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Autumn 2016 - Act•ionLine



The wildlife watching described by Ms. Feral sounds amazing bearing witness to the activities of herons, horseshoe and fiddler carbs. Living in Brooklyn, New York does not allow for much wildlife watching, but there have been some moments.

I take care of a colony of (tnr’d) feral cats and am often outside by 5:00 am (in all seasons), but one of the most endearing things I have seen was a baby opossum riding on its mom’s back as they headed “home” for their daytime sleeping after a night of out-and-about. I had never seen that before and so often people are quick to say that opossums “resemble rats and don’t belong around here”. However, I think they deserve their props…if I am not mistaken, they are the only marsupial to have crossed the land bridge from the southern hemisphere so many thousands of years ago. It seems as though they are quite nearsighted but have a fabulous sense of smell and love cat food.

The magnificent sense of smell also belongs to the raccoons who are also seen around the neighborhood after dark. They and the opossums have made their homes in the overgrown backyards of abandoned houses and the like. I am a Brooklyn native; living here all my life and there were never raccoons and opossums around when I was growing up. Humans have so encroached on habitat that once belonged to the animals that for at least 15 years now, these new residents of Brooklyn have been seen around.

The closest large park area near to where I live is Prospect Park…where I imagine they would be happier. In one area of the park, many years ago, you used to be able to see bats come out after sunset, but I don’t know if that happens anymore what with the bat populations being so decimated with white-nose syndrome (and now the mosquito population which is booming here…).

One of the “wildest” things I have witnessed in Brooklyn actually happened twice. Both times it was in the early morning hour when I have seen a red tailed hawk, swoop down and get its talons into the flanks of a pigeon pecking at the ground on Avenue M and just fly off with it like that. I remember just not moving (not breathing) at all as I watched what happened and wondered if the pigeon would feel funny about flying without flapping its wings…but then thinking that the unlucky pigeon was probably in shock.

Nature is cruel and wonderful…but to have the ability to watch without disturbing the animals is like being let into another world and learning a big secret. I really should have been a wildlife biologist as I get much pleasure in observing what little wildlife we have here. There are of course, the “Brooklyn College parrots” who make nests that are more like fabulous apartments! And not to forget the baby sparrow who flaps its wings like crazy to get the adults’ attention to bring more food. I love it!

Ilene Lurie

Brooklyn, NY


Act•ionLine Autumn 2016

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