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The Homing Instinct

Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration

The Homing Instinct

Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration

Author: Bernd Heinrich

Published: 2014-04-08

Publisher's Description:

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 humans 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: 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.


Pages: 384

The paperback version is published by Mariner Press.

A second hardback edition was published in Sep 2014 by William Collins, with a new subtitle "The Story and Science of Migration", ISBN 9780007594054, and cover image.


  • Language: English
  • Biogeographical Realm:
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  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Hardback Google Books Logo Amazon Logo

  • Date Published: 07 Apr 2014
  • ISBN-10: 0547198485
  • ISBN-13: 9780547198484

Paperback Google Books Logo Amazon Logo

  • Date Published: 20 Apr 2015
  • ISBN-10: 0544484010
  • ISBN-13: 9780544484016

E-Book Version

  • Date Published: 07 Apr 2014
  • ISBN-13: 9780547523637