An unfocused but mildly entertaining introduction to our nonhuman neighbors and housemates.
Expanding his definition of “urban animals” to include butterflies, zebra mussels, cougars and even certain kinds of whales, Read presents quick tallies of creatures who have proven adaptable enough to thrive, or at least survive, in or near towns and cities. They do so largely, he claims, because we destroy their natural habitats and also, deliberately or otherwise, feed them. He seems fonder of colorful figures of speech than strict accuracy—deer in Boston are hardly “as common as dandelions,” and conversely many might wish that city pigeons were only “as common as McDonald’s outlets.” Nevertheless, he presents a reasonably extensive menagerie of mammals, birds, reptiles and “creepy crawlies” that urban or suburban U.S. and Canadian readers are more than likely to encounter. Aside from one scene of falcons chowing down on a pigeon, the mix of close-up and mid-distance color photos on every spread present their subjects in fetching poses. A discourse on invasive species and a closing appeal to conserve wild spaces are tangential but not entirely foreign to his main subject.
Not so much a systematic identification guide as a broad, engagingly informal reminder that we are sharing our immediate surroundings, as well as our world in general, with others. (index, glossary, online resources) (Nonfiction. 11-13)