Wild Evanston

We humans share Evanston with a lot of wildlife. Over spring break, my daughter called me down to take a look at some "strange bird" sitting on a branch in a backyard tree. It was a large hawk, which Barb Mitchell thinks is the red-tailed hawk she says she's seen around here for years, and whose call I've heard, but the coloration and markings to me looked more like a Swainson's hawk in the light phase, or even a Cooper's hawk. Dunno, by the time I grabbed a camera, it'd gone. One morning last summer, going out to get the paper, my wife saw a coyote trotting down the sidewalk on Harrison St. Of course there is the raccoon family who have visited us nightly for the last 18 years in warm weather; by now they seem like old friends. This year there are more babies than last, one night recently I watched a troupe of 6. Possums, skunks, the ubiquitous squirrels, several species of mice....and the oddest, the rare flying squirrel. My cats have brought home 2 in all the time we've lived here, tho, so I know they're out there. If you watch at dusk you can occasionally see bats. Chipmunks and rabbits are much more numerous since West Nile hit a few years ago, since that virus wiped out so many crows and bluejays who preyed on the small rodents.

I think it's cool that there's this little hybrid ecosystem going on around all around us, especially at night, even tho our animal neighbors' agendas are sometimes a little different than ours. The animals, of course, were here first, and never signed any treaties with settlers. By and large they mind their own business, altho some of the squirrels seem a little OCD in their gnawing and hoarding, and raccoons sometimes leave a deck or patio area looking like there was a wild teen party. The Humane Society of the US has a nice web page on living with urban wildlife. Click to their second page and there are specific suggestions on dealing with various species.