The urbanCrittr Story

 

At Home In The City

She walks along the edge of the lakeside road seemingly carefree, casual in her stride. It is, however, very clear that she is aware of her surroundings. She appears to have little fear of strangers. I watched, fascinated.
For here, a diminutive red fox in the midst of a human community, not particularity concerned about their activities, was on her way to wherever she deemed necessary.
This was my first real appreciation of wildlife’s adaption to their urban habitat.
With this little red fox, I began my observations of the wildlife in my neighbourhood, and the complex interactions between all the urban critters.

 

At Play In The City

Nestled between the lake and the main highway corridor to the city centre is a former village, one of a number along the lakeshore, now amalgamated into the greater metropolitan area. I lived in this community for a number of years, walked along the lake, through the small groves of trees and across the “naturalized” lands adjacent to the lake.
The man-made lagoons that lead to the lake offer sanctuary to many water birds and rodents. Swans, ducks and geese were the most predominant of the larger birds. Every spring for a number of years, I’d walk to the water’s edge in one of the lagoons to get a close view of a huge white swan as she sat on her nest, no more that ten feet away, incubating her eggs. Later when the eggs became cygnets, I would watch them feed along the banks.

swan & cygnets

For me, one of the fascinating events of an animal’s early life is their tendency to “play”. On a bright spring day, I saw a small squirrel playing with a branch in the backyard. He returned for a number of days to continue jumping and gnawing on that crooked little tree branch.

squirrel at play

Of course, experts would define this “play” as training or some other elemental animal expression, and that, not doubt is true. But to me, the joy he seemed to exhibit was carefree and abandoned. He had no fear of his surroundings, he was at home in this city enclave. He was truly an urban critter.

 

At Life In The City

Springtime in the city -mulching old leaves, turning dirt, clearing sticks and stones. All in preparation for the planting season, soon to begin. The sprinkler splatters water rain-like across the garden. Perched on the wooden fence on the other side of the yard, eagerly awaiting the opportunity, the red-red robin bobs and bounces. He then leaps into the air gliding to the turned soil in front of me. Less than a metre away, he eyes the ground for tell-tales signs of a tasty meal of earthworm. This little robin has grown accustomed to city life and its abundance.

robin

It’s an early mid-summer morning, and we are well into the 21st century. Seated along a railing, in a small urban garden are two baby blue jays. Squawking as any baby would, for attention, ultimately, for food. Nearby the parent watches, swooping in now and then to assure protection, comfort and food. These two little birds wander freely through the garden, this is their world, an urban wilderness they have adapted to quickly and comfortably.

baby blue jays asleep

Living close to a major city park has brought a variety of birdlife to my garden. Birds of prey are even occasional visitors. The bird feeder attracts the birds, the smaller birds and pigeons attract birds of prey. There are meals for everyone. The hawk is now accustomed to swooping in to grab a pigeon or sparrow, and devour it, conveniently, in the backyard.

sharp-shinned hawk on pergola, city street

The young raccoon was out wandering mid-afternoon on a bright summer day. I watched as it calmly walked along the pathway, hopped up onto the gate and wriggled down the other side to go on his merry way.
We have built our cities for humans, but for good or ill, wildlife of all types have claimed their place along side us.

raccoon

 

andrew c brown profile

 

andrew c brown

When I first walked into the small commercial revision and distribution company in downtown Toronto little did I think where my career was about to lead.

Since those initial days of screening and packaging 16mm film commercials for distribution to television stations across the country, I’ve edited, produced and directed a growing variety of productions in television, nationally broadcast commercials, music videos, corporate, non-profit, documentary, and even, early in my career, a small role in the post-production of a feature film.

I have received awards of recognition including two Geminis, a Telly for directing a children’s television short-program series. As well as various acknowledgments for post-production on corporate projects including the Film & TV Festival of New York, Worldfest Houston, and ITVA Video Festival Canada.

In 2008, I decided to offer my video expertise, once annually, to a non-profit organization. I have been fortunate and successful, and helping non-profit organizations in the current difficult economic climate is not only enjoyable but, I think, a worthy concept.

My first production, completed in 2008, was for the Tumaini Children’s Project, an international youth-focused, non-profit organization that partners with orphaned children and youth who are personally affected by HIV/AIDS to assist them in developing and implementing income generating solutions.

Since then I have worked on projects for The Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere (F.A.M.E.), The Swap Team – Toronto, The ART TOUR Collective in Toronto, West Toronto and Junction Historical Society, and most recently, 2017, Art For Cancer Foundation.

Currently, I am producing and directing historical documentaries and short-format Video Portraits.