• Appalachian Seasons books get a makeover

    Appalachian Seasons books get a makeover

    I’m pleased to announce that the University of Pittsburgh Press has reissued my four Appalachian books with brand new and beautiful covers featuring the paintings of John James Audubon.

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  • Farewell


    After a long, late fall, winter dropped a white shroud more than a foot deep over our mountaintop just in time for our Christmas Bird Count last year. Although I managed to get outside for a short jaunt around Butterfly Loop where our caretaker Troy had plowed, I left wading through the snow up to…

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  • The Many-Tongued Mimic

    The Many-Tongued Mimic

    Every winter we have at least one unusual bird visitor. The winter before last it was the northern shrike. Last winter, during the pandemic, most birders were excited about the superflight south of boreal birds and welcomed huge numbers of pine siskins, red-breasted nuthatches and common redpolls, as well as evening grosbeaks and even hoary…

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  • Fishy Crows

    Fishy Crows

    Fish crows have not been studied as much as American crows but like their congeners they are curious, intelligent and social birds

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  • The Mystery of Night

    The Mystery of Night

    Last September fall songbird migration was well underway. Almost every day I encountered a migrant in our yard, our meadow, or our forest. Many of the birds are not as colorful as the males are in spring and there are huge numbers of immature warblers that wear the drab coats of females such as the…

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  • Disappearing Bullbats

    Disappearing Bullbats

    Years ago I used to hear the nasal “peents” of bullbats, also known as common nighthawks, as they flew over First Field at dusk on summer evenings. During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, we heard or saw a few most years, and back in July 1987, four nighthawks appeared every evening, “peenting” and swooping low…

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  • Our Fiftieth Anniversary

    Our Fiftieth Anniversary

    Fifty years have passed since we first saw our mountaintop home on the Fourth of July weekend. Following directions from a local realtor, my husband Bruce slowly drove our red Volkswagen bus up a steep, deeply rutted, private road. Our three sons—Steve (7), Dave (5), and Mark (2)—were in the back of the bus peering…

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  • Wild Parenting

    Wild Parenting

    June is a month when I often observe wild parenting during my walks. On the first day of June last year I was halfway down Pit Mound Trail when a doe ran off. Something in the way she moved made me believe she had a fawn nearby. I walked off-trail to look for it in…

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  • Those Darn Empids

    Those Darn Empids

    Keen birders are aware that the best time to identify the five small, look-alike Empidonax flycatchers that breed in Pennsylvania is in May when they are singing and calling during migration. Easier to identify by their voices than by their appearance, all empids, as birders call them, have gray heads, backs, wings, and tails, white…

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  • Pop Goes the Weasel

    Pop Goes the Weasel

    Last spring, we had several encounters with a long-tailed weasel that was probably denned up under the guesthouse. Whether it was only a male weasel, a female with young, or both we never knew because we only saw one weasel at a time. Our guesthouse was built in 1865 by the original settler, William Plummer…

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  • Woodcock Spring

    Woodcock Spring

    Shortly before dark last February 10, our son Dave walked up the driveway and heard the “peenting” of an American woodcock. He raced up to our house to alert our son Mark and me, and we joined Dave on our veranda to listen. A couple minutes passed before both sons said, “Listen.” That’s when I…

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  • Counting Raptors in Mid-Winter

    Counting Raptors in Mid-Winter

    Last winter was the 20th year of the Winter Raptor Survey. This innovative survey is the brainchild of Greg Grove, who is a retired biochemist from Penn State University, the compiler of the Stone Mountain Hawk Watch and the editor of Pennsylvania Birds magazine. The Winter Raptor Survey (WRS) is designed to count all raptors…

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