Archive for the 'Books & Events' Category

Jun 26 2016

David Sibley Coming to Pittsburgh, July 14

Published by under Books & Events

David Sibley and his newest book (photo by Richard Pasley via Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures)

David Sibley and his newest book (photo by Richard Pasley via Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures)

If you’re a birder you’ve probably heard of David Sibley whose excellent field guides are illustrated with his own art work.  I’m particularly fond of his Sibley Guide to Birds, Sibley Guide to Trees, and the Sibley Birds app on my cellphone.  (Can you tell I’m addicted?)

We’ll get a chance to meet David Sibley when he comes to Pittsburgh for two events on July 14:  a dinner hosted by Audubon of Western Pennsylvania (ASWP) and his lecture at Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures.

Attend only the dinner or both dinner+lecture by signing up at the ASWP website:

Member Banquet and an Evening with David Sibley, July 14 starting at 5 pm.  Click here to attend.

Dinner and the awards presentation will be held at St. Nicholas Church in Oakland and David Sibley will speak at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, right across the street. The event starts at 5 pm with dinner served at 5:30 pm. Tickets are $50 each and include a copy of Sibley’s newest book.

Attend only the lecture by signing up at Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures:

Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh present David Sibley
Thursday, July 14, 2016, 7 pm at Carnegie Lecture Hall, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15213

Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased online, over the phone at 412.622.8866, or at the door starting at 6 pm on the evening of the event. Tickets include a copy of David’s newest book The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition.

Don’t miss it.

 

(photo of David Sibley by Richard Pasley and cover of Sibley’s latest book via Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures website)

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Jun 20 2016

Yesterday’s Walk at Schenley Park

Our Schenley Park outing, 19 June 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Our Schenley Park outing, 19 June 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Yesterday morning 15 of us took a walk on the Lower Trail in Schenley Park.  Highlights include …

  • Two ephemerals:
    • Inky cap mushrooms that dissolve into ink the same day they appear. Click here to see what they look like.  Thanks to Adam Haritan of Learn Your Land for identifying them.
    • Ohio spiderwort flowers that last only a day before they wilt:

Ohio Spiderwort, 14 June 2014 (photo by )

  • Sights and sounds of birds including a busy flock of common grackles, a young wood thrush perched on a log and singing rose-breasted grosbeaks and acadian flycatchers.
  • The bug-eat-bug world of aphids sucking juice out of tall flower stems while ladybugs and harvestmen (daddy longlegs) pursued them.
  • And two deer, one with a big rack in velvet.

Thanks to all for coming.  My next outing will be on July 31 at Duck Hollow and Lower Frick Park.

 

(photo by Kate St. John)

9 responses so far

Jun 13 2016

Reminder: Schenley Park, June 19

Northern flicker  nestling, calling from nest hole in Schenley park, 10 June 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Northern flicker nestling, calling in Schenley Park, 10 June 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Just a reminder that I’m leading a bird and nature walk on Sunday June 19, 8:30am at Bartlett Shelter on Bartlett Street near Panther Hollow Road.  I’m sure we’ll see nesting and baby birds. Click here for more information.

Those who attended my Schenley Park outing on April 24 may remember we found a northern flicker calling from a nest hole above the Visitors Center steps.  He was trying to attract a mate to his deluxe nest site under a big shelf mushroom.

Last Friday I found proof that he succeeded.  I heard a flicker calling from the same area and it was his son!

Look under the shelf mushroom in these photos. He matches the tree trunk but you can see a dark mustache on his face.

Northern flicker nestling in Schenley Park, 10 June 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Northern flicker nestling in Schenley Park, 10 June 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

 

Looking forward to seeing you on June 19.  Visit the Events page before you come … in case the walk is cancelled for bad weather.

 

(photos by Kate St. John)

One response so far

Jun 09 2016

June 9: Fledge Watch Downtown & Schenley

Peregrine fledgling whining at 309 Smithfield St, 8 June 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Peregrine fledgling whining at 309 Smithfield St, 8 June 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)

I will be Downtown June 9 at 11:25 am to 12:25 pm, then at Schenley Fledge Watch 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Check the Events page for many updates.

News of the Downtown peregrines:

As of yesterday morning all four nestlings had flown.
7:30am to 10:30am: 3 fledglings visible simultaneously.
11:00am to end of day: 2 fledglings visible simultaneously. The others were perched out of sight.

For most of the day a fledgling perched and screamed from a 7th floor windowsill at 309 Smithfield Street (above).  The screaming meant “Parents! Bring me food!” but his parents ignored him because they wanted him to fly to a better perch.  Concerned observers called the Game Commission.  No worries. A high-up screaming peregrine is OK, just annoying.

At noon, Tuesday’s rescued bird ran along the edge of the porch and flew 1.5 blocks to the top of the Art Institute.

Peregrine fledgling practices flying short distances on the rescue porch edge (photo by Lori Maggio)

Peregrine fledgling practices short distance flights at the rescue porch (photo by Lori Maggio)

 

At 4:10pm Lori Maggio found this fledgling on an arch at the Pioneer Building, Wood Street at Boulevard of the Allies.

Peregrine fledgling on a 5th floor arch, 8 June 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Peregrine fledgling on a 5th floor arch, 8 June 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Today the Downtown fledglings will be harder to find because they’re flying everywhere.

UPDATE June 9, 12:20pm: Today is the last day of Downtown Fledge Watch.  The youngsters are flying so well that it’s really hard to keep up with them.
Around noon I found 1 adult on the Third Ave gargoyle, 1 youngster on top of the Art Institute and another (apparently The Screamer) on a 6th floor ledge on Third Avenue. The Screamer is really good at flying now. He moves fast!

 

(photos by Lori Maggio)

If you stop by Downtown Fledge Watch check the ground. If you find a fledgling, corral it to a safe zone and call the PGC “rescue” number (724-238-9523).

21 responses so far

Jun 08 2016

June 8: Watch for Downtown Peregrines

Fledge watchers Downtown at Third Ave, 7 June 2016 (photo by John English)

Fledge watchers Downtown at Third Ave, 7 June 2016 (photo by John English)

I will be Downtown 11:25am-to-12:30pm.

John English will be at Schenley Fledge Watch at noon.

Please stop by Downtown Fledge Watch any time and check for peregrines on the ground. If you find one, corral it to a safe zone and call the PGC “rescue” number: 724-238-9523.

As you can see there’s a pretty side of the street (above) and the dumpster side of the street (below).

 

News of the Downtown peregrines:

As of June 7 at 2:00pm: 3 had fledged, 1 was still in the nest. One of the three had been rescued and was 19 stories up at Lawrence Hall. Both parents visible.

As of June 8, 7:30am:  Lori Maggio reports that two of the fledglings are two stories up and whining loudly at the gated area behind Dollar Bank. They’re begging for food. My guess is that their parents are refusing to feed them until they fly up higher.  This is a noisy test of wills which the older generation will eventually win.  The “kids” have to learn to stay up high.

 

… Yesterday John English caught us by the dumpsters looking at our cellphones.  Yoy!

Fledge watchers Downtown, 7 June 2016 (photo by John English)

Fledge watchers Downtown, 7 June 2016 (photo by John English)

 

(photos by John English)

UPDATE, June 8, 8:30am:  Photo from Lori Maggio, two fledglings at back of Dollar Bank. Today’s gusty winds may keep these birds low today.  SEE ABOVE FOR THE REASON WHY THEY’RE WHINING.

Two peregrine fledglings at back of Dollar Bank, 8 June 2016, 7:30am (photo by Lori Maggio)

Two peregrine fledglings at back of Dollar Bank, 8 June 2016, 7:30am (photo by Lori Maggio)

UPDATE AT 12:20pm: All 4 have fledged. Rescue Porch bird flew to top of Art Institute (good job!). Another fledgling is perched at a blue window approx 7 floors up on Smithfield Street above Crazy Mocha. Haven’t seen the other two yet. (We try to locate all of them but it’s impossible this stage.) As I left Fledge Watch, Lori Maggio and Dallas DiLeo are on site.

NO CHANGE as of 4:30pm except Art Institute bird flew to Pioneer Hall (corner of Wood and Blvd of the allies) on the Wood Street side. 5 stories up on an arch. Only 2 are visible.

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May 31 2016

Meet Me At The Tent, June 9-14

Schenley Plaza tent (photo by Kate St. John)

Schenley Plaza tent (photo by Kate St. John)

Next week the Cathedral of Learning peregrine chick, C1, will fly for the first time.  Meet me at the Schenley Plaza tent June 9 – 12 for the Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch.

This Watch is 98% fun and only 2% rescue.  The nest site is so high that only one fledgling out of 43 has ever been rescued from the ground.(*)

Stop by the tent and join the fun.  Watch C1 walk on the ledges and exercise her wings.  See her parents, Hope and Terzo, show off with some really cool flight demonstrations.   Learn about peregrines and swap stories including news of Pitt peregrine alumni and the Downtown peregrines.

Here’s the schedule, weather permitting.   The Watch will be cancelled for bad weather, so check my Events page for updates.  NOTE THE CHANGES MADE BELOW!

  • Tuesday, June 7, Noon to 2:00pm. Tuesday CANCELLED. I’ll be at Downtown Fledge Watch because those youngsters are fledging now and need observers in case of rescue.
  • Wednesday, June 8, Noon to 2:00pm. Wednesday CANCELLED. Again, I’ll be at Downtown Fledge Watch because those youngsters need observers in case of rescue.
  • Thursday, June 9, 8:30 to 9:30am + Noon to 2:00pm. Only a midday watch today.  Will C1 be ledge walking today? If so she’ll be easy to see from Schenley Plaza.
  • Friday, June 10, 8:30 to 9:30am + Noon to 2:00pm. Only a midday watch today.
  • Saturday, June 11, 9:00 to 11:00am + Noon to 3:00pm.  I’ll be covering the morning Watch.  John English will cover noon to 3:00pm.
  • Sunday, June 12, 11:00am to 1:00pm.  Perhaps C1 will fledge today … or tomorrow.
  • Monday, June 13, noon to 2:00pm.  Check the Events page for updates to this schedule.

Plan on joining me at the Schenley Plaza tent for Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch.

For more information, here’s a video from 2009 Fledge Watch and a Peregrine FAQ that describes what you’ll see on camera as the young peregrine leaves the nest.

 

(photo of the Schenley Plaza tent by Kate St. John)

(*) The one rescued fledgling was developmentally disabled and had defective wings (2015)C1 is very healthy.

6 responses so far

May 30 2016

Poppy Day

Published by under Books & Events,Plants

Red poppies (photo from Lest We Forget via Wikimedia Commons)

Red poppies (photo from Lest We Forget via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s Poppy Day.

When I was a child, we wore a red paper flower on a wire stem on Memorial Day. They were offered by Veterans of Foreign Wars to passersby for a donation to help veterans. The paper flowers symbolize the Remembrance Poppy from World War I.

Poppies became a veterans’ symbol thanks to the tireless efforts of Moina Michael, “The Poppy Lady,” who was inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae.  McCrae wrote the poem for a friend who died at the Second Battle of Ypres in Flanders (Belgium) in 1915.  After the battles, poppies bloomed among the graves.

At first her idea did not catch on, but in 1922 the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) adopted the poppy as their official memorial flower.  That year they distributed paper poppies made in France but in 1924 they brought the program stateside to the first Buddy Poppy factory, located in Pittsburgh and manned by disabled veterans.

Ninety years later the Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans at VA Hospitals across the country and Buddy Poppy fund drives focus on Memorial and Veterans Days.   (Watch a video about the VFW Buddy Poppy program here.)

That’s why I think of poppies today.

 

(photo from Lest We Forget via Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)

p.s. Did you know that growing poppies used to be illegal in the U.S.?  The Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942 was repealed in October 1970 but the law remains ambiguous.

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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)

3 responses so far

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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