MIND OF THE RAVEN: INVESTIGATIONS AND ADVENTURES WITH WOLF-BIRDS (380 pp., Harper Collins,1999)
Winner of the 2000 John Burroughs Medal for Natural History Writing
From the book jacket: "Heinrich involves us in his quest to get inside the mind of the raven. But as animals can only be spied on by getting quite close, Heinrich adopts ravens, thereby becoming a 'raven father,' as well as observing them in their natural habitat. He studies their daily routines, and in the process, paints a vivid picture of the ravens' world. At the heart of this book are Heinrich's love and respect for these complex and engaging creatures, and through his keen observation and analysis, we become their intimates too. Heinrich's passion for ravens has led him around the world in his research. Mind of the Raven follows an exotic journey—from New England to Germany, and from Montana to Baffin Island in the high Arctic—offering dazzling accounts of how science works in the field, filtered through the eyes of a passionate observer of nature. Each new discovery and insight into raven behavior is thrilling to read, at once lyrical and scientific."
REVIEWS (4.5 of 5 stars on Amazon): "Heinrich seems to be a born teacher. He does a great job explaining ravens as well as explaining the process of discovery that brings him to his conclusions."—Arthur Digbee
"Bernd applies his multi-faceted brand of research to a species that is clearly close to his heart (the raven), with spectacular results. He weaves anecdotes and scientific studies together flawlessly to draw conclusions that are hard to argue with, if only because he refuses to draw unwarranted conclusions when the evidence isn't clear."—Matt Hetling
BERND HEINRICH WRITES ABOUT MIND OF THE RAVEN:
It turned out that the Raven Project was far from finished when I wrote Ravens in Winter. For one thing, John Marzluff, my post-doc, and his wife, Colleen, had immersed themselves in Maine ravens as well. They did not solve the problem I thought I had assigned them to do in the half-acre aviary we had built. But they had followed up to prove what I thought I knew, but to scientific specifications, which had yielded additional observations and more ideas for publication. So when I came back from Germany I ended up helping them for a year, instead of them helping me, and after that I continued in the aviary comparing the ravens' learning behavior and made a discovery of their capacity for insight into a problem apparently solved by trying out the possible solutions mentally rather than just physically by trial and error. This proved to be a hard sell, and my manuscript was rejected for publication six times before finally being accepted, by which time numerous others were coming out demonstrating even more marvelous corvid capacities.
The raven project had expanded, and as interest in corvid cleverness mounted, it continued to expand as others including another post-doc, Thomas Bugnyar, came from Austria and followed up with studies in my then also second, Vermont, aviary.
Ravens, the long thought fabulous birds, were becoming ever more interesting and fabulous as during the next years even more new questions were emerging. Especially the revealing of their startling intelligence, or insight, which I had not before ever thought possible to be empirically revealed. All of this new information both from recent studies and from the old and new literature on them needed to be tied together. The result was this book, meant as current behavioral science of ravens in context of ancient myth and old observations, and accessible to a wide audience.