Urban Bestiary by Lynda Lynn Haupt

The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild Cover

It is time for a new bestiary, one that engages our desire to understand the creatures surrounding our urban homes, helps us locate ourselves in nature, and suggests a response to this knowledge that will benefit both ourselves and the more-than-human world. We were born for this knowing, for  a quick, innate sensitivity to other animals. We are evolutionarily formed to be attuned to the presence and habits of animals.  p. 8

The Bard had an ear for birdlife; there are larks and nightingales and chaffinches a plenty, winging and singing their way through the sonnets, the comedies, the tragedies. But there is just one slender starling. p. 176

A planet on which urban crows are thriving in such numbers is a planet with too much concrete–a substrate to which very few nonhumans can adapt. It is a place where we can be informed by the wild creatures in our midst even as the rich diversity of wild animals is replaced by a few dominant, resourceful species. Crows render both wonder and warning.  p. 228

Mythologically [hawks and owls] have always evoked power, vision, wisdom, the hunt, transition, death. Hawks represent the solar aspect of these themes, owls the lunar…When a hawk shows herself beneath the light of the sun, somewhere nearby her lunar owl sister sits, bark-plumage invisible against the trunk of a park tree, feathered lids closed against the intrusive daylight.  p. 248

Paying attention, attending, we begin to live more creatively, compassionately, brightly, fearfully. Fearfully in the beautiful archaic sense–the complex yet natural twining of dread and reverence. We take our place in the difficult balance of earthen grace.  p. 262





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