5 Incredible Wildlife Encounters that You Can Have in NYC

You don't need to go to the zoo to get a taste of nature in New York City.

New York City Isn't generally thought of as a hub for nature lovers.

With more than 8 million people crammed into 300 square miles of concrete, asphalt, and steel, there isn't a whole lot of room left for the natural world. Sure, there are some nice manicured green spaces, and you can always make a trip to the Bronx Zoo or the New York Aquarium if you want to see some nature in captivity, but apart from the pigeons, rats, cockroaches, and maybe some aggressive squirrels, you don't necessarily expect to see a lot of wildlife thriving in the big apple.

But as Jeff Goldblum so wisely put it in Jurassic Park, "Life, uh, finds a way," and that's exactly what tons of amazing creatures have done in NYC. From coyotes to opossums to white tail deer and three different species of bat, there are way too many wild animals finding ways to thrive in New York to list them all here, but these five offer some of the most amazing spectacles that locals and tourists are likely to see.

Peregrine Falcons Hunting

The peregrine falcon is widely known as the fastest animal on earth. But that title is a bit of a misnomer, since the peregrine falcon is only the fastest when its plunging through the air. In nature, peregrine falcons would usually nest on cliff sides and use that vantage point to launch into high-speed dives to pluck seabirds from the air. But in New York city, skyscrapers provide the same high ground for hunting a seemingly endless food source—pigeons.

In fact, the man-made cliffs and the abundant flying pests of new York City make such an ideal habitat that NYC is now home to likely the largest urban populations of peregrine falcons on earth, and if you're lucky, you might just get the chance to see one hunting. Not much larger than pigeons themselves, they use their tremendous speed—in excess of 200 mph—to dive on their prey and intercept them mid-flight. And if you do get a chance to see such a spectacular sight, don't forget to cheer them on.

Snapping Turtles Snapping

There are a surprising variety of turtles living in the ponds of Central Park. At least 12 different species have been identified breeding and thriving, despite many originating from different habitats. A lot of these turtles are descendants of abandoned pets, but the common snapping turtle is a true local to the region, and also the biggest of the bunch.

Commonly growing to over 30 pounds, the common snapping turtle—or Chelydra Serpentina—has been known to reach weights of 75 pounds in the wild. With massive jaws on snakelike necks, and leathery flesh marked with armored spikes, they look more like prehistoric monsters than the turtle your weird friend had as a pet growing up. Somehow that doesn't stop brave (stupid) tourists from sticking out their hands to feed them, but you should probably avoid that yourself if you want to keep your fingers intact.

Monk Parakeets Making Themselves at Home

The Monk Parakeet is not a native New Yorker, but rather an immigrant success story. Originally found in the temperate and subtropical regions of South America, legend has it that a group of Monk Parakeets escaped from a crate at JFK in the 1960s, and made their way to the Midwood area of Brooklyn, where they've been thriving ever since.

Their plump plumage and the huge enclosed nests they build in Brooklyn trees help them survive when the weather turns cold, and in the spring and summer the neighborhood is criss-crossed by streaks of dazzling green swooping from tree to tree.

Leopard Slugs Mating

While not quite as impressive as the banana slugs of the Pacific Northwest, New York's leopard slugs may shock you the first time you encounter one full grown. Growing up to eight inches long, they have a distinct spotted pattern that helps them blend in with tree bark, or with the sidewalk. Another invasive species, the leopard slugs are not quite as welcome an addition to the city as the parakeets—particularly if you've ever accidentally stepped on one after a rainy day.

They're not generally thought of as beautiful creatures, but that's because most people have never seen their incredible mating process. A slug will pick up on pheremones in another slugs slime trail, indicating that it's ready to mate. The slug will follow the trail until it catches up, and the two will climb a tree, then dangle together from a branch, slowly spinning on a sticky slime thread, exposing their enormous, fluorescent blue genitalia, and wrapping them around each other in a floral spiral. It is one of the most surreal sights in the animal kingdom, and if you're lucky, you might just see it happen in New York City.

Humpback Whales Breaching

Thanks to conservation and cleanup efforts, the waters around New York City are not the toxic sludge they once were. There's still a long way to go, but already local marine life has been making a comeback. Along with the fish, clams, and the Staten Island Harbor Seals whose populations have been surging, this environmental progress has attracted some impressive visitors to New York City's waters.

What used to be an almost unheard of sight has become increasingly common in recent years, with whales including massive humpbacks swimming up the Hudson River to feed, and putting on spectacular shows for anyone lucky enough to see them breach.

So, if you're a nature lover in New York City, don't let the concrete get you down. There's plenty of amazing wildlife thriving even in the center of urban life.

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What's Up with All These Fireworks?

New Yorkers have been hearing constant explosions throughout the night. Is it a conspiracy?

If you live in a large metropolitan area like New York City, Black Lives Matter protests likely aren't the only things you hear making noise in the streets.

In the past couple of weeks, as Black Lives Matter supporters march in memory of George Floyd and countless other Black people killed by police, the sounds of fireworks can be heard virtually every weekend. More than just your average Fourth of July shindig, these explosions often trail into the wee hours of the morning.


According to Gothamist, there were 6,385 total "311" complaints about fireworks in New York City from June 1 to June 19—up from 27 during the same time period last year. "This is not the simple firecrackers and little small toy-type rockets, but it was very elaborate," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told Gothamist. "That in itself is raising a high level of concern with me... When you see the large displays along Brooklyn and in Manhattan, Upper Manhattan, you're seeing extremely sophisticated type fireworks displays that can be extremely dangerous in the hands of the wrong people."

Anything more powerful than a sparkler is illegal in New York, but that hasn't stopped regular folks from buying the type of fireworks you'd see in a professional display. But who is buying these fireworks, and what are they trying to accomplish? There are some wild theories.

NYPD, FDNY appear to let illegal fireworks show play out, video shows

NYPD, FDNY appear to let illegal fireworks show play out, video shows nypost.com

As author Robert Jones, Jr. pointed out in a lengthy Twitter thread, antics by "bored Black and brown kids" tends to be the general assumption made by most mainstream media. "My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement," Jones wrote.

One goal Jones proposed was that white people were the ones setting off the constant fireworks in an attempt to "stoke tensions between Black and Brown peoples." Many have voiced their frustrations online about the sheer volume of the fireworks they hear, and a shared annoyance is growing.

Another motive Jones proposed was that the fireworks are being used as a desensitization method to acclimate citizens to the sounds of the blasts—which often sound like gunshots. "When they start using their real artillery on us we won't know the difference," Jones wrote. "It's meant to sound like a war zone because a war zone is what it's about to become."

Police don't seem too concerned. The New York Post shared a video this week of fireworks being set off behind an NYPD precinct in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. No officers appear to deter them. A similar video in Harlem, Manhattan also shows a flock of police cars—none of which seem to mind the explosions.


Another video shows what appears to be Brooklyn firefighters setting off fireworks:

Video shows FDNY firefighters light off illegal fireworks in Brooklyn

Video shows FDNY firefighters light off illegal fireworks in Brooklyn nypost.com


Today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was forming a task force to combat the illegal fireworks. "Illegal fireworks are both dangerous and a public nuisance," he said. "We're cracking down on this activity at the source to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and the ability of our neighbors to get some sleep."


But if over 6,000 complaints have been made about fireworks to seemingly no avail, it seems a task force won't merit much of an improvement.

Many seem to agree with the theory that inconspicuous government officials have been offering fireworks to Black children, newly on summer vacation and hungry for ways to ease their quarantine boredom. As with many issues going on in America, these constant fireworks will probably be just another way for the government to further discriminate against marginalized groups.

At least we can always rely on memes to spread the good word.

I don't know about you guys, but working from home has taken a serious toll on me. It started off really well. I was sticking to my usual routine as much as possible, but I've been slowly becoming less and less productive.

I noticed my sleep schedule had completely changed. I was rolling out of bed a few minutes before I was due to start work, and sometimes even working from my bed. I ate lunch at the desk and worked straight through my scheduled breaks. I was sleepier throughout the day, unable to focus as much, and just feeling less motivated overall.

So I looked into what I could do that would help me out of my slump. I tried a few things. Some were so simple I never thought they'd make much of a difference, and some I wouldn't have thought of at all, but now I'm back feeling more productive than ever.

Here are my three tips for working from home:

1. Get up early

Yes, it seems so simple. But it's super important to stick to a normal routine if you can. Not only do I get up early, but I shower every morning and cook myself a nutritious breakfast before I start work. This definitely helped me feel more energized and motivated throughout the day.

2. Have a designated workspace

This is important because it separates your work from your home. Our homes are associated with relaxing, so designating a space that will be used only for work will help you concentrate on work while you're in that space. I also found that doing this helped me actually take appropriate breaks. When I left the space I was in relax mode, and once I came back, I was ready to work again.

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3. CBD supplements

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The elixirs are powders that you can mix into any beverage. The Prima Trifecta has a few samples of all three. The Brain Fuel elixir is to be taken in the morning, so I mixed it into my coffee, and I was awake and alert and able to throw myself into my working day.

Their Go-To elixir should be taken around noon. My daily midday productivity crash had gotten so much worse while working at home, but taking this elixir helped keep me sharp through the remainder of my work day.

The Rest Easy elixir is taken at night to help you get a good sleep. Since I started taking this my sleep schedule has greatly improved. It was so much easier to get up early again. It left me feeling well rested and ready to start my day.

I never realized how much simple things, like setting out a specific workspace, and getting up early would help me escape my unproductive rut. I wasn't expecting Prima's CBD supplements to help as much as they did, but they definitely had the biggest impact for me.

After trying the Prima Trifecta, I ended up buying the full size of all three elixirs. If you're having problems with sleep, focus, and productivity like I was, I'd recommend ordering the Prima Trifecta.

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Everyone knows that working out in ratty clothing isn't very motivating.

Studies have shown that the right workout gear drastically determines how hard we push ourselves on cardio or at the gym. But high-end fashion clothes are never high on our shopping list, and a well-fitted pair of spandex can run up a hefty price tag. But as quarantine has forced us all to reevaluate our workout routine, workout clothes matter now more than ever.

But instead of blowing the big bucks on white-owned brands like Under Armour, we should use this time as an opportunity–while BLM protests happen across the country–to put our money towards black businesses as much as we can. This, of course, includes workout clothes. So here are some reliable Black-owned brands that are high quality and won't break your bank.

Yema

Yema

Founded in 2016, Yema Khalif and his wife, Hawi Awash, opened this fitness brand to help educate and feed the latter's home country of Ethiopia. All proceeds go towards helping to educate and feed at risk children in Ethiopia, and their fitness offerings are all beautiful and hand-made.

Culture Fit​

Culture Fit

Designed specifically for black women, Culture Fit's sleek design and well-ventilated workout gear is worth the money. Designed by women of color, each matching pair of active wear also can include a matching yoga mat, so you can really be looking your best when you hit your zoom yoga class!

Vero Mastodon

vero mastodon

Made popular by men and women who served in the military, Vero Mastodon offers breathable, flexible fitness clothes for all the heavy lifters out there. Their exclusive app also offers training programs by certified trainers and power lifters to help you get shredded and transformed.

Pru Apparel

Pru Apparel

Focused on its message of community and pride, Pru Apparel is for every type of woman. Inspired by Africa's culture and rich history, the breathable clothing sets feature Kente cloth and come in a wide array of sizes. Not to mention, the prints are super trendy.

Glamourina​​

GlMOURINA

This gorgeous activewear was born for the culturally conscious. Made for women of all skin tones and shapes, the workout gear was designed for the sole purpose of empowering and motivating. Their high-waisted spandex and quality mesh provide a collection of breathable fabrics that move however you do.