Miguel del Pino: Neighbors animals

In one of the cold mornings of the recent end of autumn in the guise of winter that we have just to endure, in the garden of the Park of Rome next to our writing, a blackbird looks at me with impudence, and one for a breakfast five red berries of an ornamental shrub: get well energy to get through the day and gives me the image of christmas with the I want to congratulate, with my best wishes, to all the readers of our digital pages.

Makes already quite a few years ago, a Spanish naturalist Luis Miguel Dominguez, a disciple of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and good friend, who I know from their enthusiastic children, a passionate lover of nature, surprised everyone with a brilliant program on television titled Fauna street; many citizens learned that the hawks bred in the tallest buildings of Madrid, the Parks, and also the trees of the city are home to an incredible diversity of bird fauna.

Viewers discovered that it is not surprising to find a seagull in Madrid because there are hundreds of people, the rats still forming true communities of nocturnal bandits and the feral cats are so well-adapted to the nocturnal setting of the city, with its cubes of trash included, such as tigers to the sugar cane field in the jungle or the lion on the steppe.

When we we titled concrete Jungle, our agenda of the weekend in esRadio what we think also of the great urban biodiversity. In particular such a holder happened to me when I met a dear alumnus, today brilliant researcher in Botany, Dr. Alejandro Quintanar, examining in the middle of the street a hierbecilla that peeked between two tiles, and that, as he told me, excited, he belonged to a rare species.

In recent years the fauna street has evolved significantly. The most striking aspect of these successions of species is the proliferation of colonies of parrots, argentinian and Kramer, the prototype of the problem of invasive species, which came to the city for neglect and that no one could imagine them to stay.

Have also settled some species of birds of prey , notably the common kestrel, which has been spreading way centripetal, from the field to the so-called cities bedroom, and grow it towards the city central, reaching out to merge with it, spread the small raptors up to be unexpectedly abundant.

I confess that at the beginning of this phenomenon I could hardly believe the listeners who called our office to tell us about tremendous attacks of “small hawks”, they used to say, against the canaries that were taken out of their windows to give them a splash of sunshine and delight with his singing, but there was no choice but end up advised to not take outside the domestic birds to avoid this danger.

Spoke to the writer madrileñista Antonio Díaz Cañabate of the “Madrid of the canaries and geraniums in the windows”, that was it for the traditional “Cane” paradigm of the joy in the city. Today we have to keep well to the canaries “balconeros” and resign ourselves to the loss of the geraniums year after year when they are discovered and attacked by the butterfly of exotic and invasive Cacyreus marshali, who arrived from Australia and not found by these latitudes just natural enemies.

But the city without canaries and without geraniums is compensated for by the arrival of new citizens, both botanical as zoological: if the geranium has gone from a perennial plant to plant, season, other vegetables, flower have replaced so startling and so there are rose bushes that mimic flowering, begonias, and azaleas re-flowering, and a wide variety of plants, garden and terrace, less traditional and well-known, are common in balconies and gardens.

For the fanatical defenders of the native will tell you that the family geraniums are actually pelargonios: are not characteristic of our flora, but they come from south Africa, although no one would dare at this point to deny them their citizenship and even their acquired purity.

Returning to the fauna street from our good friend Luis Miguel, in recent years, there has been a real revolution, with the loss of some species, once very familiar, and acquisition of other that until a few years ago were very rare in the city. Who could have imagined just two decades ago that we would be out of sparrows in the urban environment?

The worst thing is that they are not clear completely the causes of this decline in the city of the bird, urbanite at the global level, the Passer domesticus or house sparrow common. The modern architecture can offer less shelter for nesting, which was formerly in cornices and roofs, but does not seem to be the determining cause. In our cities, the competition with the parrots released in the urban environment can be the bottom of the mystery.

Small finches, like goldfinches and verdecillos are, on the contrary, becoming more and more frequent in the urban forest, where plant already in the usual way: it seems that the pressure of the predatory urban will pushing it to the very heart of the city, where until a few years ago were uncommon.

In short, the urban birds have evolved a lot in recent years: some, like the blackbird who we found having breakfast at the beginning of this reflection are becoming more and more frequent, while others such as the sparrow, who would have thought, are in sharp decline.

Few things are more sad to the naturalist than it is to imagine a city without birds, but fortunately they are pretty numerous species of birds that we give with your company, and some, like the birds, insectivores, will be, when summer comes, real brigades of cleaning. Now, in the middle of winter, let’s hear the blackbird with which we opened this comment and it illustrates for us our christmas greetings to the readers.

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