back to the urban prairie

July 13, 2006

in Field work,Urban issues

Recently we returned to the urban prairie, with camera, to check up on the birds.

Here’s the same neighborhood by City Airport shown in the previous post, from Google Maps.  Right near that warehouse, we found a singing Eastern Meadowlark!  The green arrow serves as a placemarker for the intersection of Gilbo and Leander.  Click on the images to enlarge.


Using Google Earth, we can pan down the intersection of Gilbo and Leander, looking southwest down Leander.


I think the Google images are around three years old. Here is what the urban prairie looks like from that the same intersection. You can look at the 1961 photo in the previous post to see all the homes that used to be here. Yes, the city did get out to mow this area, so it looks rather tidy.


Some streets have more trash than others.  When the city mows the lots, they don’t mow where there are piles of garbage, and it contributes to these properties becoming more overgrown with shrubs and trees than grass and herbaceous plants. Certain tree species are distinctive in these areas; I’ll have to do a post called “A field guide to the urban prairie.” This woodsy block, where we heard a Red-eyed Vireo, is a few streets over:


While there are some occupied houses in the neighborhood, there are also a lot like this one nearby on French Road, right across from the airport runways, getting swallowed up by vegetation:


As I mentioned, Ring-necked Pheasants are probably more common in the city of Detroit than in the suburbs. Here is a cautious cock peeking over the grass in yet another abandoned lot, this one in southwest Detroit:

This area of Detroit is quite interesting to me, as when my maternal relatives immigrated here from Canada around 1900, they all lived in this area. Using old census data, I’ve looked for their homes; not a single one still exists. Some gave way to freeways and industry, some just gave way. This is a struggling area with a rich history, strong sense of identity, and near the center of Detroit’s Hispanic community.  I’ll write about it in the future.

Have I piqued anybody’s interest about this 305-year-old city?  Here are some links, so you can explore beyond the headlines:


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