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
September 8th promised to be a good day to observe migrating hawks; a cold front had just passed and there was a light to moderate wind from the northwest. Some hawks were counted at Sunrise Mountain, but there was another predator of the insect variety that caught my eye. Sitting on a bush, almost invisible as it blended in with leaves, was a mantis sitting in wait for its next meal. Read more
At a recent meeting of the Wayne Conservation District, board members and staff received a sobering update on two factors negatively affecting Pennsylvania’s forests.
John Maza, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources service forester for Wayne and Lackawanna counties noted that the emerald ash borer (EAB), a brilliant green beetle that has decimated ash tree populations in multiple states since first being identified in Michigan in 2002, has now been identified in Luzerne County. Read more
Now is the time when you will likely see furry caterpillars, black with an orange stripe in the middle, crossing roads or sidewalks. These are the much celebrated “woolly bears,” or the larvae of the Isabella tiger moth. There are two generations of wooly bear caterpillars per year, and the second generation overwinters in logs or under bark. Most of the caterpillars seen in the fall are on a quest to find a suitable overwintering location. Read more