When one thinks of Memphis, Tennessee, images of vibrant music, mouthwatering barbecue, and historic landmarks often come to mind. However, hidden within this bustling city is a surprising array of wild animals that call Memphis their home. From the mighty Mississippi River to the surrounding parks and green spaces, Memphis provides a unique habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. In this article, we will delve into the wild side of Memphis, exploring some of the remarkable creatures that reside within the city.
1. The Mighty Mississippi and Aquatic Life
The Mississippi River, a defining feature of Memphis, serves as an important waterway and an ecosystem teeming with life. It provides a habitat for a variety of aquatic species, including fish, turtles, and water birds. Visitors to Memphis can witness the sight of graceful herons and cormorants gliding above the water’s surface, while lucky observers may even spot the occasional river otter or beaver navigating the riverbanks.
2. Winged Wonders in Overton Park
Overton Park, a 342-acre urban oasis in the heart of Memphis, is not only a haven for outdoor recreation but also a sanctuary for numerous bird species. Birdwatchers can spot a wide range of feathered friends, including colorful warblers, majestic hawks, and the iconic barred owl. Overton Park’s Old Forest Arboretum, a rare remnant of the region’s once-vast forested landscape, provides an ideal habitat for these avian residents.
Most Common Wildlife in Memphis
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are the most common large mammals in Memphis. They are herbivores, feeding on leaves, grass, and other vegetation. Deer are known for their graceful bounding movement and their white tail that flashes when they are alarmed. They can be seen in parks, green spaces, and even residential areas, especially during early morning and evening hours.
Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are highly adaptable and intelligent creatures. They have a distinctive black mask across their eyes and a ringed tail. Raccoons are omnivorous and will eat almost anything, including fruits, nuts, insects, small animals, and even garbage. They are known for their dexterity and can often be seen foraging for food near water sources or in urban areas.
Two common squirrel species found in Memphis are the Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and the Fox squirrel (Sciurus niger). Squirrels are agile climbers and their habit of storing nuts for winter. They have a varied diet, including nuts, seeds, berries, and even bird eggs. Squirrels are often seen scampering through trees or running across the ground in search of food.
Memphis is home to a diverse array of bird species. Commonly observed birds include the Northern cardinal, American robin, Blue jay, various species of sparrows, and migratory birds such as warblers during their seasonal journeys. The Mississippi River and the city’s parks provide an attractive habitat for both resident and migratory bird species, making Memphis a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts.
Coyotes (Canis latrans) are highly adaptable and can thrive in both rural and urban environments. They are typically nocturnal but may also be active during the day. Coyotes primarily feed on small mammals, such as rabbits and rodents, but they can also consume fruits, insects, and even carrion. They are known for their distinctive howls and yips, often heard at night.
Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are occasional visitors to Memphis, particularly in parks and green areas. They have reddish-brown fur, a bushy tail, and a pointed snout. Foxes are omnivorous and have a varied diet, including small mammals, birds, insects, fruits, and even garbage. They are agile hunters and can adapt well to urban environments.
While Memphis is popular for its cultural heritage, it also boasts an unexpectedly rich wildlife population. From the banks of the mighty Mississippi to the urban parks and green spaces, the city’s wildlife inhabitants continue to captivate residents and visitors alike. The coexistence of urban life and wildlife in Memphis serves as a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving and appreciating its natural heritage. So, the next time you find yourself in Memphis, take a moment to explore the wild side of this vibrant city and embrace the diverse array of animals that call it home.