I didn’t know. I don’t know a lot, but I thought I knew something about nature. So how did this happen? How?! And why is this new reality happening to me? Lives altered, changed for a lifetime; mine, people around me, and a few who have no idea. Me, I did it, and I blame myself of course, now; I didn’t know I’d be casting blame or later think I’d lost my mind. To talk openly about my suspicion is out of the question for reasons I’ll explain in future posts. Only after I’d been hit by a car while riding my bike and, as a result, entering into group therapy sessions to help overcome residual fear and anxiety, did I openly talk about, unbelieving at times, a new life with birds.
The truth is I’m writing this blog first to help myself; part therapy, part urban nature log. But I’d also like to reach out to other terra bound humans wondering if they’re being followed, recognized or hated even, by the nature in their backyards. I made contact with an Ornithologist and received a response including unhelpful tidbits like, “Wow. I’ve never heard of the strange behavior you mentioned without a caloric payoff.” In my mind I’m thinking ‘yes bitch. I know! I need some scientific help here and you’re not giving it to me’. But I’ve only tried to contact researchers briefly and the time has arrived to make an effort to learn more and find out if my experiences might contribute to a body of knowledge rooted in less tangible, less group driven behavior of the individual urban animal.
Growing up in Canada I camped as a kid, canoed, fished and traveled from coast to coast over my fifty years. I learned the basics of mingling with nature; a bee hive, spotting poison ivy and bear dung, knowing a hawk call, what catching a big fish meant. But I didn’t know, ‘fucking with nature’ means more than leaving trash in campsites and out in the woods, or feeding wildlife human food or pet food, or being made to remember local animal ecosystem are permanent and I’m a tourist. All these lessons are true and none of it’s changed, but I didn’t know ‘fucking with nature’ also has a base character/animal element category. I learned though, and I learn still.
I spent my young adult life in Toronto, Ontario and animal interaction meant domestic types. A few up close wild animal moments happened while camping or country living in rural PEI and Ontario; I always knew to keep my distance. I grew up in the suburbs and cites; raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, pigeons, starlings, chickadees, etc., and occasionally crows, is the bulk of wildlife. Living now in Los Angeles, I continue to keep a distance, but I confess to have fed the occasional house sparrow or little bird hanging out at the donut or coffee shop. One Google search and you’ll be able to pull up a ton of video clips of people around the world either saving wild animals or recording what is mostly perceived as adorable behavior, especially in North American and the West. I’ll never look at birds the same way again after the transpiring events I’ve experienced in the last two and more years.
We’ve interacted with urban wildlife since towns and cities were built. As humans, we basically look and act the same way on the regular, but we constantly communicate individually with our surroundings in less obvious ways. People feed urban animals all the time. Totally unnecessary. Plenty of human food around. I’ve grown to understand having a relationship with urban wildlife isn’t only about the ‘caloric’ payoff, or from a source of independence on behalf of the, likely, abandoned or injured animal. An emotional relationship is also possible build on nothing more than regular visits to location; an emotional bond developed from individual recognition outside the group. Animals understand individual character. And not only the higher mammal species; animals and insets of all types, all the way down the chain of life, I’d say, have the ability to understand individual human behavior and vice versa. The urban wildlife community has the true, broad, and socially untainted insight of human behavior and character beyond our ability to identify or even comprehend.