“This refuge is not as nice as the others because it is an urban refuge.” I find statements like this so dismissive of how important urban green spaces can be.
I’m so surprised by just how much you can see at a city park. One of my brothers wanted to practice taking photographs, so we went to one of the larger parks in the Los Angeles county suburbs. Despite the manicured grass and paved sidewalks he was able to see birds that he had never seen before. Having to slow down to take pictures allowed him to look at the birds carefully, “I never really paid attention to all the little birds; I thought they were all sparrows.” Even though the birds we saw that day are pretty common, he was astonished to see so many different types of birds in a city park. The two following photos were taken by my brother Darrill, on his trip to the park.
TRNWR has a pair of nesting eagles, beavers, and all sorts of wildlife and plant species that I have never seen before, including the delicious ‘salmon berry’ which is not available in major grocery stores (just don’t go berry-picking at the refuge!). Compared to the park near my home in California, TRNWR almost looks like a truly natural area. I’m slightly exaggerating, but to someone who doesn’t have much access to green spaces, going to the refuge must be an eye-opening experience, especially with all the great volunteer naturalists that are always here to provide some insight on the refuge wildlife.
Fortunately for me, in Oregon I can see a lot of critters without trying too hard. To my pleasant surprise, I have often seen a red-breasted sapsucker right outside the house. I pass by this tree every day, yet if I hadn’t seen the red-breasted sapsucker pecking away, I never would have noticed all the holes that it has already made in the tree! This experience has reminded me to not only take a moment to observe nature, but also to appreciate how much you can learn from everyday things. When it comes to parks, bigger isn’t necessarily better, as long as they are accessible, you’re bound to have a great time. Whether the parks and refuges are big or small, natural or man-made, we can learn a lot from them.