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The Boston Globe

Magazine

8 great spots for urban birding in Boston and beyond

Grab your jacket and your binoculars. Even as temperatures drop, cities are rife with great spots to see some fascinating avian species.

A FRIEND LIVES IN ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, not far from Mass. Ave., in a house on a hill, with large oaks and hemlocks in the backyard and shrubs in the front yard. His neighborhood attracts songbirds  and gray squirrels, including a few albinos. The birds and squirrels support a family of red-tailed hawks that sling their voices down a canyon of houses reminiscent of a Hollywood movie set.

One morning last summer, a red-tail flew past Joe’s porch, a struggling crow in its talons. And an adult hawk was once spotted eviscerating a squirrel on the top of a telephone pole across the street. On a nearby rooftop, hungry fledglings stained the shingles like so many zebra stripes. Joe’s neighborhood is by no means unique. Birds are everywhere in and around Boston . . . everywhere. And they impart a sense of wonder to the urban landscape, a sense more often associated with remote North America. They’re plentiful in winter, too, the prime time to see otherwise elusive northern birds like Arctic-breeding owls and winter finches.

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