Many nature lovers ache for more close encounters with wildlife. If wilderness adventures aren’t a possibility for you right now, perhaps answering the call of the wild lies in managing your expectations.
Maybe you’re unknowingly already surrounded by wildlife. This wildlife may not be getting picked up by your radar because as much as you may want to see it… it doesn’t want to risk any encounter with you. Back in 2006, scientists estimated that up to 2,000 coyotes were thriving in the city of Chicago. Raccoons and squirrels also thrive in urban areas. These often become pests if they are intentionally or inadvertently fed by humans.
Unseen local wildlife may also be nocturnal (like the Eastern American toad shown at top or the raccoon below). The best times to see activity are at dawn and dusk when animals are waking up or going home to sleep.
You may also be underestimating the wild nature of creatures in your own backyard. Just as fashion magazines have narrowed our vision of beauty over the years, so too have nature programs in exotic locales narrowed our idea of what’s wild. Even small or unsightly creatures deserve a closer look. Just be sure to keep a safe distance! Some creatures might seem tame but wild is wild.
Once you begin to observe wildlife in your own backyard, you may notice qualities you didn’t before. For example, the red squirrel with the sleek fur at bottom left is younger than the one with the nipped ear at right. You can also see a black stripe between its white underside and brown back which will fade in winter. Good luck in seeing more wildlife!
If you’d like to learn more about how to see more wildlife, see Sea Urchins in the Woods: How to See More Wildlife.
Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012