Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wildlife in the City


I'm always interested to see wildlife in the city. How do these animals adapt? Some (like the squirrels around my son's college campus) seem to thrive on pizza crusts and half eaten junk food thrown in trash cans. Others seem lost in a tiny space taken over by urban sprawl. We live in an urban neighborhood, the houses are close together and there's a fair amount of traffic on our street. But there is a bit of green space behind the house. Our tiny back yard butts up against a ravine known around town as "the hollow." A weedy, steeply sloped hole basically, too deep and swampy to develop. I am so grateful for this ravine.

Sometimes I've seen a family of deer down there. I wonder about the city deer and how their life differs from their country cousins. Do they have enough land to roam? Enough food to eat? Is their food source different? I think about the tranquil peaceful woods, and wonder if these city deer mind the noise of the city.

I've seen wild turkey down there too. Once in a while a bunny. I heard something once that sounded like a bear, but I never got any firm proof of this.

I recently read about a fascinating organization that offers an educational experience observing wildlife in NYC. Earthwatch Institute's mission is to engage people worldwide "in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment." Cool! They offer experiences around the world. In the U.S., expeditions include studying seals in Alaska, terrapins in Pennsylvania's salt marshes, and wild horses on an island off North Carolina. The New York City expedition offers 9 days exploring the greater metropolitan area. According to the website, you will study "a range of wildlife species and the quality of their varied habitats. Depending on the time of year, you may track and camera-trap mammals, catch frogs and salamanders in nets or pitfall traps, identify birds, or survey native and invasive plant species. "

Of course, around home, I mainly see a few varieties of birds: pigeons, crows, warblers, finches. Sometimes I toss breadcrumbs outside. Who usually retrieves them? My friendly squirrel. That's okay, I love watching the squirrels. Some may disagree, but I think squirrels are the best city wildlife! They always look like they're having fun. They love to tease Kelly, taunting her from the ground and then easily darting up a tree when she runs after them.

Paws for Reflection: Learning about wildlife in my area can help me understand how my actions affects them.

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