Due to its proximity to Rock Creek Park, the Chesapeake Bay and the Anacostia and Potomac
Rivers, Washington, D.C. is home to a diverse population of animal and plant life. 240 species of birds, 29 mammals, 21 reptiles, 19 amphibians, and 78 species of fish can be found in the D.C. Metro Area. Many of these animals such as Eastern Gray Squirrels, Blue Jays, and Robins live here year round. Others such as Great Blue Herons, Wood Thrush and many species of Warblers are seasonal and migrate during the spring and fall.
Regardless whether they are here to stay or just passing through, all the animals that come through D.C. have a role to play. They are instrumental in keeping our forests healthy, our city green, and our streets clean.
Eastern Grey Squirrels, for example, collect and cache seeds all around the city and in the parks. They often forget where they have hidden them and consequently are responsible for planting many new trees.
Blue Jays, like Eastern Grey Squirrels, function as seed dispensers, collecting acorns and nuts and often fly great distances to hide them. Other songbirds such as Robins, Northern Cardinals, and Wood Thrushes consume berries and fruit and then disperse the seeds in their droppings. Bald Eagles along with other raptors and birds of prey help keep rodent, fish, and reptile populations down to a safe level. Big Brown Bats, Chimney Swifts, and other flycatcher and insectivore species of birds consume many insect pests.
Virginia Opossums are opportunistic omnivores that will literally eat anything they come across including trash. They, along with Raccoons, help keep our city streets and alleyways clean. Raccoons, Red Foxes, and Black Rat Snakes eat rats, mice and other rodent pests.
Groundhogs, who often get a bad reputation for digging up people’s gardens, are actually very beneficial. Their droppings are a powerful fertilizer and the digging aerates and churns the soil.
A healthy ecosystem needs to have a great diversity of plant, insect, and animal life and in D.C. we are lucky to have all of these things. Take a look at the gallery on the Rehab Center page to see some of the animals we work with and follow our Facebook Page and blog to stay updated about animals in our area and environmental issues worldwide.