May 24 2009
Since I live in the City of Pittsburgh I believe I live far from Nature and have to leave town to see it. Meanwhile, my city neighborhood has quietly gone wild.
I shouldn’t be surprised at this. Fifty years ago Pittsburgh was very smoky and housed 680,000 people inside the city boundaries (which end at Ross, Wilkinsburg, Dormont and Crafton). Today it is not visibly smoky and the city population is about 300,000.
There’s lots of room for wildlife as I am finding out. The critters have been especially noticable this month … “in your face” if you ask me.
It started with the squirrels who’ve become very bold and more numerous as the month progressed. The extra squirrels are newbies who were probably led to my feeders by their mother. Now they lounge, play and fight in my backyard - and periodically try to break the bird feeder.
We have raccoons. They live across the street and come out at night to dig up my garden and wash their hands in the bird bath. I am really annoyed at the damage they’ve done to my front garden and I fear they may be eating eggs and baby birds as they did at Marcy Cunkelman’s a few days ago. My neighbor suggested red pepper as a way to discourage their digging. Marcy suggests removing the raccoon. She’s going to trap hers because he’s systematically eating every baby bird in her yard. Grrrr!
If I had a vegetable garden I’d be angry with the rabbits and groundhogs too. Yesterday a rabbit strolled into my backyard and ate all the dandelion leaves. This is good! The groundhogs have stayed across the street because I have nothing interesting for them to eat.
And the most surprising find … a toad on my neighbor’s steps at dawn on May 1. I have never heard frogs or toads singing in the city so it’s a wonder that this one showed up. Maybe the day will come when I hear spring peepers at home. Now that would be amazing!
(photo of an American Toad by Chuck Tague)