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City Creatures Blog

As urban populations grow, and contact with nature becomes more constricted, is our psychological and social well-being in jeopardy?  Are healthy ecological communities, biological diversity, and even wilderness compatible with urban areas?  An extension of our City Creatures project, this blog explores how cities can be remarkable places that offer opportunities for intimacy, connection, and transformation with other species, and with one another, in our shared urban habitats.  

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garden bunny

Death in the Backyard

Death keeps finding a way to my backyard.

Most recently, it was the bunny. The kids—my daughter and three neighbor friends—found him on the sidewalk after an encounter with a feral cat. He seemed hale and hearty except for the blood dripping from his engorged left eye. We fashioned a laundry basket and large sheet of ... Read More »


The Bear and Me

One morning recently I found myself crying while reading William Faulkner’s “The Bear.” It was a Saturday and I’d woken earlier than usual, just after five, and my brain was too busy to return to sleep. I’d read the earlier stories in Go Down, Moses during the week and had been planning to give some ... Read More »


Charles Bowden’s Creatures

The writer Charles Bowden died last year. In the final twenty years of his life—a period in which he wrote primarily on the horrors of the drug business in the southwest borderlands—he produced a trilogy of books, the last of which, Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing, is maybe the clearest distillation of his ... Read More »

Prancing horses at sunset

All the Wild Horses

Last September, at the tail end of a long summer, I had the opportunity to take part in a guided visit to the Oostvaardersplassen, a 6,000-hectare nature reserve to the east of Amsterdam. What made this opportunity unique is that nature is largely left to its own devices at the Oostvaardersplassen. Although the area is ... Read More »


A Private Solstice Celebration

Today, one day past the Solstice, that pregnant time when what-was and what-will-be seem more closely intertwined than at all other times, conditions are favorable: chilly, wind picking up, lowering clouds, the smell of rain in the air.

A paper grocery sack full of seeds has been sitting in the kitchen by my back door since ... Read More »


Exile on Clark Street

So, I’m a wildlife biologist. And that means I have colleagues who work in places like the Serengeti, in Tanzania. They tell stories of working near rhinos, which they describe as being like boulders in motion. They set monitoring equipment, with awe and fear, where lions sleep. They have tales of cars breaking down a ... Read More »


Little Bluestem Highways

Fresh off the trail from a 3-month horseback expedition to document the changing Great Plains landscape, I drove from Sheridan, Wyoming, to Colorado Springs to visit my family. To go entirely across a state and into another in a matter of eight hours is a peculiar thing once you’ve taken about three ... Read More »


The Nature of My Inspiration

I used to think that I needed to escape the city to experience nature. To me, the city of Chicago was a vast, looming mass of industry where one had to search through a steel maze to catch a glimpse of sunlight at any hour that wasn’t noon. I grew up in the southwest suburbs ... Read More »


Happy Holidays to Us All

“What is the message that wild animals bring, the message that seems to say everything and nothing? What is this message that is wordless, that is nothing more or less than the animals themselves—that the world is wild, that life is unpredictable in its goodness, and its danger, that the world is larger than your ... Read More »


A Stranger in Our Midst

The caterpillar wrinkling along its way looked like your standard issue caterpillar: lots of legs, little hairs, patterned with vaguely geometric design elements. “Its way” happened to be just at the border between the sidewalk and the lawn of a multiunit apartment building down the street from my house.

I had been alerted to it ... Read More »

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