Wild Milwaukee: What Critters Do You See About?

Strutting his stuff, tom turkey in urban center got me to thinking about all the wildlife I'm either privileged to enjoy or challenged to contend with in Wauwatosa.


So, Thursday afternoon, I'm leaving Columbia-St. Mary's Hosptial on the east side of Milwaukee, heading down the winding Water Tower Road, and just below the crest of the bluff I have to stop for a jaywalking pedestrian.

He's taking his sweet time, strutting like a king, absolutely confident that he's he biggest, baddest boy on the block.

He acts like he's the mayor, so I decide to call him Tom Barrett (meaning no disrespect to the pugilistic city executive himself, just a play on words).

'Cuz he's a turkey. A tom turkey, judging by its size, its feathers and its beard. And by its attitude.

He was as cocky as a congressman.

Not only I but another oncoming motorist had to stop for the slow stroller. He wended his way between our bumpers as if he had all the time in the world. He appeared to know he was something to look at, and that our time, in comparison, meant nothing.

Though this happened far from Wauwatosa, metro-wise, it got me to thinking a few things maybe worth a few words.

One, does this guy have some idea that, if he doesn't get hit by a car, he's one of the safest turkeys in Wisconsin, with hunting season and Thanksgiving close upon him?

And two, just how much wildlife is moving back into metropolitan Milwaukee – or has managed to remain?

I've seen wild turkeys before on the County Grounds, and my neighbor across the street had one in his yard.

I saw pheasants in the Menomonee Valley back when it was a post-industrial wasteland, but not since.

In my own back yard, I've seen:

  • A 10-point white-tail buck
  • Does and fawns galore
  • (story and video from when Wauwatosa Patch was very new)
  • A den of coyotes
  • A scruffy, confused mink that I used to watch in better, sleeker form down by the river before he was evicted by the Hart Park flood management project
  • Woodchucks that honeycombed my hillside with groundhog condos
  • Raccoons – armies of raccoons
  • Opossums, legions of them
  • Barred owls, screech owls, great horned owls
  • Red-tailed, Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks – and even a goshawk
  • Indigo buntings that fought with chickadees (even though they had no reason to)
  • Wood ducks trying to raise a family (conquered by raccoon army)
  • Every other migratory bird in the book, at one time or another
  • The notorious Butler's garter snake
  • And many, many more...

We are lucky in Wauwatosa, if we love wildlife, to be beneficiaries of the vision of Charles Whitnall, the godfather of the , who left us with long, lovely green parkway corridors along our waterways, which are much enjoyed and employed to this day by the wild ones.

It's remarkable how much green space we have here in Wauwatosa, and how resilient and adaptive nature has been to our presence.

I'd like to read, in the comments section, what you've seen in Wild Wauwatosa, and if you've gotten pictures, upload them to the Pics and Clips section of Wauwatosa Patch and I'll share them.

jbw September 14, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Over here we see mostly squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks. The rabbits exploded in number following their successful nesting at Wisconsin Garden and Pet last year. I crossed paths with a possum last week. I see the ducks and geese with their young every year. Some house and field mice dig homes along the streets. There are lots of sparrows and goldfinches around all the time, and the falcons that nest over by the power plant, one of which almost collided with me one time while capturing a sparrow in midair. I've seen a lot of other things, like fox, toads, woodchuck but only very rarely. I've seen just about everything in the form of roadkill at one time or another as well, including rotten mangled corpses of deer, possum, squirrel, rabbit, cats, and various birds. Being on foot for these close-up encounters certainly desensitized me to gore quite a bit.
Christine McLaughlin September 15, 2012 at 01:10 PM
The turkeys are proliferating. Yesterday I saw some on 115th St. and others along Underwood Parkway. I wonder what pressures are making them move to the suburbs!


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