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From the Publisher
Shortlisted for the City of Toronto Book Award
“City dwellers,” writes Wayne Grady, “are conditioned to look for ‘Nature’ outside the city: at the cottage, at summer camp, up north. Somewhere else.” These, he maintains, are not the only places to look. Nature lush, untamed, and fertile is thriving right where we are: in the not completely concrete jungles of our urban core.
As Grady convincingly demonstrates, the city is a natural ecosystem unto itself. It nourishes thousands of species of native flora and fauna, welcomes hundreds of others that have immigrated and adapted, and provides still others with the only environment that will ensure their survival. This is true for any city, but especially so in Toronto, home to 40,000 raccoons, the world’s largest colony of ring-billed gulls, and probably more termites per cubic metre of wood than anywhere on Earth. Indeed, there is more wildlife in Toronto today than in the last century: brown bats wouldn’t winter in town if city homes didn’t offer attics for their use; cockroaches wouldn’t have spread this far north if we hadn’t invented central heating; a single vacant lot in the Annex was recently found to contain 32 species of wildflowers. And there are coyote dens in the Don River Valley.
In fourteen engaging essays, Grady introduces us to these and other natural wonders of Toronto, from snakes and mosquitoes to black squirrels and house sparrows. Following in the tracks of urban naturalists before him - Catherine Parr Traill, Ernest Thompson Seton, Anna Jameson and Fred Bodsworth - and effortlessly blending science, history, and literature, Grady writes wittily and gracefully about the evolution, eating habits, mating rituals and turf wars of your most common - and wild - city neighbours.