National Wildlife Refuge System

America’s Wild Read: City Wilds

In her essay, “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah,” Emily Hiestand writes of the blue jay couple building a nest in the wild black cherry tree outside her living room window.
Credit: Robert Engberg/Creative Commons

The nest of a blue jay is a “temporary, provisional architecture made of material plucked from the yards and gutters within a one-block radius, a landscape that is, thanks to a nearby mom & pop store, teeming with the detritus so attractive to a blue jay eye: glinting lottery tickets, popsicle sticks still sticky with grape or orange goo, newspaper twine, and candy wrappers, especially the Kit-Kat with its shook-foil silver lining.”

In her essay, “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah,” Emily Hiestand writes of the blue jay couple building a nest in the wild black cherry tree outside her living room window. Heistand is editor-at-large for the environmental magazine Orion. Her essay is the first to be discussed online as part of America’s Wild Read, where you can read the essay and join the discussion.

Heistand notes while watching the jays build their nest that she is “fluctuating between a quiet panic at having a life so marginal that she can spend most of a day watching blue jays nest and the sense that to observe a bit of creation come close to your window is to be at one of life’s hubs.”

All of the essays in the book City Wilds, edited by Terrell Dixon, draw attention to urban nature.

Other essays in the online book club series include:

"With present scientific knowledge, no human alive could chart the course of that one loggerhead as she found her way across the seas." by Betsy Hilbert in "Disturbing the Universe"
Credit: Jay Paredes
  • “A Paradise of Frogs” by John Hanson Mitchell, the editor of Sanctuary, the magazine of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.  Mitchell is the author of innovative and imaginative books about wildness surviving amidst our proliferating suburbs.
  • “Disturbing the Universe” by Betsy Hilbert, a scholar on women’s nature writing, who writes about her efforts on behalf of the endangered loggerhead turtles.
  • “The Extinction of Experience,” by Robert Michael Pyle, a lepidopterist who wrote The Audubon Society Guide to the Butterflies of North America. In this essay, he reflects on the High Line Canal near the Denver suburb of Aurora, which shaped his love of nature.

 

 

Last updated: August 26, 2013