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Broken clouds
51.8 °F
October 23, 2016
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River Talk

A prickly misperception

“Myths and misunderstandings abound in nature and can lead to undesirable outcomes.”

I wrote that sentence in a recent River Talk column to bring awareness to the confusion many people have about ragweed, goldenrod and allergies. (Ragweed, not goldenrod, is causing your respiratory symptoms:  Read more

Opportunistic wildlife viewing

How many times have you gone on a bird walk and happened across an otter, bear, or other animal that was not on the day’s agenda of expected wildlife to see. You might be in a bird blind and all of a sudden, a bobcat walks across a game trail in front of the blind (and too close to focus with your long birding lens). It’s always good to expect the unexpected. The time I was out trying to find a reported injured eagle and instead, found a few timber rattlesnakes (a group of gravid females basking on some rocks) was probably a good example.  Read more

Fantastic foliage

Photo caption:
According to DCNR, Pennsylvania’s location between 40° and 42° North latitude and its varied topography from sea level to over 3,000 feet supports 134 species of trees like sassafras, sugar maple, red maple, birch, ash and cherry. Such species peak earlier, followed by species like hickory and oak, which ripen more slowly. Many more shrubs and vines, such as Virginia creeper, contribute to the brilliant autumn color display. Visit for a helpful explanation of why leaves change color.  Read more

Osprey: from threatened to protected?

A proposal was made before commissioners of the PA Game Commission (PGC) at its September 19th meeting to remove the osprey from the list of threatened species in Pennsylvania. The board of commissioners gave preliminary approval to an updated management plan for the osprey, and one of the items in the new plan is to change of the osprey’s status from threatened to protected. If the plan is fully adopted, the board will also heighten penalties for anyone unlawfully killing an osprey; this would be similar to the penalties adopted after the bald eagle listed as a protected species in 2014.  Read more

Clarifying a misconception

Myths and misunderstandings abound in nature and can lead to undesirable outcomes. Such is the case when it comes to two plants that flower at this time of year. One of them provokes an allergic response in humans. The other does not, but it is often blamed for the offense. Why?
Ragweed is responsible for the host of symptoms associated with respiratory allergies. But although we’re all familiar with its name, many of us haven’t a clue what it looks like. That’s because its unassuming appearance allows it to fade into the background of our perception, behind other more showy plants.  Read more

Red-tail airshow

In a week or two, huge numbers of broad-winged hawks will fill the skies in some areas like Hawk Mountain in PA or Sunrise Mountain in New Jersey. That will be near-peak migration time for them as they make their move south, and daily counts may be in the thousands.  Read more

Likin’ lichen and fungi

“Take a Lichen to Fungus,” reads the flyer announcing an upcoming program that should provide participants with a better understanding of the important roles of decomposition and nutrient cycling played by fungus and lichen. “Fungus Among Us” is scheduled for September 11 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the Pocono Environmental Education Center, located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Dingmans Ferry, PA.  Read more

The color of late summer

With fall coming toward the end of this month, everyone is no doubt thinking of the brilliant colors of fall leaves—and cleaning them up afterwards. However, we still have a lot of colorful late summer foliage that can be seen without too much effort in the form of late flowering plants.  Read more

Planning for PA wildlife protection

Were you aware that Pennsylvania has a Wildlife Action Plan that guides how the state strives to conserve its most threatened wildlife species? First published in 2005, the 2015-2025 plan has again been updated and will be presented by the PA Fish and Boat and PA Game Commissions at the next Environmental Issues Forum of the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee scheduled for October 24.  Read more

A very small predator

Walk near almost any patch of forest, or even your backyard now, and you will either see or hear one or more chipmunks. As they dart around foraging for seeds or nuts and chattering, and perhaps eating sunflower seeds out of someone’s hand, the “cuteness” factor is up pretty high for this small member of the squirrel family. But is there another side to this friendly little critter scurrying back and forth on the lawn? All may not be what it seems.  Read more

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