"In THE URBAN BESTIARY, acclaimed nature writer Lyanda Lynn Haupt journeys into the heart of the everyday wild, where coyotes, raccoons, chickens, hawks, and humans live in closer proximity than ever before. Haupt's observations bring compelling new questions to light: Whose "home" is this? Where does the wild end and the city begin? And what difference does it make to us as humans living our everyday lives? In this wholly original blend of science, story, myth, and memoir, Haupt draws us into the secret world of the wild creatures that dwell among us in our urban neighborhoods, whether we are aware of them or not. With beautiful illustrations and practical sidebars on everything from animal tracking to opossum removal, THE URBAN BESTIARY is a lyrical book that awakens wonder, delight, and respect for the urban wild, and our place within it."
(Credit to Tom Furtwangler)
Boston Globe: https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2013/10/01/book-review-the-urban-bestiary-encountering-everyday-wild-lyanda-lynn-haupt/vJz7T6zrhspD3WRWAaS6XK/story.html
Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/book-review-8216the-urban-bestiary8217-by-lyanda-lynn-haupt-1383335863
Christian Science Monitor: https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2013/1206/The-Urban-Bestiary-author-Lyanda-Lynn-Haupt-looks-at-the-animals-who-inhabit-our-cities
At Words, Writers and West Seattle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLXCrkII6z8
1. The author writes that “observation is a lovely overlooked word. It seems to indicate separation; one thing observing another. “ (p. 19) The word evolved from the Medieval Latin observare and means not to just watch but also “to attend”. How do you “view” our community animals? Has reading this book changed how you “watch”?
2. From Haupt’s descriptions, enlightening stories and anecdotes about different mammals and birds, which stories or observations did you find surprising, such as the playful coyote, territorial moles, dreaming, intelligent opossums, ticklish rats, counting pigeons, the chickadee’s varied language and leadership, and/or the tool making crows, etc.?
3. What personal experiences have you had with the many animals that surround us and share and are a part our community?
4. The author often starts each chapter with a myth, such as the Romanian creation myth about the mole, or the Navajo myth about the coyote or the Ratatoskr squirrel creature of Norse mythology, creation of the hummingbird by the Mayan Great God, etc.. Which stories did you find intriguing?
5. Thoreau wrote, “When I know the name of a creature, I find it difficult to see.” whereas the author states, “I think that such knowing is a kind of gracious hosting, one that enriches not only our own lives, but also the lives of birds. “ What is your experience and opinion about this?
6. The author encourages us to learn the five most common birds around our homes and would most likely include: house sparrows, robins, crows, house finches, starlings and perhaps chickadees. Then, she suggests, learn the next 20 most common birds. Which birds do you think that includes for our area? Do you keep a personal list of bird sightings?
7. “House sparrows, European starlings and rock pigeons form a triumvirate of ubiquitous and disdained nonnative urban birds”, (p. 174), however the author goes on to describe many amazing and interesting attributes of these birds for us to consider. What is your opinion about their presences in our community before and now after reading this chapter? Also, discuss the impact on the physiology of animals living in urban settings.
8. How do you feel about the author including trees and humans in the bestiary? What do you think about the concept of prosthetics by Dr. Catton? (p. 298)
9. If were to write your own Bestiary, which animals and other life forms would you include?
10. What are your daily habits or ways that you personally connect with the natural world around you? Do you keep a journal, save trees, bake bread, or watch birds?