“Watching Wildlife From My Urban Office Window,” an Editorial

I have the very best view from my 12th floor, Downtown Portland office window. Ok, honestly, the landscape outside my window is pretty typical for an urban setting: a few buildings, a tree or two, and if I squint really hard with my glasses on I can see I tiny bit of the Willamette River.

What makes my view spectacular is that for some reason my office window is an awesome place for viewing urban wildlife – specifically, urban birds.


It all started with the usual suspects: a pigeon flyby, some gulls off in the distance, or the occasional sparrow on the windowsill. Nothing really out of the ordinary for an urban area, and certainly nothing that would earn my window the title of “awesome urban wildlife viewing” spot.

However, in the last year the birds started showing up in droves and I have had a front row seat to a couple of pretty dramatic scenes.

Act 1:

It was a dreary day, so I was only half surprised when I started to see snowflakes drifting past my office window. But these flakes were a little out of the ordinary; they were really large, too large, in fact.

“Wait, are those feathers?” I asked myself, “Is it snowing feathers?”

Immediately I got up from my desk to investigate this odd form of precipitation further, and quickly noticed that there was a red tailed hawk perched on the roof of the building across the street, sitting down to a very feathery avian lunch (maybe one of those pigeons I saw earlier?). The storm of feathers continued for some time, and when the hawk was finished I assumed that would be the last time I saw any dramatic urban wildlife action from my window, but it was just the beginning…


Act 2:

Another red-tailed hawk appeared in the late fall, this time on a ledge of the building across the street with a less feathery lunch (a rodent, perhaps?) but still eating with enough movement and gusto for me to notice it in my peripheral vision through the window.

Moments after I stood up to catch a better look, a second larger red-tailed hawk soars in and calling through the buildings landed on the roof across the street from the first lunching hawk. A stare off immediately ensued between the two hawks. Eventually, the first hawk lost interest in the staring contest and starts eating again. The second hawk, surely feeling ignored, flew away.

At this point, all seemed right in the avian world, so I decided to stop watching birds and get back to work. But then, out of nowhere, hawk number two flew in on stealth mode and sneakily stole the rodent lunch from hawk number one. Hawk number one stared off in the distance, dejected, and my co-workers began wondering about my sanity as exclamations of surprise resonated from my office.

Since those first awesome urban nature shows the hawks have come back yet again (and have proceeded to bully each other over lunch, again), but I also have seen hundreds, yes hundreds, of crows flying in for a landing right outside my window (very reminiscent of a certain Alfred Hitchcock film, or perhaps, the flying monkey scene from Wizard of Oz). Recently, I even got a super close glimpse of a pair of flying swans!

I always expect to see wildlife while I am working on one of Wildlands’ restoration projects, but I am surprised and amazed at their frequent appearance outside of my Wildlands’ urban office window. My co-workers might see a raptor fly by every now and then from their office windows, but Mother Nature really shows her stuff in front of mine.

I really do have the very best view from my 12th floor, Downtown Portland office window.