Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind
A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies About Wildlife
by Warner Shedd
Did you know that "flying" squirrels are incapable of true flight? Were you aware that opossums don't "play dead," as in the common folk saying "playing possum"? In this fascinating and gorgeously illustrated new book, wildlife expert and enthusiast Warner Shedd, former executive for the National Wildlife Federation, uncovers the scientific realities obscured by our numerous long-held misconceptions of wild animals. Setting the most tenacious of these age-old superstitions against evidence that he and other biologists and naturalists have gleaned from careful observation and investigation, Shedd refutes such popular myths as beavers can fell trees in a desired direction, gray squirrels remember where they bury nuts, wolves howl at the moon, and cougars are an endangered species.
In addition to dispelling misinformation, Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind presents some fascinating facts about the animals that many of us encounter in our own backyards or walking across the road as we drive in our cars. For instance, did you know that a porcupine is actually a large rodent, and that its protective quills are really specialized hairs numbering about 30,000 per animal? That means that a typical porcupine has about 140 quills per square inch!
Shedd also uses humorous anecdotes to show us how funny (and educational) it can be when animals themselves defy our mistaken beliefs about them. Casting new light on the old tenet that ravens can be taught to mimic the human voice, Warner Shedd tells of a scientist who spent six years teaching a raven to cry "nevermore," after the haunting raven in the famous Edgar Allan Poe poem. Shedd further explains that recent research indicates that ravens only mimic if they have the desire to do so.
Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind covers more than thirty North American species--some as familiar as the common toad, others as elusive as the lynx. And Shedd captivates the reader as only an experienced naturalist could, with detailed, accurate information on such varied wildlife as muskrats, herons, brown bears, crows, armadillos, and coyotes--to name only a few.
Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind grew out of Warner Shedd's desire to share biologically sound information and counter erroneous folklore about wild animals. By arming his readers with knowledge, Shedd hopes to promote a more informed and respectful view of many North American wildlife species and ultimately encourage the scientific management and conservation of all our native wildlife.
From the Hardcover edition.
- Crown/Archetype, December 2007
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