HERE AM I--WHERE ARE YOU? by Konrad Lorenz

HERE AM I--WHERE ARE YOU?

The Behavior of the Greylag Goose

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Two years after his death comes the English translation of what one is tempted to describe as Lorenz's goose song, his last formal statement on his beloved greylag geese. A lifetime of observation--which led to the important concepts of critical times in development, of imprinting and innate releasing mechanisms, of ``vacuum activity'' (in the absence of the releasing mechanism), and of the many complex variations and recombinations of behavior patterns or ``ethograms''--is summed up here in detailed descriptions of individual geese as well as in theoretical constructs. Why greylags? Lorenz says it's because when he was a child he wanted to be an owl, but reading Selma Lagerlîf's tale of wild geese convinced him that geese had more fun. Soon followed his first experience with a duckling who became imprinted on him--an event that in retrospect, Lorenz says, led to him being imprinted on birds forever. For the most part, the book is a primer on the behavior of these most social creatures (an isolated greylag is a cripple) with all the titillating tales of pair-bonding and breaking, of ardor and jealousy and hate that make critics cry ``anthropomorphism.'' Lorenz makes no bones about it: For him, geese are analogues to human behavior--their triumph ceremonies, their lamentation cries, their distance calls, and other complex vocal and motor behavior exemplify a philogenetic convergence in evolution. Like humans, geese are aggressive, struggle for rank, show ardor, bravery, and vengeance, are ever-mindful of their fellow creatures and ready to react. It's all told here in the deeply personal terms characteristic of this ardent Austrian. Gooselovers of the world, unite; this is the book for you.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-15-140056-3
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991