Archive for the 'Books & Events' Category

May 23 2016

Yesterday’s Outing at Schenley Park

Schenley Park outing near the Westinghouse Fountain, 22 May 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Schenley Park outing near the Westinghouse Fountain, 22 May 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Yesterday morning, twelve of us braved the foggy chill to look for birds near the Westinghouse Fountain at Schenley Park.

My original plan was to walk on the Steve Falloon Trail but it was a sea of mud after so much rain.  Instead we walked along the Serpentine Road with a good view of the treetops.

The birds weren’t particularly active so we were happy to see these Best Birds:  blackpoll warblers, chestnut-sided warblers, an eastern wood-pewee, scarlet tanagers and Baltimore orioles.  We also saw a half-completed Baltimore oriole nest hanging from a branch high above the road.

At the end of the walk we stopped near the Schenley Park Visitors Center and on Flagstaff Hill to see two peregrine falcons (flying and perched at the Cathedral of Learning), a red-tailed hawk, and a Coopers hawk.

Thanks, everyone, for coming out on a gray day.

 

(photo by Kate St.John)

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May 16 2016

Jungle Animal Hospital, PBS NATURE May 18

Published by under Books & Events

There’s a hospital in the Guatemalan jungle that’s saving lives every day.  It’s operating at capacity with over 700 boarders yet it tries not to turn anyone away.  The hospital is ARCAS.  Their patients are injured and orphaned jungle animals, often harmed by the illegal pet trade.

In PBS NATURE’s season finale, Jungle Animal Hospital shows the daily challenges faced by ARCAS staff as they heal the animals and prepare them for release in the wild.  Every release is a celebration.

Some animals are so rare that each life represents a significant portion of the population.   Such is the case with the scarlet macaws.

Scarlet macaw (photo by Alejandro Morales courtesy PBS NATURE)

Scarlet macaw (photo by Alejandro Morales courtesy PBS NATURE)

There are only 300 of these scarlet macaws left in the wild so ARCAS has developed a captive breeding program, similar in concept to North America’s peregrine recovery program two decades ago.  The difference is that scarlet macaws are social animals so they must be reared and released in a flock with their friends.

Watch at the end of the show as ARCAS releases nine scarlet macaws into the jungle — 5% of the wild population — a moment so moving it brought tears to my eyes.

Don’t miss PBS NATURE’s season finale Jungle Animal Hospital this Wednesday May 18 at 8pm EDT/ 9pm CDT on PBS. In Pittsburgh it’s on WQED.

 

(photo of scarlet macaw at ARCAS by Alejandro Morales courtesy PBS NATURE)

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May 09 2016

Nature’s Perfect Partners: PBS NATURE May 11

Barbell fish clean hippo's skin and teeth (photo courtesy PBS Nature © Mark Deeble/Vicky Stone)

Barbell fish clean hippo’s skin and teeth (photo courtesy PBS Nature © Mark Deeble/Vicky Stone)

Oh my!  Is the hippo eating these fish?!?

No. He could eat them if he wanted to but these barbell fish are his helpers.  They eat ticks from his skin and food from his teeth.  It’s a symbiotic relationship.

The hippo and the barbell fish are just one example of the unlikely partnerships animals make with other species.  Watch the premiere of Nature’s Perfect Partners on Wednesday May 11 to learn about many more — lizards with lions, a fish with a blind shrimp, toads with tarantulas.

Here’s a preview:

Don’t miss Nature’s Perfect Partners this Wednesday May 11 at 8pm EDT/ 9pm CDT on PBS.  In Pittsburgh it’s on WQED.

 

(photo courtesy PBS NATURE © Mark Deeble/Vicky Stone)

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May 02 2016

Tired of Tires in the Woods

Tires in the woods, western PA (photos by Kate St. John)

Tires in the woods, western PA (photos by Kate St. John)

There are tires in the woods nearly everywhere in western Pennsylvania.  Singles, pairs and piles of tires.  Tires rolled down the hillsides into the hollows. Tires dumped on top of trash.  Tires too heavy to lift, left by the side of the road.

I’d say this is a uniquely Appalachian problem but it happens across the U.S.  Dumping tires is illegal but people do it because they think it’s expensive to dispose of them properly.  In fact it’s cheap — about $2 per passenger tire in PA — and it’s easy to find a disposal place that’s probably closer than the illegal dump site.  Just type in your zip code at the Earth911 website.

Waste tires are ugly breeding grounds for mosquitoes.  They leach toxins into soil and water and when they start to burn they’re hard to stop.

Now that the woods are greening up the tires will be harder to see, but they’re still there.

You can do something about it.  Join a local cleanup.  See the links on this Pennsylvania map.

In Pittsburgh this Friday May 6, come down to Duck Hollow for the Tireless Cleanup, 5:00-7:30pm. Here’s what NMRWA removed during the 2014 cleanup:

Nine Mile Run Tireless Cleanup at Duck Hollow, August 2014 (photo from Nine Mile Run Watershed)

Nine Mile Run Tireless Cleanup at Duck Hollow, August 2014 (photo from Nine Mile Run Watershed)

Tireless Cleanup at Duck Hollow

 

 

(photos at top by Kate St. John, photo of a tile pile at Duck Hollow by Nine Mile Run Watershed Association)

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May 01 2016

Let’s Get Outdoors in May

Golden ragwort (photo by Kate St. John)

Golden ragwort (photo by Kate St. John)

Oh my!  It’s May!

Last month I listed outings for the last week of April and included May 1.  Here’s a big list for the month of May.

Everyone is welcome to participate in these outings. Click on the links for directions, meeting places, what to bring, and phone numbers for the leaders.

2016: Date/Time Focus Location Leader & Link to more info
Sun. May 1, 8:00am All Day! Birds & Flowers Enlow Fork Extravaganza, Washington/Greene Counties Wheeling Creek Watershed Conservancy / BotSocWPA / Ralph Bell Bird Club
Wed. May 4, 8:00am Birds Linbrook Woodlands, Allegheny County Karyn Delaney & Bob Van Newkirk, 3RBC
Fri. May 6, 7:30am Birds Sewickley Park, Allegheny County Sheree Daugherty,  3RBC / Fern Hollow Nature Center
Sat. May 7, 10:00am Flowers Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve, Beaver County Dianne Machesney, BotSocWPA
Sat. May 14, 7:30am Birds Barking Slopes, Allegheny County Todd Hooe, 3RBC Outing is limited to 12 people. See 3RBC link to reserve.
Sat. May 14, 10:00am – 3:00pm Flowers Mountain Maryland Native Plant Festival, New Germany State Park, Garrett County, MD see BotSocWPA website for info
Sat. May 14, 1:00pm Flowers Oil Creek State Park, Venango County Robert Coxe, BotSocWPA
Sun. May 15, time to be announced Flowers Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Allegheny County BotSocWPA
Sun. May 15, 8:00am Birds Barking Slopes, Allegheny County Todd Hooe, 3RBC Outing is limited to 12 people. See 3RBC link to reserve.
Sat. May 21, 8:00am Birds Harrison Hills, Allegheny County Jim Valimont, 3RBC
Sat. May 21, 8:00am Birds Presque Isle State Park, Erie County Bob Van Newkirk, 3RBC
Sat. May 21, 10:00am Flowers Moraine State Park, Butler County see BotSocWPA website
Sun. May 22, 8:00am Birds Frick Park, Pittsburgh Aidan Place, 3RBC
Sun. May 22, 8:30am Birds & Flowers Schenley Park, Pittsburgh Kate St. John, Outside My Window

 

Don’t miss May’s excitement.

Let’s get outdoors!

 

(photo of golden ragwort by Kate St. John)

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Apr 25 2016

Sunday’s Outing in Schenley Park

Outing in Schenley Park, 24 April 2016 (photo by Nancy Hart)

Outing in Schenley Park, 24 April 2016 (photo by Nancy Hart)

The weather was sunny yesterday morning as 19 of us explored Schenley Park.

The City is warmer than the surrounding countryside so most of Schenley’s wildflowers are past their peak.  However spring migration brought a whole new set of birds to the park.  The juncoes are gone. Yellow-rumped warblers are here.

We didn’t count a lot of individual birds but we saw and heard some really good ones.  Best Birds were three First of Year species:  a green heron, the sound of a wood thrush that we couldn’t find, and a rose-breasted grosbeak.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (photo by Chuck Tague)

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (photo by Chuck Tague)

The grosbeak is early but Schenley’s oaks are ready for him(*).  They’re already flowering and leafing out ahead of schedule.

Northern rough-winged swallows courted over the lake and a northern flicker called from a superb nest hole with a shelf-mushroom roof.  (I still don’t know what the flicker’s panting-in-hole dance meant.)

A few of us prolonged the tour with a view of the red-tailed hawks’ nest on Flagstaff Hill.  Here‘s a complete list of birds seen/heard via eBird.

My next Schenley Park outing will be Sunday May 22.  Hope to see you then.

 

(outing photo by Nancy Hart; rose-breasted grosbeak by Chuck Tague))

(*) Rose-breasted grosbeaks move north as the oaks bloom.  Yesterday’s bird passed a lot of leafless territory to stop in the City’s heat island.

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Apr 23 2016

Why I’m Addicted to Nestcams …

The last nestling at Pitt in 2009, just before she fledged, 4 June 2009 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

The last nestling at Pitt on June 4, 2009, just before she fledged (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

In case you missed it yesterday …

This week on The Allegheny Front radio show I talked about my addiction to nestcams and why you like them, too.  Hear the broadcast, see some photos of Dorothy, and read the text at this link:

Why I’m Addicted to Bird Nestcams (And You Should Be Too)

 

 

(photo of a nestling perched near the nestcam, June 2009, from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

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Apr 19 2016

Let’s Get Outdoors: April 23 to May 1

Great chickweed, Braddock's Trail Park, 18 Apr 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Great chickweed, Braddock’s Trail Park, 18 Apr 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Flowers are blooming everywhere and trees will soon leaf out.  Don’t miss your chance to get outdoors while the weather’s fine.

Join me for a bird and nature walk in Schenley Park this Sunday, April 24, 8:30am – 10:30am. Meet at the Schenley Park Visitors Center.  Click here for information and updates.

Or join one of these many outings — April 23 through May 1.

Everyone is welcome to participate. Click on the links for directions, meeting places, what to bring, and phone numbers for the leaders.

2016: Date/Time Focus Location Leader & Link to more info
Sat. Apr 23, 9:30am Birds & Potluck lunch Raccoon Creek State Park, Beaver County Ryan Tomazin, 3RBC / Brooks Bird Club
Sat. Apr 23, 10:00am Flowers Boyce-Mayview, Upper St. Clair, Allegheny County Judy Stark, BotSocWPA
Sat. Apr 23, 2:00pm Flowers Brady’s Run Park, Beaver County Peggy Gorrell & Loree Speedy, BotSocWPA
Sun. Apr 24, 7:30am Birds Buffalo Creek IBA-80, Washington County Larry Helgerman, 3RBC
Sun. Apr 24, 8:30am Birds & Flowers Schenley Park, Pittsburgh Kate St. John, Outside My Window
Sun. Apr 24, 8:30am Birds Frick Park, Pittsburgh Jack & Sue Solomon, 3RBC
Fri. Apr 29, 7:30am Birds Sewickley Park, Allegheny County Bob Van Newkirk, 3RBC / Fern Hollow Nature Center
Sat. Apr 30, 10:00am Flowers Powdermill Nature Reserve, Westmoreland County Martha Oliver, BotSocWPA
Sun. May 1, 8:00am All Day! Birds & Flowers Enlow Fork Extravaganza, Washington/Greene Counties Wheeling Creek Watershed Conservancy / BotSocWPA / Ralph Bell Bird Club

 

Don’t miss April flowers. Let’s get outdoors!

 

p.s. The flower shown above is a member of the Pink family called star chickweed or great chickweed (Stellaria pubera).  It looks unremarkable until you get close.  🙂

(photo by Kate St. John)

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Apr 14 2016

This Saturday and Sunday at the National Aviary

Kate St. John (photo by Thom Moeller)

This Saturday and Sunday, as part of Sky Kings Weekend, I’ll be presenting Celebrate Pittsburgh’s Peregrines! at the National Aviary.

Come on down for the 12:30pm show on Saturday April 16 or Sunday April 17.

Click here for more information on my Events page.

 

(photo by Tom Moeller)

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Apr 13 2016

Pittsburgh’s Redbud Project

Published by under Books & Events,Trees

Redbud blooming (photo by Dianne Machesney)

Redbud blooming (photo by Dianne Machesney)

Imagine that Pittsburgh was as beautiful in the spring as Washington, D.C. during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

That’s the vision that local landscape architect Frank Dawson had when he proposed planting eastern redbud trees along Pittsburgh’s riverfronts.

This spring the dream is starting to come true.

Thanks to a grant from Colcom Foundation, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is launching the Pittsburgh Redbud Project.  From now through Spring 2017 they’ll plant 1,200 eastern redbud and other native trees in Downtown Pittsburgh and along the city’s riverfronts.  Everyone who helps through May 12 will get a free seedling. (They’re giving away 1,500 of them!)

Eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are understory trees in the Pea family that bloom in early spring.  Native from southern Pennsylvania to eastern Texas, they’re cultivated for their beauty because their rose-pink flowers open on bare branches before the leaves.

Come to the Redbud Project’s Launch Event on Tuesday, April 19 at 10:00am at the Three Rivers Heritage Trail near the Mister Rogers statue.  Students and volunteers will plant 60 trees along the riverfront.  Attendees get a free redbud seedling.  (Click here for more information, here to RSVP.)

Here’s a planting along River Avenue to give you an idea of the beautiful results.

Redbud trees along River Road, Pittsburgh, April 2016 (photo courtesy Western PA Conservancy)

Redbud trees along River Avenue, Pittsburgh, April 2016 (photo courtesy Western PA Conservancy)

More events and volunteer opportunities are coming in the weeks ahead. Click here for a list.  Get a free tree!

Soon our Downtown and riverfronts will be transformed.

 

(photos: redbud flowers’ closeup by Dianne Machesney. Row of redbud trees on River Avenue, courtesy Western Pennsylvania Conservancy)

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