Monday, June 06, 2005

Downtown San Jose

Even in downtown San Jose there are elements of wildness, proving that if the habitat is there, the creatures it serves can survive. Early this afternoon I discovered scrub jays nesting on the rafter of a dilapidated shed behind a Victorian house just a few blocks from San Jose State University. It struck me as a clever place to nest, fairly secure from predators, in a part of the backyard rarely seen or used.

A little later in the afternoon I was delighted to find rough-winged swallows flying quite close to me in the downtown park on Market Street. There were many people about besides myself, but the swallows seemed heedless of them, intent on seeking their insect prey. They were swooping as low as about a foot from the ground over the turfgrass. I suppose the fountain area, and the linear nature of the park with its large trees, echoes the typically riparian habitats they commonly frequent. The many native coast live oaks in the park probably also help produce some insects for them. I suppose the park is a secondary foraging ground, with the riparian habitat along the river their primary foraging and nesting territory. I had never been so close to the species as this afternoon in the downtown park -- repeatedly they flew within a few feet of me, and even between people on the broad walkways!

Yesterday on the driveway here I came upon mourning doves -- they seemed rather fat -- lots of weed seeds in this neighborhood. Like the swallows of today, they seemed more habituated than usual to human presence and I got much closer to them than one typically ever can get to birds in wilder habitats.

It delights me to be able to more closely observe such beautiful creatures!