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.