Spring in Three Cities
I spent a good chunk of April out of town, and am happy to be back on my island home, now in full leaf-out.
Oh, yes, it’s spring, at last.
Flowers are popping, and animals, too, are busting the confines of their lives.
We’re all border crossers, every one of us animals, our lifetime of crossings prefigured by our natal departure from a watery womb world or hard-shelled egg into the dangerous but seemingly limitless possibilities of earth and air. It’s never more evident than in springtime.
Baby birds are cracking out of eggs
Raccoons are emerging from dark holes and hollows
Turtles are leaving their watery homes to lounge on warm rocks
and seals are coming ashore in New York City, including a small beach in northern Manhattan.
(Read about my April encounter with a gray seal pup on Long Island here.)
In April, I worked in two midwestern cities, Indianapolis and St. Louis. Most of the time I spent in that strange, indoor world of theater rehearsals, a world that knows no seasons. But in each city, I managed one small adventure and found wildlife surprises.
One morning, I played hooky from the Bonderman Symposium at Indiana Repertory Theater to explore the city’s amazing collection of war memorials. (Visit my other blog, The Red Animal Project, to read an ongoing series about how we remember our war dead, including a look at the Indianapolis War Memorial Plaza.)
A robin gazed over the city from atop the head of a majestic lion at the War Memorial Museum and Shrine.
Trees clad in bridal gowns lingered along the paths of War Memorial Plaza
and a charmingly awkward American coot slowly revealed itself
then strolled alone in an expanse of green.
In St. Louis in the last days of April, I spied the first bird of the morning just steps from the hotel door.
A gorgeous rose-breasted grosbeak.
The killer loomed above the tiny victim: a wall of glass.
In the U.S. alone, collisions with man-made structures, particularly high-rise buildings, kill somewhere between 100 million and a billion birds a year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Solutions to the problem range from decals to dimming lights on high-rises, particularly during fall and spring migrations. If you ever notice a dead bird on the sidewalk, look up. If the bird lies beneath a building, please take the time to contact the building manager about the problem. If you live in a big city, you can volunteer with your local Audubon chapter to monitor collision deaths and advocate for changes in building codes and policies, such as Project Safe Flight.
Other top human-caused killers of birds are poisons and cats. Yes, cats. Pet cats take an enormous toll on wildlife. Accurate numbers are hard to come by, but it is clearly in the high hundreds of millions each year, if not well over a billion. Pet owners, please accept this inconvenient fact, and keep your cats indoors.
Back in St. Louis, I headed toward the Mississippi River, and discovered the city is a hot bed of cardinals. The fact that the hotel is half a block from the baseball stadium might have something to do with the extraordinary number of sightings.
Welcome Cardinal Nation!
Cardinals dressed up in baseball caps
Cardinals swung bats
and cardinals kept score
The park by the river was a dazzling green, and filled with robins and brilliantly irridescent blackbirds.
Sparrows on the steps to the river took a wildly active dust bath.
And then, at last, there was the river
Bursting its banks, covering walkways and ramps, the Mississippi is spectacular, unpredictable and dangerous.
I loved working in other cities, and I love being home in New York, New York.
Tags: birds collide with buildings, cats predation birds, causes of death in birds, Indiana War Memorial lion, NYC turtles, NYC wildlife in spring, Project Safe Flight, rose-breasted grosbeak, Saint Louis cardinals, Saint Louis wildlife, seal in Manhattan, Spring in NYCYou can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.