Recently I came upon a post by a Toronto journalist celebrating the many ravines in Toronto, the refuge of much local wildlife, valleys created by the rivers that run south through our city. As someone who has been exploring those places since the 1960s, I know them well and I celebrate them too.
But when he declared these ravine parks to be ‘wild’, unlike planned human-created parks like Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City, my reaction was – “Wait a minute!” For I know NYC too.
Does he know about the deer that are migrating from Long Island into the eastern districts of New York? Does he know about the coyotes that have crossed the George Washington bridge to take up residence in Central Park?
Much of Central Park and Prospect Park have been naturalized and they are becoming home to an increasing number of wild species.
Does he know about the wild parrots of New York ? (Monk parakeets mostly) – Their origin might not have been wild, but these little South Americans insist on living wild in the giant metropolis. You can read more about them at – www.wildparrotsny.com.
Does he know about 25,000 acre Jamaica Bay, with its many islands south of Brooklyn and JFK airport that has been a wildlife refuge for a long time? One of the best birdwatching locations in the world, it also has good fishing, recently became home to a colony of seals, and it’s accessible by subway.
Does he know about the naturalization of vacant lands along the East River, where even some of the piers have been turned into habitat for wild species?
Does he know that the East River provides good fishing for flounder and striped bass, and is home to many other aquatic species, like crabs and sea horses?
Well, I better stop. It’s natural that we may sometimes want to brag about our own cities, but when we do we should be careful about making comparisons with others.