Archive for the 'Books & Events' Category

May 30 2014

Reminder: Gulf Fledge Watch This Weekend

Third peregrine chick about to take off, 6:30am May 30 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Join us at Flag Plaza above Downtown Pittsburgh to watch the Gulf Tower peregrines fledge.  We’ve added an hour this evening because we know that 3 of them have already fledged.  (The one that’s flapping took off just after this snapshot!)

  • TODAY May 30, 7:00pm-8:00pm.
  • Saturday May 31, noon to 4:00pm
  • Sunday June 1, noon to 4:00pm.

Click here for more information and directions.

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

6 responses so far

May 23 2014

Emerald View BioBlitz, June 6-7

Published by under Books & Events

Emerald View Bio Blitz (logo modified from Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation)Come One, Come All!   Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy are teaming up on Friday and Saturday June 6-7 for a BioBlitz in Pittsburgh’s newest regional park: Emerald View.

What? A BioBlitz is a 24-hour event where teams of volunteer scientists, nature observers, families and community members find and identify as many species of plants, animals, insects, fungi and organisms as possible.

Where?  Located on Mount Washington, Emerald View Park forms a ring of trails through some of the City’s most scenic green space.  BioBlitz headquarters are at Olympia Park’s entrance, Virginia Ave. & Hallock Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15211.   Click here for a map of the entire park.

When?  Friday Owl Calling Hike, 6-9pm.   Saturday Bird Count, 6-10 am.  Saturday BioBlitz Main Event, including plant & animal inventory, nature games, crafts, hikes, 10am-2pm.  Click here for more information.

Help Wanted!  All hands on deck!  Sign up online here, or call Kathryn Hunninen at 412-481-3220 x200, or email her at

I’ll be “BioBlitz birding” on Saturday morning.

Hope to see you there!

(logo, with “BioBlitz” added, from Mt. Washington CDC website)

3 responses so far

May 07 2014

Reminder: BirdSafe, Monday May 12

Wood thrush rescued Downtown, 28 April 2014 (photo by Matt Webb) Join BirdSafe Pittsburgh volunteers this coming Monday May 12 at 5:30am at PPG Plaza.  Learn how to rescue injured migratory birds and tally those killed in Downtown Pittsburgh’s hall of mirrors.

Contact Matt Webb at (412)53-AVIAN (412-532-8426) or for more information.   Click here to read more.

p.s. In just 3 days last week volunteers found and rescued wood thrushes, an ovenbird, a Kentucky Warbler, and a magnolia warbler.  Every bird counts!

3 responses so far

May 01 2014

Be A BirdSafe Volunteer

Published by under Books & Events

Wood thrush rescued Downtown, 28 April 2014 (photo by Matt Webb)

Spring migration is really heating up.  Every night the south wind brings new birds to town and with it the danger they’ll be injured or killed in Downtown Pittsburgh’s hall of mirrors.   How many birds are hurt?  This is the year to find out.

For six weeks BirdSafe Pittsburgh is discovering if and where migrating birds are injured Downtown.  I learned at the kickoff meeting that accidents don’t usually happen at the tops of skyscrapers.  Instead, most birds strike windows near street level when they become disoriented or confused by window reflections.

To assess the situation BirdSafe volunteers walk one of these eleven routes at dawn, looking for stunned or dead birds.  Stunned birds are rescued. All birds are counted.
BirdSafe Pittsburgh monitor routes (map from Matt Webb)

Participants have been pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and busy Downtown is at sunrise.  Terry Wiezorek didn’t find any hurt birds last week in the Cultural District when migration was slow, but she did find helpful maintenance people who will keep a lookout and let her know.   This week Monday’s increased migration tallied two dead birds and this rescued wood thrush that Matt Webb released at Allegheny Cemetery.  As Matt says, “One bird saved makes it all worth it!”

BirdSafe Pittsburgh needs more volunteers during this busy time.

Want to sample the project before you commit?  Meet the group at PPG Plaza on Monday mornings (next meeting: May 12) at 5:30am and walk a route with a BirdSafe volunteer.  It won’t cost you anything because on-street parking is FREE Downtown until 8:00am.

Contact Matt Webb at (412)53-AVIAN (412-532-8426) or for more information.  He’d love to hear from you!


p.s. A big thank you to Terry for providing supplies for volunteers!

(BirdSafe Pittsburgh route map and rescued wood thrush photo by Matt Webb)

7 responses so far

Apr 17 2014

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk

Published by under Books & Events

Grandma Gatewood's Walk (book cover image from Chicago Review Press)
This book is so good I could not put it down.

It’s the story of a woman, alone, in 1955, at age 67, who walked the entire Appalachian Trail.  She was the first woman to do so alone and only the seventh person to thru-hike the 2,050 miles from Mt. Oglethorpe*, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.  She went on to become the first person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) two and then three times.

Grandma Gatewood did not have hiking boots, a backpack or a tent.  She carried a blanket and a shower curtain in a drawstring bag and wore sneakers because her bunions were so bad.  But she loved being outdoors and possessed grit, determination, and a “Don’t Stop” attitude that she passed on to her eleven children.**

When asked why she hiked so far she often said, “Because I thought it would be a lark” and “I like the peacefulness in the woods” and “After the hard life I’ve lived this trail isn’t so bad.”  Author Ben Montgomery reveals for the first time how hard Emma Gatewood’s life really was: married 34 years to an abusive husband, sometimes broke because of his debts, granted a divorce in 1941 because of his abuse.  Yes, the woods are peaceful and the trail isn’t so bad.

Grandma Gatewood’s walk made the Appalachian Trail famous and probably saved it from extinction by disrepair and development.  By now millions have hiked parts of it (myself included) and more than 14,000 have thru-hiked its 2,000+ miles.  Most thru-hikers have heard of Grandma Gatewood and when times get tough they say to themselves, “If she could do it, I can too.”

Emma Rowena Gatewood shows us that what you do with your life matters.  And it’s never too late to start!


(book cover of Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.  Click on the photo to read more and buy the book at Chicago Review Press or buy it here at Amazon.)

*The Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus was moved to Springer Mountain, Georgia in 1958.

**Many of us in Pittsburgh were inspired by one of Grandma Gatewood’s children, Esther Gatewood Allen, who passed away in June 2011 before this book was written.

5 responses so far

Apr 10 2014

Reminder! BirdSafe This Sunday at Noon

Published by under Books & Events

Song sparrow dead, Golden-crowed kinglet stunned by collisions (photos by Kate St. John and Shawn Collins)Become a BirdSafe Pittsburgh volunteer this Sunday. Meet at the National Aviary, 100 Arch Street, on Sunday April 13, noon-to-2:00pm to learn what to do.

Questions?  Email Matt Webb at

Click here for more information.

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Apr 06 2014

Here’s How They Did It

You may be wondering how far the eaglecam is from the Pittsburgh Hays bald eagles’ nest and how it works out there in the woods.

This video from the Pennsylvania Game Commission shows how the eaglecam was installed last December and all the gear that makes it run.

I don’t know who climbed 75 feet up the camera tree but he was surely brave!

The man on the ground arranging the solar panels and batteries is Bill Powers of PixController.  He installed Pittsburgh’s two falconcams, too.

Many thanks, Bill, for all you do!

(YouTube video from the Pennsylvania Game Commission)

One response so far

Apr 04 2014

Help Make Pittsburgh BirdSafe!

Published by under Books & Events

Song sparrow dead, Golden-crowed kinglet stunned by collisions (photos by Kate St. John and Shawn Collins)

Here’s the project I’ve been praying for.  I hope you can help.

As I know too well, windows are a huge cause of death in birds.  Each year up to 1 billion birds die by hitting windows in the U.S. and some of them are Pittsburgh’s juvenile peregrines.  The problem is especially acute during spring and fall migration when thousands of birds pass through North American cities in the dark.  Half are killed outright. The others are stunned and need time to recuperate.  The song sparrow above died in a window-strike at WQED.  The stunned golden-crowned kinglet, rescued by Shawn Collins, is showing his yellow crown because he has a big headache!

Across North America innovative cities are working to make their towns safer for birds.  Now, thanks to a coalition of seven organizations(*), Pittsburgh is poised to join Toronto, Minneapolis-St.Paul, San Francisco and a host of others to make our town “bird safe.”   The project begins this month.

For six weeks during migration — mid-April through May — BirdSafe Pittsburgh needs volunteers to walk portions of downtown daily for an hour or two in the early morning, looking for stunned or dead birds.  Stunned birds will be rescued. All birds will be counted.

If you have free time in the early morning, and especially if you work Downtown, this project is for you!

Meet at the National Aviary, 100 Arch Street, on Sunday April 13, noon-to-2:00pm to learn what to do.   Questions?  Email Matt Webb at

I hope you can help.

Let’s make Pittsburgh BirdSafe!


(photo of window-killed song sparrow by Kate St. John. photo of collision-stunned golden-crowned kinglet by Shawn Collins)

(*) The coalition includes: American Bird Conservancy, National Aviary, Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Powdermill, Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center, Green Building Alliance, and Chatham University.

9 responses so far

Mar 17 2014

Reminder: March 20 at 5pm

Published by under Books & Events

National Aviary at Night event Reminder! I’ll be at the National Aviary at Night this coming Thursday, March 20, 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Hope to see you there.

Click here for more information.

4 responses so far

Mar 15 2014

Bird in Bradford, June 6 – 8, with the PSO

Published by under Books & Events

Saw-whet owl from PSO 2014 flier (photo by Sandy Lockerman)Looking for unusual breeding birds in Pennsylvania?  Have you ever been to the Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier?

This June the Pennsylvania Society of Ornithology (PSO) will hold field trips and its 2014 annual meeting at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford, Pennsylvania from Friday evening June 6 through midday Sunday June 8.

Bradford is the county seat of McKean County, one of the few places in Pennsylvania where you can find breeding saw-whet owls, merlins, Swainson’s thrushes, mourning warblers and pine siskins.

On Saturday and Sunday a choice of six field trips will lead you to local hotspots including Kinzua Dam and the Allegheny National Forest.  Presentations on Saturday afternoon include Golden-winged warblers, Saw-whet Owl breeding habitat, Snowy Owls and a raptor show open to the public.

Saturday night’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Bridget Stutchbury of York University, Toronto whose studies of songbird migration have revealed their routes, wintering grounds and breeding grounds on two continents.  Her work with wood thrushes in Pennsylvania inspired me to write about their journeys last May.

Everyone is welcome at the PSO Annual Meeting.  You don’t have to be a member to attend, though members get a discount.

Click here for the event schedule and here for registration and lodging information.


(photo of saw-whet owl by Sandy Lockerman from the PSO annual meeting flier)

2 responses so far

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