Archive for the 'Books & Events' Category

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

Mar 12 2014

New Banner, Thanks!

Published by under Books & Events

Thanks to the design skills of Joan Guerin and the coding skills of Jay Volk, there’s a new look at the top of my blog.   Here’s who contributed the gorgeous banner photos:
• Avocet flock: Kim Steininger
• Bobolink: Steve Gosser
• Peregrine falcon: Chad+Chris Saladin
• Starling flock above a tree: Tom Pawlesh
• Tundra Swans on the lake: Steve Gosser

Click on your browser’s refresh button to see a new photo. Look up and see!

4 responses so far

Mar 06 2014

National Aviary at Night, March 20

Published by under Books & Events

National Aviary at Night event

It’s been a long winter and I’m tired of observing birds in the cold.  If you are too, let’s get together at the National Aviary on Thursday evening, March 20, for the National Aviary At Night, 5:00pm to 9:00pm.

Admission is half price (members are always free) and there’s open café service and a cash bar.  I’m going to start my evening near the food.  :)

Click on the image above for more information and the menu.

Hope to see you there!

3 responses so far

Feb 13 2014

Great Backyard Bird Count Starts Tomorrow

Published by under Books & Events,Quiz

American goldfinches at the feeder (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

Fill your feeders and get ready for the bird count you can do in your pajamas.

For four days — tomorrow February 14 through Monday February 17 — you can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count from the comfort of your home.  All you need to do is count birds for at least 15 minutes, keep track of the highest number of each species you see, and record your count on eBird (instructions here).  If you take pictures, submit them to the GBBC Photo Contest.

Join with others across the continent in this weekend science project.  Your data will show trends in winter bird populations across North America as you can see in these statistics from prior years.

Don’t want to stay indoors?  You can count birds anywhere or join others at one of these local events. (Scroll down for the many events in Pennsylvania.)  Here’s how to participate no matter where you choose to count.

Meanwhile, you can practice counting with this photo by Marcy Cunkelman.  What species and how many birds are in the picture?


(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

2 responses so far

Jan 27 2014

Schenley Park Oak Wilt Meeting, Feb 3

Back in July I mentioned that there’s oak wilt in Schenley Park.  In the weeks ahead those trees will come down.
Councilman Corey O’Connor is holding an informational meeting about the project on Monday February 3, 6:00pm – 7:30pm at the Jewish Community Center, Levinson Hall B.  (The main entrance is at 5738 Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill.)

See Councilman O’Connor’s flyer below for more information.

Schenley Park Oak Wilt meeting, 3 Feb 2014, 6:00pm

One response so far

Jan 23 2014

Winter Birds On WQED

Published by under Books & Events

me (photo by Andy Starnes, Post-Gazette)One week from today on January 30 at 7:30pm, WQED’s Pittsburgh 360 will air a segment on winter birds by Doug Oster.

Several Pittsburgh birders are in the show including Bob Mulvihill of the National Aviary, Jim Hausman of Jefferson Hills and yours truly, Kate St. John.

If you miss the premiere next Thursday click here for dates and times of five opportunities to watch on TV plus a link to the online video, available after the show airs next Thursday.

See me in my purple coat.  ;)

(photo by Andy Starnes/Post-Gazette)

7 responses so far

Jan 06 2014

Help Study Snowy Owls

Snowy Owl in flight (photo by Kim Steininger)

Are you curious about the snowy owls visiting us this winter?  Would you like to know who the owls are and where they’re going?  So would a team of scientists.  They’re going to find out and you can help.

This winter’s snowy owl irruption is so huge that by December ornithologists and wildlife managers realized they had a golden opportunity to find the answers to many questions:  How old are the owls? What sex are they? Have they been exposed to toxins?  Where are they going?

Thus was born Project SNOWstorm, a collaboration of 18 scientists and 13 organizations.  The project tags snowy owls, collects data on their age, sex, and blood toxins (if any), and maps their movements via satellite.  The project also collects location-specific photos of snowy owls from anyone who wants to help.

So far Project SNOWstorm has tagged two owls, one at Buena Vista, Wisconsin, the other at Assateague, Maryland.  As soon as each owl was released his tag began transmitting at regular intervals.  Their location data is continuously collected, then mapped to make a picture of the owls’ movements.

With only two tagged owls we can already see two different approaches.  “Buena Vista” never moves far from his favorite winter territory (click here for his late December  map).  “Assateague,” on the other hand, loves to wander and has visited three states in only two weeks!  (Click here for Assateague’s map).

You can help Project SNOWstorm in two ways.  If you take pictures of snowy owls this winter, you can submit them to the project to add to their database.

Better yet, help buy more transmitters and tag more owls by making a tax deductible contribution to Project SNOWstorm via the Indiegogo website.

Click here to see a video about Project SNOWstorm and contribute via Indiegogo.


(photo by Kim Steininger)

5 responses so far

Jan 01 2014

Thoughts For A New Year

Published by under Books & Events

Kate St. John with Florida Scrub-Jays (photo by Chuck Tague)

Have you ever heard your own words and learned something new from them?

I’d forgotten about an interview I did five years ago on The Allegheny Front until I stumbled upon it last week while writing about the Lower Buffalo Christmas Bird Count.

In the four and a half minute interview I found some useful resolutions for the New Year:

“Go outdoors, look around, look up.  [Outdoors you’ll] get a view of things that are bigger than yourself. …  I find it very calming to see that life goes on despite whatever is going on in my head. Nature is still rolling.”

Click on the photo above to listen.


(photo by Chuck Tague, audio by The Allegheny Front)

4 responses so far

Dec 31 2013

A Big Thank You

Published by under Books & Events

Chuck Tague, Charlie Hickey, Steve Gosser, Dianne Maceshney, Marcy Cunkelman avatar, Shawn Collins (photos from the photographers)

On this, the last day of 2013, I’m sending a big thank you to the photographers who allow me to use their photos on my blog.

You’ve seen my own photographs in this space but none of them match the work of others, especially the six who contributed the most this year.  From left to right, starting at top:

  • Chuck Tague of Volusia County, Florida is the founder and interpretive naturalist at the Nature Observer News.  Formerly of Pittsburgh, Chuck was one of my first and best teachers on observing nature.  Many of us miss his infectious curiosity and enthusiasm but we know he doesn’t miss our cold, gray winters!
  • Charlie Hickey of Berks County, PA is retired and travels widely photographing birds, plants and other cool stuff outdoors.  I met Charlie online through PABIRDS because he shared a photo.  His Flickr site is rich with information on his subjects including their scientific names (click ‘more’ at each Flickr photo).  I’m adding Charlie’s exotic places to my Bucket List.
  • Steve Gosser of Westmoreland County, PA works for an insurance company but spends all his free time photographing birds.  His beautiful photos have been published in the newspapers, including the Valley Dispatch and Tribune Review, and shown in several galleries. Watch his website or Facebook page for announcements.
  • Dianne Machesney of Allegheny County, PA is an amateur botanist, certified Master Gardener, and treasurer of the Wissahickon Nature Club where she and I met.  Now that she and her husband Bob are retired they spend more time outdoors in search of birds, butterflies and plants.  Dianne’s photos always teach me something new.
  • Marcy Cunkelman of Indiana County, PA is Editor of the The Keystone Gardener magazine, a masterful gardener, monarch butterfly “tagger” and educator.  She often invites fellow photographers to spend the day in her beautiful garden, designed for butterflies and birds. Marcy’s not shy about taking pictures but she’s shy about being in them, so I’ve had to use of one her butterfly photos as her portrait.
  • Shawn Collins of Crawford County, PA has a ‘day job’ but spends all his free time photographing birds.  His work has been published in the Edinboro newspaper at  I met Shawn online when he shared a photo on PABIRDS, then met him in person on an outing he led at Pymatuning. His photos on Facebook and Flickr have convinced me that Erie and Crawford Counties are the Shangri La of Pennsylvania birds.

These folks are only the tip of the iceberg.  So many photographers have contributed their work that there’s not room to list them all.  (See the Photographers page!)  I also owe a debt of gratitude to those who publish their work using the Creative Commons license for all to share.

So here’s a BIG THANK YOU to all the photographers who’ve given me permission to use their work.  This blog would not be possible without you.

(composite photo from each of the photographers’ websites or Facebook pages)


p.s. I didn’t tell the photographers in advance that I needed their portraits so I had to glean photos from their websites or Facebook.  After publication, Marcy Cunkelman sent this photo of herself.
Marcy Cunkelman

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