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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Corner of Carl & Arguello

I am here. Right. Here.

Shortly before midnight, a great horned owl announces its presence at the corner of Carl and Arguello Streets. Perched atop my apartment building, ten feet above the bed in which I lay sleepless, the bird punctuates the quiet night with its territorial proclamations.

I am here. Right. Here.

I close my eyes and ... Read More »


I Thought Ladybugs Would be Easy

The Two-spotted Ladybug (Adalia bipunctata) is characteristically named. Most specimens have a black spot on each of their glossy red elytra, the modified beetle wings that act as protective covers for their delicate inner wings. A smaller proportion of the species are melanistic variations, black-bodied with red spots and rectangles. That makes them look quite ... Read More »

Red Winged Blackbird Singing

The Red-winged Knows: Rewilding on a Chicago Shore

“Whether one goes to nature for truth, or for beauty, for knowledge or for relaxation, these things can be found in a yard in the city as well as a tropical jungle, for they exist in the common, simple, everyday things all about us, as well as the rare and exotic.”

~ ... Read More »

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 »

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