Thursday, January 12, 2012
Bird Watching in the City
In an email the other day, a friend of mine complained that he was interested in birding but thought his opportunities were limited because he lived in a large city.
Actually, birdwatching can be excellent in cities. One just has to pay attention. Many birds are opportunistic, that is they take what they can get. If a metropolis can provide shelter and food for them, that's often where they will be. Peregrine falcons have adapted to city living where the ledges of tall buildings approximate the cliffs of their natural habitat. In fact, city officials have helped introduce nesting pairs to their towns. Also, every city I know has a large park that several bird species call home. If you live someplace that's on a coast there will be several sea birds waiting to be seen. Put up a bird feeder. Yo will be surprised at who shows up.
A couple of my most memorable bird encounters took place while visiting downtown St. Louis.
Walking around, shopping, and being the typical tourist, I was startled by an American kestral that swooped down seemingly from nowhere and pluck a poor house sparrow from its perch on top of a metal sign, carrying it away in its talons. Later that day, visiting Forest Park, I witnessed two beautiful Mississippi kites trying their best to peck people on the head to keep them away from their nest.
Anyway, the point of all this is to encourage city dwellers to begin birdwatching. The birds are there and you'll see them if you look.