On Tuesday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m, as part of their Science on Screen series, the Tull Family Theater in Sewickley will be showing A Birder’s Guide to Everything, a film about teens wanting to make birding history. The film is paired with an introduction by Dr. Brian Wargo, an educator and official Audubon Society counter at the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch. He will be talking about the successful recovery of bald eagles and peregrine falcons from extirpation in our area.
What: Presentation + movie: Dr. Brian Wargo speaks about the recovery of bald eagles & peregrine falcons followed by the 2013 movie A Birder’s Guide to Everything, a comedy rated PG-13.
Register for an eBird account if you don’t already have one. (GBBC uses eBird.)
Count birds for at least 15 minutes during those four days. Yes, the minimum requirement is just 15 minutes of your time! You can count for longer than 15 minutes and in more than one place if you wish.
Keep track of the highest number of each species with a separate checklist for each new day, for each new location, or for the same location if you counted at a different time of day. Use your computer or the eBird mobile app to submit your observations.
Today the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, predicted the weather for the next six weeks. He says we’ll have an early spring.
Groundhog Day is the mid-point of the celestial winter, a cross quarter day that marks the halfway point between solstice and equinox. According to Wikipedia, Celtic and Germanic tradition says that if the hedgehog sees his shadow today winter will last 6 more weeks. (It will anyway; today is 6 weeks before the equinox.) If he doesn’t see his shadow we’ll have an early spring. At dawn in Punxsutawney it was overcast with light snow — no shadow, early spring.
There aren’t any hedgehogs on this continent so immigrants substituted the groundhog (Marmota monax) for their annual tradition.
In the early days groundhogs didn’t hang out near people but they soon learned we have something they want. Food!
We also provide shelter, though unintentionally. Groundhogs use our buildings and concrete structures to make burrows for sleeping, rearing young, and hibernating.
Groundhogs will emerge from their burrows this spring in Pittsburgh, probably later this month. I know they live in Greenfield (near my backyard!) and Andrew Mumma has seen them near Pitt. They’re something to look forward to.
One species, the Scots or Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris), doesn’t lose its needles even when it’s completely dry. I’ve seen Scotch pines put out for trash collection in January that looked as if they were freshly cut. There’s a down side though, as described at The Spruce:
You’ll want to wear gloves when decorating a Scotch pine since its needles can be sharp as pins!
Audubon’s 120th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is about to begin. Every year from December 14 through January 5 volunteers count the birds they see in a single 24-hour period within 15-mile diameter “count” circles.
It’s easy to participate. No experience is necessary. Count at your feeders or in the field. Count on your own or in a group.
Choose a location and date that suits you from the map at audubon.org. Click on the bird icon inside the circle for a description and contact information, then contact the Count Coordinator to let them know you’re counting. The Coordinator makes sure you don’t double-count someone else’s territory and helps you join a group if you wish.
17 counts are planned in southwestern Pennsylvania, listed in the table at the end.