Wild in the City

Just like people, animals come from all over to live in the city. Many choose city life because their homes in the wild have been destroyed. Others prefer the city because it offers plenty of food but few natural enemies. These animals make their homes in every part of the city—in parks and neighborhood backyards and even on busy bridges and downtown skyscrapers.

Most Canada geese fly south for the winter and return north for the summer. As they travel, they stop to rest in city parks and golf courses. Some geese enjoy their visit so much that they decide to raise a family and become year-round city dwellers.

Growing cities have taken over much of the woods and grasslands that were once home to deer and red foxes. These animals haven't moved to the city. The city has moved to them! Sometimes they wander into neighborhood yards, looking for food—or a place to play.

For deer, a backyard garden offers a feast of flowers and tender plants. Foxes can find many favorite foods there, too, including mice, squirrels, birds, insects, or maybe some delicious dinner scraps in someone's garbage.

On some city sidewalks there are more pigeons than people. They're busy pecking for crumbs dropped by people passing by. When it's time to rest, they look for rooftops, window ledges, bridges, and other places that are like the rocky cliffs that were once their home.

In the wild raccoons live in hollow trees or empty burrows, but in the city they happily find homes in chimneys, attics, garages, or sewers. They roam the city at night, using their keen sense of smell to find food. With their skillful paws, they can open garbage cans, storage bins, and even closed doors.

High atop a city skyscraper, a peregrine falcon watches for a pigeon flying below. In the wild, peregrines live along cliffs and in mountains. But in many cities they have adapted well to flying and hunting among tall buildings instead. When a peregrine spots a pigeon, it dives down at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour to catch a quick lunch in its powerful claws. Now that's fast food!

Vocabulary

adapt:
To change to fit a different activity or purpose.

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Activity

  1. Imagine that people decide to build a town on a prairie. What kinds of animals might live on that prairie?
    [anno: Answers may vary but could include animals such as deer, rodents, birds, and foxes.]
  2. How might building a town be harmful to the animals living on that prairie?
    [anno: Building a town might destroy a lot of the animals' homes.]
  3. What are some things people could do to help the animals that used to live on that prairie?
    [anno: Answers may vary but could include suggestions such as the town could build a lot of parks.]