Alex Palmer's Natural History Notes and Thoughts

Thoughts and reflections on various social and environmental issues, as well as naturalist observations from the great outdoors.

Wild night in the city

In an earlier blog post, I spotlighted a common native species whose habitat consists of a city landscape.  Since moving to a large city from a small rural town, I have become weary of the usual city issues:  light pollution, excessive noise, invasive species, lack of wildlife habitat, smog, pollution, etc.  Yet for me it is fascinating to realize that there are native species that not only make these environments their home…but that they thrive on it.

If you reside in a city in the Northeast United States or the Midwest, you may catch glimpses of these native animals around and above the cityscape:

Common NightHawk (Chordeiles minor)

Commonly seen around dusk in towns and cities during the summer months.  It nests on rooftops as well as bare ground.  It is distinguishable by its long pointed wings which are held angled and raised.  Although it appears hawk-like, it is actually a member of the Night-jars, a group of medium-sized insect-eating birds.

Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)

See my earlier blog post.

Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

Commonly seen in backyards and grassy parks foraging on acorns.  It forms leafy, bushy nests in tall trees and can frequently be seen up close at bird-feeders (to much dismay).  This mammal frequently makes a hoarse barking noise, especially when confronted by domestic house cats (to which my house cats enjoy very much).

American Robin (Turdus Migratorious)

A familiar medium-sized bird with a dark grey back and a tan-red breast.  This common bird of backyards and grassy parks once migrated further south to escape the harsh winters of the Northern United States, but has since established itself year round in most areas due to the increase in ornamental yard plants which produce fruit year-round.  If one is observant, robins will often nest in large trees of urban parks and backyards, and it is common to see a female incubating her eggs.

Enjoy your wild neighbors of the city!  Avoid using lawn pesticides and place native plants in your yard.


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