality of nature all around us as we live our lives unaware. The book's line drawings and color insert smoothly complement the author's sensitive prose.
Edward O. Wilson
“This lovely book, meticulously etched and based on impassioned but exacting scientific research, illustrate why Bernd Heinrich is generally regarded as the most truly Thoreauvian of modern natural history writers.”
Amy Tan
“Bernd Heinrich’s books open my eyes and help me see the wonder of the natural world. . . . I love the fascinating details of his drawings, the lyricism of his observations, the way he unveils not only the physical workings of nature but the stories and dramas within it.”
Bill McKibben
“It is possible there is a better guide to the world around us than Bernd Heinrich, but I’ve not come across him. This is the book that will get you out the door into the season!”
Anthony Doerr
“This is hands-and-knees science at its most engaging...as the great greening occurs all around us, we can only hope to see half as much as Heinrich does.”
New York Times Book Review
“Bernd Heinrich—the object of my admiration—has been . . . writing about [nature] with brio, for decades. Perhaps his most attractive quality . . . . is his ability to find something intellectually stimulating whenever he steps out the door. . . . The man is irrepressible.”
Los Angeles Times
“One of our greatest living naturalists...Heinrich, author of 15 marvelous, mind-altering books…is a national treasure.”
Seattle Times
“When warm spring days turn blustery, it’s useful to have a book writhing with the magic of summer. Bernd Heinrich delivers…in ‘Summer World.’”
Elizabeth Royte
While Heinrich considers insects "magical" for doing so much with a pinpoint-size brain, the entomologist himself is a Dumbledore of the forest—magical himself for his ability to conjure a riot of life from what others less attuned might consider your standard Northern woodlot…the marvels that Hein­rich reveals and his own enthusiasm—a quality he admires in the animals around him—are certain to carry you along.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In his pursuit of actively observing his camp in the forests of western Maine and the woods, beaver bog and gardens around his Vermont home, Heinrich (The Trees in My Forest) delights with the surprising activities of local flora and fauna-and his own scientific antics: with a pet grackle named Crackle, he raids wasp nests to see what the red-eyed vireo will do with the paper and builds platforms in trees to find out who visits the sapsucker lick (hummingbirds, hawks and warblers). For entertainment, he recommends, "There is a solution that beats... a television set with 100 channels, by a mile: watching ants and other critters." The book features such mysteries as the significance of the mating habits of wood frogs and the eating patterns of caterpillars, but Heinrich also takes time to observe Homo sapiens, remarking that, like birds, we live in a perpetual summer, not by "strenuous biannual migrations but by creating and retreating into 'climate bubbles,' " reminding readers that they need "clear vision and also a spiritual imperative so that we will focus on the ultimate ecology, not the proximate economy." (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Heinrich (biology, Univ. of Vermont; Winter World) shares his enchantment with the natural world in this title observing plant and animal behavior during a New England summertime. Factual information including feeding, nesting, and mating patterns integrates smoothly with Heinrich's easy narrative style. Audie Award winner Mel Foster's (Finding God in Unexpected Places) evenly paced, distinctly voiced, and accent-free delivery enhances the ambiance and perfectly conveys Heinrich's wonder at nature's flexibility. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the natural world. [The Ecco hc also received a starred review, LJ 4/1/09.—Ed.]—Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Heinrich (The Snoring Bird: My Family's Journey Through a Century of Biology, 2007, etc.) gets intimate with the plants and animals of summer. Understandably, since the author lives in northern Vermont and inland Maine, much of his work heretofore has been associated with the colder months, but here he tackles summer with the verve particular to those who know that season as fleeting. He is an artful storyteller, crafting his explorations into nature as tight narratives. He's also a bit of a nutty professor, as witness this interaction with bald-faced hornets: "This time I crept up slowly, lunged forward with a wad of toilet paper in my hand, and successfully plugged up their nest entrance hole before they had time to react." Anyone who has experienced a bald-faced sting knows that this is an insane act, though undoubtedly fun to read about. The author finds, and generates, just as much excitement with the regenerative capacities of moss and lichen, or wading about in ponds to take the temperature of frog eggs. This is the kind of doorstep science that encourages you to take an interest in what is happening in your yard-to attend, as Heinrich does, to the organ-pipe mud dauber building its tunnels, or a flying crane doing its strange boogie. He can sing praise to a blackfly without stretching the point, radiate a communicable joy in seeing the first spring azure of the year and a purity of awe in the behavioral programming of creatures as they make precise choices in the scant hours they have to live and reproduce. He scrutinizes the bog alder and beaked hazel, the phoebe, woodcock and sapsucker (many captured in his elegant line drawings), and blends those observations with discussionsof large phenomena: the movement of constellations, photoperiods, biological and circadian clocks. As with the author's Winter World (2003), Heinrich presents natural science at its engaging best. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra/Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"Audie Award winner Mel Foster's evenly paced, distinctly voiced, and accent-free delivery enhances the ambiance and perfectly conveys Heinrich's wonder at nature's flexibility." —-Library Journal Starred Audio Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060742188
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/6/2010
  • Pages: 253
  • Sales rank: 624,679
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

The author of numerous bestselling and award-winning books, Bernd Heinrich is a professor of biology at the University of Vermont. He divides his time between Vermont and the forests of western Maine.

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Read an Excerpt

Summer World
A Season of Bounty

Chapter One

Preparing for Summer

9 March 2006. the ground is still snow-covered, but I've smelled the first skunk, and the bog is threaded by mink and otter tracks. I've heard the first honking of Canada geese. Two big flocks flew over, very high, heading north. The plant life looks unchanged, except that some pussy-willow buds have recently started to show a little more white peeking out over the edges of their dark brown flower bud scales. The first snowdrops, in the pure, unassuming simplicity that I love, are poking their nodding flower heads through the snow. Yesterday evening I heard the first singing of a mourning dove. The first robin is back, long before a worm is in sight. It's overcast and the forecast says "rain," but even if snow were predicted I'd expect the male red-winged blackbirds to return any day now.

Spring is on the way, and I think the birds feel it too. Certainly the blue jays do. I was lucky to see their first convocation again this year. I first noticed a crowd of them making a racket at seven am on the top of the bare branches of an ash tree—the same one where I saw them about this time last year. I counted at least twenty-four, but these jays were coming and going, so maybe there were many more. Those in the top of the tree were bobbing up and down in what looked like energetic knee-bend exercises, and calling at the same time. It did not look as though they were directing their attention in any particular direction or to specific individuals. There were no apparent pairs. I heard at least six to eight different calls, and each of these was given by the whole crowd during any oneperiod of time; they kept "in tune" as the calls changed. I was mesmerized and watched their display for three hours. The top of the one large ash tree seemed to be their stage, the focal point of a dance that extended over a dozen acres. At times there were groups of birds leaving the tree and screaming. They flew in twos and threes and in groups of a dozen or more. Whenever they went—using slow, deliberate wing beats—to or from their main staging area, they changed to a different vocalization. Although the main aggregation broke up at nearly eight am, a few pairs and individuals stayed around at least another two hours. They registered something that anticipates summer, and I assume their "dance" has something to do with courting and pairing up. Six weeks later, two pairs were still in the vicinity. I saw them busily coming to the edge of my recently dug frog pond to pull rootlets out of the ground for lining their nests.

summer in the northern hemisphere is short, and preparation for it is long. Getting an early start in the race to reproduce is critical. The season is anticipated by most organisms through photoperiod, the relative hours of day versus night. The seasons can also potentially be read from the stars. During summer, fall, winter, and spring in the northern hemisphere the North or "Pole" Star, Polaris, is visible as a steady fixed point above the horizon. Its angle to the Earth used to indicate latitude to the mariner. Daily, the constellations turn once around this star, rising in the east and setting in the west. Nearest to it we see the Big Dipper and Little Dipper and Cassiopeia. All three constellations are visible throughout the year, although in winter, when the tilt of the Earth's northern hemisphere is away from the sun, a new direction of the sky that was blocked during summer comes into view, with other constellations. Now the constellation Orion rises on the eastern horizon in the evening and dominates the southern sky, along with Sirius, a large star. During the summer in the northern hemisphere these winter stars are below the horizon, and the overhead sky is dominated by the Milky Way and three brilliant stars: Vega, Deneb, and Altair, of the constellations Lyra, Cygnus, and Aquila. Together these three stars, the "summer triangle," are a clear sign of summer. Do the birds know this?

Whether or not any animals can read and interpret the changing seasons from star patterns, and from them anticipate and prepare for the seasons, is not known. We do know, though, that animals use star patterns for navigation during their migrations. Many birds migrate at night, mainly the small songbirds whose rate of energy expenditure is so great that they need the day to refuel more often than large birds do. They watch the stars and recognize the patterns of the night sky. We know from detailed experiments and observations that they orient to the North Star or, more likely (as we do), by the star patterns around it, such as the Big Dipper. On their northward migrations to their summer breeding grounds they fly toward the Big Dipper, just as slaves escaping north at night followed it, code-naming it the "Drinking Gourd." When the birds return at the end of the summer, Polaris and the Big Dipper are on their backs or shoulders as they fly through the night sky.

Proximally, summer in the northern hemisphere is best defined, as already mentioned, by the period of sunlight and warmth that sustains active life. In the tropics "summer" is essentially endless; there are about 4,320 hours of daylight per year. Here in New England daylight is restricted to about 2,520 hours. And despite the much longer days in the arctic summer, there are fewer of them—not quite half those in New England. However, my calculation is an approximation only. I have for simplicity assumed (1) thirty-day months, (2) twelve months of summer with twelve hours of daylight per day in the tropics, (3) six months of summer with an average of fourteen hours of daylight per day in the temperate zone, and (4) two months of summer with twenty-four hours of light per day in the high arctic.

Summer World
A Season of Bounty
. Copyright (c) by Bernd Heinrich . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful reading for a summer's day.

    I am a huge fan of this author's work and this is one of his best books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    Summer in the wild

    Just as intriging as Winter World. Nicely written exploration of animals in summer, their activities and adaptations.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Simple Pleasures

    For anyone expecting a fast paced, page turning, exciting, action packed book-please look elsewhere. This book is like sitting next to a quiet pond watching all that nature has to offer -fantastic. Rarely does Mr. Heinrich delve into Latin terminolgy that so many of us were forced to memorize in high school or in college, but uses common observations and names to bring his world to life. Ive never been anywhere close to Maine but feel that his observations could have taken place in my own backyard. A slight book considering the subject of nature transitioning from spring to summer and back to fall that could have become monotous. A very simple concept for a book handled with great skill.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    engaging look at nature in Vermont and Maine

    This engaging look at nature in Vermont and Maine during the summer will have even couch potatoes searching their neighbor for fauna and flora as Bernd Heinrich makes it fun to investigate the birds, bees, and beasts including humans. He and Crackle the grackle tackle local science with passion though I would avoid visiting the nearby wasp nest with a weapon of mass destruction the toilet paper hole-stuffer. The author entreats readers to sing on a tree dais with birds, watch caterpillars dine on fast food while marveling how human are aviary-like migratory either by being snowbirds living in the south in winter or by creating an indoor climate. Obviously Mr. Heinrich is concerned with the impact on the ecosystem of not just global warming and hoping to get some activation by getting people up and out with an enjoyable entertaining trip outside. This is fun as fans of all ages will dance in their backyard with the stars of nature in this super insightful look at the SUMMER WORLD of northern New England.----------------

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2012

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