Out My Back Door

Interstitial habitat has become a preoccupation of mine in recent years. “Interstitial habitat” is just how I describe the little strips of wooded or otherwise unpaved space here in the urban world. This might seem odd, coming from a man who’s just written a book about the wildest, most remote places but perhaps it required that far-removed perspective to gain an appreciation for micro-habitat.

Also, along the lines of changing perspective on the natural world, my girlfriend Susan has done much to broaden my horizons over the last few years, and specifically, asking me to look up more and notice the birds. We probably make a good couple, she naturally watching the avian realm while my eyes are on the aquatic. So, in any given outing, we come back with a richer collection of observations than either would have made alone.

As often as not, this observation happens in the little forested spaces between the streets and buildings here in Pittsburgh. These spaces are just easier to get to than the mountains, I guess. And often I feel that these interstitial habitats are richer in numbers and diversity of animals than the remote forests are. In so many cases, for so many animals, we humans have created better habitat than would naturally exist, creating ecotones and felling the dark, mature forests. Which isn’t to say that scattered abandoned lots are intrinsically better than mature forest but more to say that the animals are opportunists and can find the good in a changing world that they don’t control.

Couldn’t we all learn something from the adaptability of other creatures?


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