Hartford has more than pigeons and squirrels when it comes to wildlife, a fact that should not be surprising to anyone who has so much as looked at a map and seen that there are rivers and wooded areas in the city. Sure, you are much more likely to encounter a bear in West Hartford or Avon, but I am still holding out hope of seeing one in the backyard. In 2012, DEEP killed a black bear in Keney Park after it was spotted digging through trash. The bear’s offense was that it had previously charged someone on the other side of the state, was relocated, and seen in an area where it might be near people.
Here’s a look at where you are likely to see which critters:
With hundreds of acres of forest, it should be expected that deer and other animals would make their homes here.
Time it right and you can see deer along the paths and at the edge of the golf course. Just west of the golf course you can see beavers and what they’ve done to trees in a small pond.
There’s a chance of seeing wild turkeys and black bears here, along with songbirds. Bats, rabbits, chipmunks, coyotes, moles, mice, opossums, raccoons, shrews, skunks, squirrels, and a whole lot of birds and insects have been seen in the park.
Just over an invisible town line you will not have known you passed in the woods is Windsor’s Matianuck Sand Dunes Natural Area Preserve, home to big sand tiger beetle and ghost dune tiger beetle.
The horses at the stables on Vine Street are not wild, but they get a mention anyway for being horses in Hartford.
Birds. In and around the ponds you can see a lot of geese, ducks, yellow warblers, and red-winged blackbirds. Butterflies. This is right across from Cedar Hill Cemetery, but experiences louder, more active use from people.
Cedar Hill Cemetery
A large, quiet piece of land with trees and water? There will be animals. If you don’t actually see the deer, you will step over their droppings, especially in the older section of the cemetery. The first picture of this post was taken there in early June; the fawn’s mother was nearby. On a visit a few weeks ago, I spotted an entire family of deer, including the fawn.
On any given trip, it’s almost a given that you’ll see frogs and dragonflies in and around the ponds. Hawks make themselves known by screeching, or by the trail of feathers left behind from a kill.
There are reports of fox and coyote out here — again, not surprising when you realize how much natural space surrounds Cedar Hill Cemetery.
along the Park River
Deer, hawk, and turkey are common sights. I don’t know why anyone in the West End would have indoor/outdoor cats with the coyote that are also in the area. A number of people are convinced they’ve heard fishers around here, but nobody seems to have produced any definitive proof.
Ponds Near Mark Twain Drive
This counts as being along the Park River, but is separate enough to get its own category. These areas are along the northeastern side of Mark Twain Drive. You can spot turtles, egrets, Green heron, and beavers.
along Connecticut River
Hawk, woodchuck, and deer can be found in this area. Eagles have had nests in the North and South Meadows.
You are guaranteed chipmunk with every visit if you explore the Shade, Heritage Rose, or Herb Gardens.
There are ducks and geese galore in the ponds, with the occasional visit from a Great Blue Heron. Turtles can be spotted here too.
The heron gets a bit of attention at the pond, but you’re more likely to see ducks
and pigeons on any given day. A few turtles have been hanging out here lately.
Visit the Connecticut Science Center to see cockroaches, fish, spiders, turtles, snakes, and butterflies. Joseph Steward’s Museum of Natural and Other Oddities inside of the Old State House is where to find shells, and taxidermied/preserved birds, various reptiles, anything with antlers, and of course, our friend, the two-headed calf. The Wadsworth Atheneum is home to shells and preserved insects, plus the representation of animals in artwork. Both Little River Restoratives and McKinnons have a fair amount of taxidermy.
Where have you spotted wild animals in Hartford?