The Ecology Around You
Finding Nature in Your Neighborhood
Nature is all around us and there is a plethora in every neighborhood, one only needs to become still and watch.
Because both cities and tightly packed suburbs offer wildlife bountiful nooks and crannies in which to hide, it can be difficult to spot the animals that live in our midst. Many thrive among paved streets, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, and high-ris
es. There are animals in abundance burrowing in the soil of center medians and tiny backyard gardens, making nests in the trees that line broad and busy avenues, and buzzing round the flowers that beautify our parks. To find these creatures, we only need to stop, look, and listen. Nature’s drama is continually playing out on the window ledges where weary birds stop to roost, in the shadowy places where cautious nocturnal mammals wait for night’s mantel to fall, and the fountains where playful waterfowl splash and frolic. In observing the animals that share our habitat, we become a part of their beautiful, complex, and exciting world.
Season by season, cities offer diverse ecosystems for you to explore. If your search for urban and suburban wildlife is challenging, try to look at your community with an animal’s eyes. Where there are shrubs and flowers, insects such as butterflies, ladybugs, beetles, and spiders can usually be found. The insects, in turn, attract the birds who feast upon them. Even the smallest green spaces are hosts to squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and moles. Decorative awnings offer falcons a place to raise their young. At night, a different community of animals wakens to the world. Raccoons, skunks, and possums emerge to examine our human leftovers for edibles. Even pets feel the call of the wild—it’s not uncommon for well-fed cats in colorful collars to stalk the streets in search of prey. Signs of habitation, like nests or hives, and audible evidence, like chirps, will help you find them.
Recognizing that you share your city with a wide range of animals can make you feel like a part of the grand circle of life and help you appreciate the importance of a healthy urban environment. You can admire the hardiness and adaptability of the urban animal while developing a sense of stewardship that inspires you to become their champion. The shrill calls of birds, the hum of bees, and the sweet squeaks of city-dwelling mammals can be a symphony that help you develop a deeper connection with the nature world.