Monday, July 7, 2014

Bernd Henrich's The Homing Instinct: Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration

Book Summary provided by Good Reads:
"Heinrich explores the fascinating science chipping away at the mysteries of animal migration: how geese imprint true visual landscape memory; how scent trails are used by many creatures, from fish to insects to amphibians, to pinpoint their home if they are displaced from it; 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 home pond in the Alaska tundra. With his trademark “marvelous, mind-altering” prose (Los Angeles Times), he portrays the unmistakable signs of deep psychological emotion in the newly arrived birds—and reminds us that to discount our own emotions toward home is to ignore biology itself." 

Washington Post Review: "The Homing Instinct: Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration by Bernd Heinrich and The Surprising Lives of Birds and What they reveal about being Human by Noah Stryckern" by David Gessner:

Q & A with Bernd Heinrich on A Way to Garden (also Podcast available)

"Do Humans have some kind of Homing Instincts . . ," Scientific American, Oct. 21, 1998

PBS Nature Video: "Extraordinary Cats: Homing Instinct"

Homing, Migration and Navigation: Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Discussion Questions:
1. How are the topics, migration and homing similar and different?
2. Do humans have a homing instinct?
3. What positive and negative lessons can we as humans learn from the herding mentality?
4. How do animal and human home making and it's implications compare?
5. Discuss what you found surprising? Consider the eel, grasshopper, orb weaver spider, passenger pigeon, godwit, moth, etc.
6. Discuss the different means of migration including smell, magnetic, stars and sun.
7. Discuss the interaction of animals in their home territories including the effect of the American Chestnut and also bed bugs and other parasites in nests and homes.
8. Discuss predator and prey relationships as with the spider and passenger pigeon.
9. Discuss the successes and disasters of home building and site choices of animals versus humans including the Suriname trip.

(Pic from: