Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind: A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies About Wildlife

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9780609807972: Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind: A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies About Wildlife

Have you ever seen a flying squirrel flapping through the air, watched a beaver carrying a load of mud on its tail, or ducked when a porcupine started throwing its quills? Probably not, says Warner Shedd, debunking these and many more popular myths about our animal friends in Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind. In this charming and eminently readable biology lesson, Warner Shedd, former regional executive for the National Wildlife Federation, offers scientific evidence that refutes many of the most tenacious and persevering folklore about wild animals. Full of humorous anecdotes and fascinating facts about more than thirty North American species, Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind is an entertaining dose of scientific reality for any nature enthusiast or armchair adventurer.

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Ever pick up a toad only to have it soak your hand? Don't worry, it was the animal's emergency water storage (not urine!), dumped in a fight-or-flight panic. Think that new beaver clan will dent the trout population in your favorite fishing hole? They don't touch the stuff: beavers are strictly vegan. And go ahead, get close to that porcupine, because they can't fire quills like an AK-47. Want more? Warner Shedd, a native Vermonter, lifelong naturalist, former Forest Service honcho, and a retired executive for the National Wildlife Federation, dispels wildlife fallacies that have passed through generations of well-intended grandfathers and poorly informed folk tales. Shedd covers everything about most backyard critters--from gray squirrels to newts--and expands on some wilder species that we only think we understand.

But Shedd's refreshing anecdotes aren't entirely naysaying. In fact, he confirms many myths with a bit of explanatory elaboration. Take the raven's knack for mimicry, for example; it's entirely capable of uttering "nevermore" if it desires. And while bats aren't entirely blind, Shedd writes, they rely largely on echolocation to navigate, bouncing high-frequency shrieks off nearby objects, sometimes in the range of 115 kilohertz (a human's range goes to a mere 20 kHz).

While these details gives us some solid facts to gnash on, it's Shedd's personal anecdotes (much to the dismay of his resilient Labrador Heidi, who, while accompanying Shedd, has been jumped by muskrats and porcupines, among other things) that elevate his information to entertainment. Retelling stories from his boyhood in Vermont and from his professional work, he takes the reader on a ride through familiar territory: describing roadside carcasses, trash-ravaging raccoons, and clumsy coyotes, among other encounters. To keep us current, however, Shedd updates ongoing conservation efforts and opens an occasional window into his own personal opinions on wildlife management. We're left with a satisfying, inspiring handbook to some of North America's most familiar and erroneously understood creatures. --Lolly Merrell

From the Inside Flap:

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.

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Pbk.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Have you ever seen a flying squirrel flapping through the air, watched a beaver carrying a load of mud on its tail, or ducked when a porcupine started throwing its quills? Probably not, says Warner Shedd, debunking these and many more popular myths about our animal friends in Owls Aren t Wise Bats Aren t Blind. In this charming and eminently readable biology lesson, Warner Shedd, former regional executive for the National Wildlife Federation, offers scientific evidence that refutes many of the most tenacious and persevering folklore about wild animals. Full of humorous anecdotes and fascinating facts about more than thirty North American species, Owls Aren t Wise Bats Aren t Blind is an entertaining dose of scientific reality for any nature enthusiast or armchair adventurer. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780609807972

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Pbk.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Have you ever seen a flying squirrel flapping through the air, watched a beaver carrying a load of mud on its tail, or ducked when a porcupine started throwing its quills? Probably not, says Warner Shedd, debunking these and many more popular myths about our animal friends in Owls Aren t Wise Bats Aren t Blind. In this charming and eminently readable biology lesson, Warner Shedd, former regional executive for the National Wildlife Federation, offers scientific evidence that refutes many of the most tenacious and persevering folklore about wild animals. Full of humorous anecdotes and fascinating facts about more than thirty North American species, Owls Aren t Wise Bats Aren t Blind is an entertaining dose of scientific reality for any nature enthusiast or armchair adventurer. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780609807972

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