In 1988, John Marzluff (Wildlife Science/Univ. of Washington; In the Company of Crows and Ravens, 2005, etc.) and his wife Colleen set out into the Maine wilderness, where they studied the social behavior of ravens and became part of a community of local people upon whom they depended for support, companionship and fun.
With job opportunities for post-docs difficult to find, the authors jumped at the chance to study how ravens communicated in the wild. At the invitation of well-regarded ecologist Bern Heinrich, the couple moved from the desert ecology of Arizona to a small cabin in rural Maine, bringing only a few possessions and their dogs with them. Heinrich, born and raised in the area, taught at the University of Vermont. His specialty until then had been the social behavior of bees, but he became fascinated by the behavior of ravens when they encountered food. He wondered if their loud calls could be compared with the way that bees intentionally communicate in similar circumstances. Not only did Heinrich guide the Marzluffs’ research—and provide the site on which they built a large aviary to house the captive birds they trapped and studied—but he introduced them to his circle of lifelong friends in the area, who adopted the young couple and helped them get established. Though authors faced major adjustments—lack of amenities, a three-year budget of only $50,000, the demanding physical environment of Maine—three years later, not only had they thrived on the challenge, but their dog family grew to five and Colleen had become an expert at raising and training sled dogs.
An enjoyable chronicle of life in the wilds of Maine.