Nature in the city

The other night I was out walking Zeus and heard the most unusual sound (please, have a listen!). It was about 11 p.m. so I knew it had to be some kind of night jar or owl, but it sounded like no other kind of owl I’d heard before. It was kind of faint, but I think I actually heard another “answer” call from the opposite direction. After doing some online searching, I found a recording that was exactly the right pitch and length. It was an Eastern Screech Owl!

Eastern Screech Owl by Benimoto on Flickr
Eastern Screech Owl by Benimoto on Flickr

I of course didn’t see the owl but Eastern Screech Owls are the funniest looking little guys. They squint up their eyes if they’re spotted, so as to camoflage themselves. From what I’ve read, they prefer fairly open woodlands, which makes wooded urban neighborhoods perfect for them. They apparently avoid deep woods because this is the territory of larger owls, like the Great Horned Owl.

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper's Hawk

A couple weeks ago I saw this hawk fly over the house and land in the tree across the street. I’m about 95% sure it’s a Cooper’s Hawk, because of the tail shape, the length of his legs and the barring under his wings. I didn’t really get a good look at his head.

More and more lately I’ve noticed birds of prey in the city. They certainly have lots to keep them busy (pigeons and squirrels make excellent hawk-food). There’s even a mated pair of red-tailed hawks living in Queen’s Park downtown. Seeing and hearing these lovelies in the city gives me faith that our indigenous flora and fauna can not only coexist with us, but thrive.


  1. Michelle says:

    You’ve heard about the recent coyote troubles in The Beaches, right? This articles is a bit whiney but:

    I’m in favour of anything that might eat a raccoon, frankly. The idea that people might have to take more care with their pets actually seems like a fringe benefit to me.

  2. admin says:

    I have heard about the coyotes. Frankly, I’m on their side. I don’t want to see anyone lose a pet of course, but I have always marveled at wildlife making a go of it in our urban centres. Humans are wrong to believe we somehow take priority over the other inhabitants of our planet.

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