Have you heard about the cat-size rats in the
city subways? Or discarded pet snakes, dumped into plumbing
systems, who emerge unexpectedly from someone else’s toilet?
Or those alligators in the sewers? These, and other fanciful
urban animal legends, resurface every so often, just like
the wandering snakes. However, some of the wild animals that
really do occasionally show up within city limits, and make
good newspaper copy, seem equally improbable.
How do South American Monk Parakeets survive
so far north? There are thriving colonies of them in several
Brooklyn locations, and these green parrots have also been
spotted in Central Park and in Riverdale’s Wave Hill. Why
is there a flourishing population of western Black-tailed
Jackrabbits at John F. Kennedy International Airport? It is
believed that escapees from a shipment en route to a game
farm found the flat, grassy airport fields congenial. A Florida
Manatee, affectionately named "Chessie," swam up the East
River in 1995. Humpback and other whales have been fatally
stranded on Rockaway and other New York City beaches.
Since Pelham Bay and Van Cortlandt parks in
the Bronx border the mainland, it is not surprising that Coyotes
and White-tailed Deer have traveled south from wild areas
of Westchester County. A dead Gray Fox was found in Forest
Park, Queens, and Red Foxes have been reported in parks in
Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. Ring-necked Pheasants have
been observed in natural areas in every borough. American
Bald Eagles, whose nesting populations elsewhere in New York
State have increased, are occasionally spotted in the city,
flying overhead. Last spring, in an attempt to introduce the
species locally, four eaglets were installed in a special
nest cage in Inwood Park. Many other animals featured elsewhere
in the exhibition, including Golden Eagles, Gyrfalcons, some
migrant songbirds, and many butterflies and moths, are infrequently
seen, and might also be considered occasional neighbors.
Check out the sighting
log to record your interaction with some of the native
New York City wildlife featured in Urban Neighbors.
You may also browse the sighting log by animal, borough, park
or natural area, and/or habitat to view a sighting you have
submitted or to read others’ observations.
and subspecies / NYPL
Red Fox / NYPL
Michael J. Feller
Don Riepe, American Littoral Society