Jonathan Franzen on urban birding


Unexpected heavy snow this morning, so no park walk. However, there are hundreds of birds in my back yard at this moment. Most are pigeons and house sparrows, but a male cardinal just did a star turn, posing on a holly branch against the fluffy backdrop. His mate is nearly as visually striking, against the white backdrop. Lots of juncos (a native sparrow) are hopping about, too. And to think that yesterday it was bare ground again, – but for the dirty piles lining the roadways.

Salon.com this morning has a piece by Andrew O’Hehir about a new documentary, Birders: The Central Park Effectthat features the author, Jonathan Franzen. He writes that a former head of the Audubon Society tells a group of birders, even common non-endangered species of birds have experienced precipitous population declines in recent decades and widespread avian extinction is occurring…

Still, urban islands of green like Central Park, a manufactured wilderness that now behaves almost like a real one, can attract staggering numbers of migratory birds.

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2 thoughts on “Jonathan Franzen on urban birding

  1. It’s amazing how much wildlife can be found in the cities. A few years ago I wrote a piece for Washingtonian Magazine about the deer that thrive throughout much of the city along with many of the creatures typically found in rural settings, including coyotes that patrolled the back yards and open spaces under cloak of darkness.

    • I’ve seen a single coyote in 10 years, rarer sightings include two fishers, bald eagle (overhead), great horned owl, barred owl, and a couple of wild turkeys. Though many others have told me they’ve seen them, – I can’t confirm deer. Springfield sits on the Connecticut River, as water ways were ‘highway’ systems. Tiny strips of undeveloped land remaining become paths for animals, like deer, coyote, bear and moose, that wander from their native habitat… trying to survive.

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