Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to Exoticize the Not-So-Other

I’ve been feeling guilty these days. Now, I have any number of things to feel guilty about, from the (non)regularity with which I dust to the fact that I’ve never gotten all the way through Moby Dick—but my guilt in this case was related to the disturbing pattern I’d fallen into in my approach towards this blog and, by extension, the natural world.

Of course it’s great to have—and take—the opportunity to see, photograph, and remark upon zoo-life, but lately I’ve found myself considering them the only subject for posts—and, therefore, the only animal subjects worthy of observation. This goes against the very title of my blog, not to mention my better nature, and I’m quite ashamed of myself. Here we are, surrounded by wild things that miraculously survive—and thrive!—even in our labyrinths of concrete: surely they too deserve notice and respect.

So I’ve tried to once again pay more attention to the world around me, even as I walk to and from work or return from the grocery store, laden with the basic necessities of fresh bread and peanut M&Ms (hey, Annie was out of town).

In doing so, I’ve become fascinated all over again by the intensity and ingenuity of urban birds and squirrels that know where, and how, to acquire food that humans discard (or, in some cases, the food that humans have looked away from for half a minute).

I spied this squirrel sneaking along the façade of an apartment building, gripping a huge hunk of bread (a bagel? a pita?) in its mouth, but I couldn’t pull my camera out in time to document the food-snatching-sneakery. I was able to capture the dirty look it gave me, though.

I also noticed some of the perching spots of local pigeons:

It made me wonder whether they tend to congregate on buildings that are, or are near, food shops during the day—the better to snatch a bite—and then retreat to more isolated areas at night.

And, on my way home one day, I spotted this insect awkwardly but determinedly navigating the jungle formed by a patch of ground ivy:

At first I feared I was ogling an invasive Japanese beetle, but a little light Googling determined that it was in fact a native June bug!

I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly seen a June bug before, so this was very exciting for me.

Apart from the June bug, none of these species were novel, and I didn’t see them engage in any remarkably new or atypical behavior. Nonetheless, there’s much enjoyment to be had in what is common but overlooked, and I hope to do a better job of illustrating that here.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Great shot of the June bug. Now I know what it looks like. But the beetles on the rugosas, copulating unabashedly in full daylight here, were Japanese beetles. Green thumb again!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't think I ever saw a June bug before-very colorful.

squirrel said...

Looks like your house sparrow was having a dust bath. There are a lot of fun behaviors to observe with those birds and squirrels. Congrats on the June bug, I find it rare to even see an insect in the city. Nice attention to detail. I look forward to more city observations.

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