Saturday, February 13, 2016

Life list



We live on a small lot on a fully developed street a couple of blocks off the main drag in a busy suburban town. The train station and the nearest hospital are a ten-minute walk away, and there are more restaurants, banks, and stores nearby than I can keep track of. So even though it's not a major urban area, it's not exactly rustic either. In spite of that (partly because of that) we see a healthy variety of wildlife, far more in fact than I did when I grew up a half-century ago a few miles away in an area that had more open space then where we live know. Within a half-mile of our doorstep (often in our yard itself) we've seen:
White-tailed deer
Eastern coyote
Grey fox (6/9/2016)
Bobcat (possible) (4/29/2017)
Raccoon
Rabbit
Skunk
Opossum
Muskrat
Groundhog
Gray squirrels (some of which are black)
Red squirrel (6/12/2016)
Chipmunk
Rat
Mouse
Shrew
Mole
Falcon (at least one species, possibly two)
Hawk (including an albino red-tail)
Barred owl (5/9/2016)
Great Horned Owl (April 2017)
Turkey vulture
Black vulture
Pheasant
Turkey
Pileated woodpecker
Red-bellied woodpecker
Downy woodpecker
Flicker
Crow
Pigeon
Mourning dove
Sea gull
Mute swan
Mallard duck
Wood duck (3/23/2016)
Canada goose
Heron (three species)
Killdeer
Eastern bluebird (3/22/2016)
Ruby-throated hummingbird
Bats
Garter snake
Snapping turtle
Red-eared slider
Painted turtle
Eastern box turtle (4/29/2017)
Red eft (5/7/2016)
Red-backed salamander
I'm sure I've forgotten some, and that's not counting miscellaneous songbirds, many of which I can't identify, frogs and toads, and invertebrates (like the leopard slug at the top of the page). Going just a few miles further afield we've seen bobcat, fox, mink, owls, and bald eagles. Bear and even moose are rumored to be occasional visitors, though I haven't seen them, and ravens are said to be moving into the region. Feral or semi-feral domestic cats are, of course, common.

Sighting a deer was very uncommon when I was young; I never saw a wild turkey at all, and coyotes were unheard of. Dogs were pretty much allowed to roam the neighborhood at will, back then, which I'm sure made a difference; there's also probably less hunting locally than there used to be. Several of the common species (Canada goose, mute swan, deer) are now regarded as serious pests.


In many parts of the world the prospects for wildlife are grimmer than they are here, where there seems to be a resurgence as opportunistic and adaptable species either come to terms with human presence or even learn to benefit from being around us (crows that live in urban areas reportedly live longer than woodland crows). I can't imagine how impoverished the landscape would be without them.

I'll fill in more species to this last as I spot or recall them.

3 comments:

Michael Leddy said...

Quite an inventory. We were seeing deer in our backyard two or three times a week a few months ago. An opossum was swatting a ground-level window a while ago. (Yikes.) I know more than I want to about moles. There used to be a lone blue heron sojourning at a nearby pond. Something I never would have expected to see: last summer, a crayfish in a tiny pool of muddy water.

Chris said...

We have the great blue heron, what I believe is the great egret, and a night-heron, all of which seem unbothered by human activities and fish in the brook that runs right through downtown. I'm sure we have crawdads. I know they're in the area and we have habitat for them, but I might have to go wading to spot them.

I've added snapping turtle to the list.

Madeline said...

Leopard Slug de Poose.