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What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World
Synopses & Reviews
Advance Praise for What the Robin Knows
"Jon Young is one of the heroes of the new nature movement, an expansion of traditional environmentalism. With What the Robin Knows, he opens a door to a universe that overlaps modern life, a world lost to most, but found by some—because of teachers like Jon. This elegant book will deepen the kinship between humans and other species. It decodes our common language."
—Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods
"Here is the ancestral wisdom passed down from the Apache elder Stalking Wolf to the renowned tracker Tom Brown to Jon Young himself, who in turn passes on to the reader the art of truly listening to the avian soundscape. With all senses more finely tuned, you’ll find yourself more aware of your surroundings, slowing down, and reconnecting with a native intelligence and love of the natural world that lies deep within each of us."
—Donald Kroodsma, author of The Singing Life of Birds and Birdsong by the Seasons
"Jon Young knows birds, and you will, too, after reading his marvelous book. You’ll discover a universal bird language that will speak to you wherever you go outdoors. Every nature lover should read this book."
—Joseph Cornell, author of Sharing Nature with Children and John Muir: My Life with Nature
"What the Robin Knows is a fascinating introduction to nature study beyond putting names on what we see; it’s not just a guide to paying attention outdoors but full of tips on how to do it. It should help us discover the world of nature around us, often glimpsed but too often overlooked. This is less a book to read than one to use, one that will enrich our hours outdoors."
—Thomas R. Dunlap, author of In the Field, Among the Feathered
“This book turns us inside out, opening our minds onto the wider mind of the land itself. It’s a brilliant work, born of a lifetime of listening, teaching, and tracking what really matters. By waking our animal senses, Jon Young’s work replenishes our humanity.”
—David Abram, author of Becoming Animal and The Spell of the Sensuous
"In this naturalist guidebook, Young, a naturalist and teacher, has two objectives: first, by studying 'deep bird language,' we can find out 'what's really going on in the world of birds'; second, we can figure out how to 'access that world through our awareness of deep bird language so that we can see more wildlife.' His third, less direct goal is sharing his 'conviction that understanding the birds really does help us to understand ourselves.' The premise is simple: find a 'sit spot' (a place where you can unobtrusively be part of the world you are observing) and go there frequently — daily, if possible. Sit quietly and stay long enough to let the birds readjust to their 'baseline' vocalizing. Recognizing the baseline allows you to notice outlying noises and begin to posit theories about them, although, as Young frequently reminds readers, he is working with largely hypothetical concepts. The book comes with a handy collection of audio files to help listeners identify various songs and alarms of common birds. Though primarily geared toward birders and naturalists rather than lay readers, this passionate instruction manual offers enjoyable anecdotes. Agent: Bonnie Solow." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
How understanding bird language and behavior can help us to see more wildlife.
A captivating exploration of the homing instinct in animals, and what it means for human happiness and survival, from the celebrated naturalist and author of Mind of the Raven, Why We Run, and Life Everlasting
Acclaimed scientist and author Bernd Heinrich has returned every year since boyhood to a beloved patch of western Maine woods. What is the biology in humansand#160;of this deep-in-the-bones pull toward a particular place, and how is it related to animal homing?
Heinrich explores the fascinating science chipping away at the mysteries of animal migration:and#160;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.and#160;Most movingly, Heinrich chronicles the spring return of a pair of sandhill cranes to their home pond in the Alaska tundra. With his trademark and#8220;marvelous, mind-alteringand#8221; prose (Los Angeles Times), he portrays the unmistakable signs of deep psychological emotion in the newly arrived birdsand#8212;and reminds us that to discount our own emotions toward home is to ignore biology itself.
Listen to birds sing as youand#8217;ve never listened before, as the world-renowned birdsong expert Donald Kroodsma takes you on personal journeys of discovery and intrigue. Read stories of wrens and robins, thrushes and thrashers, warblers and whip-poor-wills, bluebirds and cardinals, and many more bird. Learn how each acquires its songs, how songs vary from bird to bird and place to place, how some birds' singing is especially beautiful or ceaseless or complex, how some do not sing at all, how the often quiet female has the last word, and why.
Hear a baby wren and the authorand#8217;s own daughter babble as each learns its local dialect. Listen to the mockingbird by night and by day and count how many different songs he can sing. Marvel at the exquisite harmony in the duet of a wood thrush as he uses his two voice boxes to accompany himself. Feel the extraordinary energy in the songs just before sunrise as dawnand#8217;s first light sweeps across this singing planet. Hear firsthand the unmistakable evidence that there are not one but two species of marsh wrens and two species of winter wrens in North America. Learn not only to hear but to see birds sing in the form of sonagrams, as these visual images dance across the pages while you listen to the accompanying CD.
Using your trained ears and eyes, you can begin your own journeys of discovery. Listen anew to birds in your backyard and beyond, exploring the singing minds of birds as they tell all that they know. Join Kroodsma not only in identifying but in identifying with singing birds, connecting with natureand#8217;s musicians in a whole new way.
About the Author
Jon Young is on the leading edge of animal tracking and understanding bird language. He has been exploring animal communication for 35 years and was mentored by the famous tracker Tom Brown Jr. as well as a tribal elder in Africa.andnbsp;Jon developed the 8 Shields Cultural Mentoring System, a model that has influenced more than 100 nature programs in communities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and is also creator of the Shikari Method for data collection, which is used by the USFWS.andnbsp;Jon has given over 1,000 public presentations and has mentored numerous students of his own. Married, with six children, Jon lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What the Robin Knows xiii
A Cacophony of Harmony 1
In the Beginning Is the Song 19
More Cacophony of Harmony 28
The Sit Spot 48
An Alarm for Every Occasion 80
Theyre All in This Together 99
A Shape for Every Occasion 119
From Collision to Connection 164
Appendix A: Learning Bird Language 183
Appendix B: Accompanying Audio 199
What Our Readers Are Saying
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