Nature

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s collection of plant specimens is housed in rows of tall, dusty metal filing cabinets on the building’s upper floors. When researchers want to study one of the collection's specimens, they have to request it through the mail sight unseen and wait to see if it's what they need.

Mark Thiessen / AP

Microscopic mites are causing extreme itching in Pennsylvania’s black bears, leading to hair loss, lesions, infections and even death.

Where Are The Trees Going In Allegheny County?

May 11, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

The nonprofit Tree Pittsburgh released some disturbing data about Allegheny County’s tree canopy earlier this year. 

Fish, Birds And Mussels Get Their Own Business Plan In Pennsylvania

Apr 12, 2018

A new conservation strategy is underway in Western Pennsylvania. The Western Pennsylvania Business Plan for Restoration of Healthy Forests and Freshwater Habitat prioritizes funding for projects that focus on key species in important ecosystems to ultimately restore healthy forests and freshwater habitat in the region. The plan was developed with numerous conservation groups headed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Can This Bird Survive Climate Change? The Answer Could Be In Its DNA

Mar 15, 2018
Mary Corporan Dunn / Flickr

new study in the journal Science finds there are genetic differences in yellow warblers that live in different parts of the U.S. and Canada, and some of those populations seem to be more genetically vulnerable to climate change than others.

Rachael Bay is the lead author of the study, at the University of California-Davis and the Bird Genoscape Project.

Why I'm Addicted To Bird Nestcams (And You Should Be Too)

Mar 8, 2018
Peter Bell

*This story was originally published April 22, 2016. 

Ah, Spring! The time of year when we’re glued to our computers and cell phones watching live webcams pointed at the nests of celebrity birds of prey. We’re totally absorbed as they hatch eggs and raise their downy babies.

Visitors From Asia Flock To Snow Geese Spectacle In Pennsylvania

Mar 5, 2018
Elaine Thompson / AP

It's 6:30 a.m. at Willow Point, a peninsula in the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and though it's foggy and not yet light, about 75 people are already clustered together listening to an estimated 135,000 snow geese psyching themselves into a take-off.

Hunched over expensive cameras mounted on tripods and holding up cell phones to capture the roar, it's hard not to notice that more than half the onlookers are Asian-Americans or visitors from China.

Turns Out Birds Like To Eat Local, Too

Dec 21, 2017
Mark Duncan / AP

Native plants are better for birds than non-native plants.

That’s the main finding of a study on chickadees and the caterpillars they eat.

 

Desiree Narango is the lead author. She’s a research fellow at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and a PhD candidate at the University of Delaware.

“From the chickadee’s perspective, it’s as if a non-native plant isn’t even there at all because they almost never forage in them,” she says.

Please Don't Buy Japanese Barberry. Forests Will Thank You

Sep 22, 2017
Paige Walter / Allegheny Front

With reporting by Paige Walter

It would be an understatement to say that Ryan Utz is not a fan of Japanese barberry.

Utz is a professor at Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability, and as we walk through some damp, forested land on the property of their Eden Hall campus, north of Pittsburgh, he can hardly contain himself.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Six Pittsburgh students are spending their summer learning about the plants and animals in Frick Park and how to protect them with erosion control and managing invasive species. 

Students working in the Young Naturalist program don’t typically have access to nature. 

90.5 WESA’s Sarah Schneider spoke with Taiji Nelson, a naturalist educator with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, about teaching kids to be park stewards. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

PixController via YouTube

Pittsburgh's pair of bald eagles apparently have a new egg a week after their nest was lost when the tree was toppled by high winds.

After losing the nest Feb. 12, the pair started to build a new nest near the old one in a tree on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania said Monday that without a clear view of the new nest from a webcam, observers have deduced the presence of an egg by the birds' behavior.

PA Game Commission

 

A mother bear and three cubs have been found dead in a Pennsylvania church parking lot.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission calls the deaths of the sow and the cubs "highly suspicious" and is seeking information.

Wildlife conservation officers responded Tuesday to a report of dead bears in the parking lot of St. Monica's Church in West Wyoming. They discovered a nearly 300-pound female bear and the cubs.

The bears showed no signs of bullet wounds or external trauma.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

State police are trying to determine who intentionally killed an elk on an eastern Pennsylvania nature and wild game preserve.

Troopers from Bethlehem say the animal was found slain about 8:30 a.m. Sunday at the Trexler Nature Preserve.

The 1,100-acre facility is owned by Lehigh County and is next to the Lehigh Valley Zoo, about 10 miles west of Allentown. It was founded more than 100 years ago as a way to preserve endangered bison and elk herds.

Why Some Birds May Be Planning An Extended Stay This Fall

Oct 27, 2016
Thomas James Caldwell / Flickr

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 2016’s trend of record-breaking temperatures has continued into the fall. And that unseasonably warm weather may be changing the timing for birds heading out of our region for their fall migrations.

UBC Learning Commons / Flickr

State government will soon offer groups promising environmental education up to $50,000 in grant money, a significant jump from the former maximum of $3,000.

Beginning in 2017, funding from the Department of Environmental Protection will be available to help generate groups more ambitious programming on watershed management, brownfield remediation and other topics at the state and regional levels, DEP spokeswoman Susan Rickens said.

To qualify for the max amount, organizations need to generate at least $10,000 in matching funds, she said.

Scientists have answered a burning question central to the charm of sunflowers: Why do young flowers move their blooms to always face the sun over the course of a day?

And then: Once sunflowers reach maturity, why do they stop tracking the sun and only face east?

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The cicadas are back after 17 years underground, and cicada mania is in full swing.

After 17 Years, Cicadas Are Ready To Bust Out In Pennsylvania

May 19, 2016
griecheo / Instagram

 

They’re almost here. Actually, the insects are already here.

In A Noisy World, Our Brains Still Need The Sounds Of Nature

Feb 9, 2016
Kerry Klein / Allegheny Front

Kurt Fristrup is standing in the middle of a prairie and he’s the loudest thing for miles. He and I are huddled near an empty cattle pen in Pawnee National Grassland in northern Colorado. Before he pulled out his tools, the silence here was palpable. The breeze carried no sound except the rustle of a million stalks of yellow grass. A family of pronghorn, kind of like furry antelope, padded over to us to investigate.

Travis Swan / Flickr

Children feel better, behave better and their cognitive skills improve when they spend time outdoors, according to Heather Sage, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy director of community projects.

Sage, along with Betty Cruz, manager of special initiatives for the city, and Jamie Beechey, Parks and Recreation deputy director, will represent Pittsburgh at the Connecting Children to Nature Leadership Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota this week.

The Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group (PTAG) is trying to attract more bikers, hikers and visitors to Allegheny County’s trails by broadening this year's celebration.  

The eighth annual Trail Fest, formerly the Mountain Bike Fest, will feature a wider variety of events than in years past. Trail running and hiking have been added to the list of activities,  with the mainstay — mountain bike riding returning.

Peter Greninger, president of PTAG, said the festival is for any nature lover.