I’m reading a great book right now called Crow planet : essential wisdom from the urban wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. It’s about crows, obviously, but more than that it’s about staying connected to the wild even when you have to live in a less-than-wild place.
Suburban southern California isn’t the wildest place around, but it’s where I live and for better or worse, it’s the habitat I grew up in and am adapted to. The creatures that share this habitat aren’t as glamorous as the wolves and lions and orangutans that inhabit the “wild” parts of the world but they are just as resourceful and just as determined to survive.
The non-domesticated mammals around here are mostly nocturnal but I have seen them: raccoons, skunks, opossums. We probably have coyotes in the general area, but not right in my neighborhood — there are too many long lived feral cats living here; they would not live long if this was part of a coyote’s territory.
Birds are much more visible, and we have a good variety within walking distance of my house:
- American Crow
- House Sparrow
- House Finch
- European Starling
- Cattle Egret
- Turkey Vulture
- Yellow-rumped Warbler
- Northern Mockingbird
- Red-tailed Hawk
Go a little further afield and you will find Black-necked Stilts, Common Ibis, Common Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Mallard, Brewer’s Blackbird, Scrub Jay, Anna’s Hummingbird, California Gull, Broad-shouldered Hawk, Golden Eagle, California Quail, Brown Towhee, American Goldfinch, Acorn Woodpecker and many more. These are just the birds I commonly see from time to time while driving around or walking at the botanic garden.
I do have to wonder: do other people notice these fellow denizens of our scruffy-around-the-edges habitat? Do they just see a black bird or can they tell the difference between a Crow, a Starling, a Brewer’s Blackbird, and a Grackle? I hope that they do, but I doubt that many people can. I feel sorry for them; my world is so much richer and wider and wilder for knowing the names of all these different creatures.