City critters welcome in our urban jungle.

As I sit here, on our back porch, wrapped in a blanket, wearing a jacket (it’s around 50F – in July!), and listening to all the early morning commotion, I realize how hard it can be to explain to some country folk that city living can be noisy – but not the noisy most automatically assume comes with city living.  Sure, there’s the far away humming of Main Street traffic, and on Tuesday’s the rumble of the garbage truck – but let’s be honest, unless you live so far out in the country that you are required to take your garbage to the dump, you too hear the garbage truck at some point.

The noises I hear this morning include the birds chirping, caterwauling, fighting for territory, and singing – because they can.  I’m not a bird watcher, so I don’t know the different types that populate our neighborhood, and I can’t identify them by their calls.  But what I do know, is that there are a lot of them, and I mean a lot!  We have at least two nests in our yard, and from our bathroom window you can watch the birds bathe in the neighbors’ downspout.  They do make a racket – the birds, not the neighbors.   When I sit in my chair on the porch in the morning, I frequently get buzzed as birds fly around the corner quickly – this morning was no exception!  Today I was so startled (probably because I was writing about it and didn’t expect it at that moment) that I almost spilled my tea!  They fly by so close to my head I can feel them or the air movement they create!

And those are just the birds.  Yes, we live in a city.  It might not be a huge metropolis like New York, Philadelphia, or San Franciso, but it’s urban.  We have around 1/12 th of an acre – a small enough yard that it gets measured in feet rather than acres.  We can talk to our neighbors, porch to porch, with out raising our voices.  We can tell when our neighbors turn on, or off, their porch light.  We have “street parking”, a term only used in city lingo, and street sweepers.  We have a sidewalk.  Distances are measured in blocks.  Yet much wildlife lives here too.

I find it humorous when suburbanites and country folk act as if city dwellers don’t have issues with wildlife.  Sure, we don’t have deer nibbling on Hostas in our neighborhood.  But we do have, or have had, raccoons that can undo bungee cords on garbage cans; groundhogs in basements and under garden sheds; flocks of turkeys; bear, yes, black bears – once there were 2 cubs in the tree in the alley, and a nervous mama bear patrolling the grounds; a coyote that a neighbor thought was a mangy dog, until closer inspection; an 8 foot black snake; song birds and bird of prey; a squirrel that liked to taunt the dog by tossing things at her; bats; rabbits, moles, and garden shrews; hummingbirds and bumble bees.

I know that our little urban oasis is in a “greener” corner of town and that not all city dwellers have what it considered a large city lot, like ours.  But with the growth of urban farms, and the number of city dwellers working towards greening their little plot of space, don’t be surprised if that person with whom you’re discussing chicken coop predator protection methods is an urban farmer.   After all, even in the oldest of cities, the critters where here first.

Hammy, from the movie "Over the Hedge" (movie based on comic strip of the same name).
Hammy, from the movie “Over the Hedge” (movie based on comic strip of the same name).

And let’s face it, you’ve got a logical, reasoning brain, and you understand the idea of convince.  Imagine what an animal operating on instinct and necessity will do with easily accessible food, water, and shelter?  And what is more convenient than shiny cans of food, leaky water faucets, and heated crawl spaces?  Even the most intelligent among us can be outsmarted by a critter with survival instincts.  And therein lies the struggle between man and beast.  Yes, it’s a struggle, but here in my urban jungle, it’s a struggle only when one of the parties isn’t happy.  And personally, I love hearing the birds chirping when I wake up in the morning – even over the low rumbling and droning of the neighbors air-conditioner in the background.