This month saw a couple of storms with accumulating snowfalls, and there is a foot on the ground in most areas of the region, give or take a few inches. This is good news for skiers and the area ski resorts, but if you are shoveling your driveway or have to get to work in bad weather, maybe this is not so good news. Read more
Holiday shoppers who desire to make a difference can still do so with some of the following gift options. Support state parks, forests and environmental organizations that play important roles in maintaining regional biodiversity, protecting natural resources and promoting outdoor recreation by checking out these opportunities. Read more
The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), made famous by “Hedwig” the snowy owl that was a gift to Harry Potter in the popular book series, is not an owl normally seen in this region. They spend their summers breeding at the northernmost tundra regions of Canada and Alaska. Unlike most owls, snowy owls feed diurnally, or during the daytime. They have no choice in the arctic, where it’s daylight everyday most the summer. Feather-covered feet and nostrils shielded by feathers are a few of many adaptations that this owl possesses. Read more
Twenty years ago, the world lost one of the most renowned ornithologists and one of the greatest field biologists of the 20th century. Ted Parker died at the age of 40 in a plane crash while pursuing what he loved most—the study of South America’s birds. In his honor, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO) is offering a free digital download of his recordings from “Voices from the Peruvian Rainforest” (available at tinyurl.com/peruvianrainforest). Read more
With the Thanksgiving season upon us, most of us are thinking about turkey, whether wild or on the dinner table. Wild turkey is common in our region today, and it’s hard to travel in most woodland habitats without at least seeing sign of wild turkeys, but it wasn’t always like that. Read more
Those who seek proof that Pennsylvania is one of the most beautiful states in America need look no further than photographer Michael Gadomski’s newest book, “Reserves of Strength,” which takes its title from Rachel Carson’s statement: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Read more
The first few days of November yielded a couple of mild days before a cold front brought some brisk northwest winds and nighttime temperatures that hit the teens in many areas. Some flights of avian harbingers of fall such as the migrating golden eagle and the first flocks of bufflehead had already made their appearance; however, it was the flight of another critter on a couple of local lakes that drew my attention on these first mild days in November. Read more
Two timely seasonal reminders are important to take very seriously right now. The first applies to boaters enjoying Pennsylvania’s abundant waterways. The second is pertinent to all drivers utilizing PA roadways.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) notes that beginning November 1 and lasting through April 30, boaters are required to wear a life jacket while on boats less than 16 feet in length or on any canoe or kayak. The requirement applies to all Pennsylvania waters. Read more
Halloween is associated with many things; today it’s mostly trick-or-treating or costume parties. If you go back in history, however, it can be observed that there was much more of a supernatural element in people’s beliefs. Many of these supernatural beliefs had to do with nature and natural events. A lot of superstition over various creatures got started in the Middle Ages, when we didn’t understand them or their interaction with the environment. In many cases when people didn’t understand animals or their adaptations back then, they were to be feared. Read more
Late one recent afternoon, while I was driving slowly down a dirt road in Pike County, a large bird suddenly swooped just in front of my car’s windshield. I braked and watched as it perched in a tree just overhead. Turning off the motor, I slowly exited with camera in tow, certain that the bird would immediately fly off.
Surprisingly, it remained where it had landed, then proceeded to quietly observe me as I snapped away. The encounter was thrilling, as the bird turned out to be a barred owl, a personal favorite of mine and one I have never encountered in the wild before. Read more