Hear the words “city birds” and you’re likely to picture a handful of common nonnative species such as the European starling, house sparrow and pigeon. But a long-term survey of breeding birds in Baltimore, Maryland, has revealed that a surprising number and diversity of native birds call that city home—from backyard feeder visitors such as blue jays, chickadees and cardinals to elusive warblers and wood thrushes to shore-loving herons, gulls and cormorants.
Researchers conducting the ongoing survey, sponsored by National Science Foundation, tallied birds in a handful of city parks, but recorded the majority of species and individual birds in the places where Baltimore’s human residents live and work. “Traditionally, people tended to view metro areas like Baltimore as biological deserts,” John Kostyack, NWF’s vice president for wildlife conservation, notes in a recent article, “Urban Renewal,” published in National Wildlife magazine. “But it turns out that many of us live where the wild things are.”
Pictured below are seven of the more than six dozen bird species scientists found breeding and rearing young in Baltimore—a city that recently announced plans to be certified as an NWF Community Wildlife Habitat®.
All photos were donated by past participants in the National Wildlife Photo Contest. To enter your best wildlife and other nature images in this year’s competition, visit the contest site.