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Wild About PA



Read Marcus Schneck's blog on the great outdoors of Central Pennsylvania.



Last Build Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:16:27 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2017
 



Much of Central Pennsylvania still waiting for cicadamania 2013

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 13:00:48 UTC

2013-06-05T14:33:20Z

Where are the cicadas of Brood II?

The explosive emergence of 17-year periodical cicadas expected about now has yet to fully materialize in many parts of Central Pennsylvania, and may indeed not materialize this year.

Brood II, which is the group of the large insects emerging this year, has never been as abundant or widespread as the gargantuan Brood X, which also is known as the Great Eastern Brood. However, some areas like Bergen County, N.J., have seen millions of cicadas emerge in the past couple weeks.
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And, some locations in Central Pennsylvania - notably the Williams Valley/Lykens Valley area between Tower City and the Millersburg-Halifax area - have seen large numbers of cicadas, accompanied by the trademark deafening buzz of the insects in some spots.

Greg Hoover, ornamental entomologist in Penn State's Department of Entomology and one of the leading cicada authorities in Pennsylvania, said one of the questions he's hearing most often from the media the past few days is "Why don't we have them?"

Part of the answer is the smaller nature of Brood II, but another part is that many areas no longer have "an abundance of uninterrupted woodlands" favored by periodical cicadas they once did. The third part of the answer may reside in the unseasonably cold weather just before Memorial Day, which may have held soil temperatures just below the 64 degrees Fahrenheit required to stir the cicada nymphs to leave their tunnels in the soil in search of mating opportunities.

"Some of those colder overnight temperatures may have slowed things down a bit," said Hoover.

However, he noted, areas southeast and northeast of Central Pennsylvania have seen significant emergences, hinting that "by the end of next week, the peak of the emergence will be past. We're getting close to it, if not in some of the southeastern Pennsylvania counties are past peak."

Central Pennsylvania may have one chance to yet see some emergence out of Brood II, and that chance lies in the rainfall forecast the weekend.

"A rainfall event really triggers" the full emergence," explained Hoover.

If you spot cicadas, please report your sighting to mschneck@pennlive.com.


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Pennsylvania, east to west: Has fall foliage begun?

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:00:00 UTC

2017-09-19T16:16:27Z

If you travel to take in the colors of fall leaves, you may need to make your plans for leaf-peeping earlier this year. The colors of fall are developing quickly from western Pennsylvania to the west side of Cove Mountain, which forms the northern and western edges of the Cumberland Valley as it extends west and then south from Marysville at the Susquehanna River to Yeakle Mill in southwestern Franklin County near the Mason-Dixon Line. A Sunday, September 17, drive from Somerset in southwestern Pennsylvania, east along Route 30, to Lancaster, revealed that fall foliage is advancing faster in the Allegheny Mountains and west than in the Cumberland Valley and east. While peak probably is at least a week or two away in western Pennsylvania, the vibrancy is on the rise in many spots west of the mountains. I won't be making a similar north-south drive until this weekend, which I will share next week, but reports from north of Interstate 80 indicate the fall 2017 is advancing earlier than normal there too. The premature fall colors in the northern reaches of the state have prompted the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to begin releasing its weekly fall foliage forecast this Thursday rather than next week, which would be the normal timing for the forecast. Several district foresters with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have noted that the peak of fall foliage in northern Pennsylvania could come as early as the last week of September this year. And that in turn has pushed the Bureau of Forestry in DCNR to move the starting date on its weekly fall foliage forecasts ahead by a week. "Due to lower temperatures throughout most of September and late August, the northern tier appears to be changing sooner than we originally expected," explained Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist in the bureau.  "Multiple district foresters have indicated that they could be peaking at the time of the first official report scheduled for September 28." The regional peak of fall color usually begins the first week of October across the northern tier of the state and in the Poconos. By mid-October the peak slides into a central triangular region starting around Stroudsburg, extending west through State College and expanding north and south as it continues west to Pittsburgh and Erie. And finally, in the latter half of October, southcentral and southeastern Pennsylvania sees peak color. Although weather conditions over the next few weeks will play a role in determining the fall foliage display in Pennsylvania, above-average rainfall this year has prepped the landscape for a spectacular show. "The groundwork has really been laid for fall color," said Reed. "We certainly did have a very wet summer this year," he noted of a year when little watering was needed for lawns and gardens. "It's really affected plant vigor and that set the table." The leaves are loaded with sugars, which should boost the vibrancy of fall colors. He said, Pennsylvania could be on the verge of "one of the most spectacular" shows in recent years. "The colors are going to be particularly vibrant," he said. More about fall foliage 2017: Fantastic fall foliage festivals across Pennsylvania Fall foliage peak arriving early this year Video guide to the colors of fall foliage in Pennsylvania What can Pennsylvania expect in fall foliage this year? [...]


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Fantastic fall foliage festivals across Pennsylvania

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 13:00:00 UTC

2017-09-18T13:07:44Z

The changing of leaf color is celebrated in festivals from Coudersport to Jim Thorpe to Renovo Watch video

Fall foliage will be celebrated in festivals across Pennsylvania in the coming weeks.

September 30-October 8: Farmers National Bank Autumn Leaf Festival in Clarion includes a large arts and craft show, carnival, food vendors, farmers show, parade, motorcycle show, souvenirs and more. More information about the Autumn Leaf Festival.

October 6-7: Falling Leaves Festival in Coudersport includes vendors, arts, crafts, food, farmers market, parade, live music, activities and more. More information about the Falling Leaves Festival.

October 7-8, 14-15 and 21-22: Fall Foliage Festival in Jim Thorpe includes scenic train rides; more than 35 shops, galleries and boutiques; arts and crafts fair; scarecrow contest; kids' activities; horse and carriage rides; spooky ghost walks; hayrides at Mauch Chunk Lake; and more. More information about the Fall Foliage Festival.

October 7-8 and 14-15: Bedford Fall Foliage Festival includes a lengthy list of entertainment, kids' activities and more. More information about the Bedford Fall Foliage Festival.

October 13-15: Pennsylvania State Flaming Foliage Festival in Renovo includes a food and craft show, parade, Flaming Foliage Queen Contest and more. More information about the Flaming Foliage Festival.

October 14-15: Sullivan County Fall Festival in Forksville features the Mid-Atlantic National Chainsaw Carving Competition, crafts, demonstrations, food, quilt exhibits and sales, juried art show, crafts, blacksmithing, and more. More information about the Sullivan County Fall Festival.


Media Files:
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Eat a bug, race a bug, make a bug at Penn State's Great Insect Fair

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-18T09:03:43Z

From cockroach races to cricket and chocolate-chip cookies, the annual Great Insect Fair at Penn State immerses visitors in all aspects of the insect world.




Beautiful Pennsylvania: Poe Valley State Park a cozy jewel in the wild

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-17T09:06:15Z

The 620-acre state park in Centre County is surrounding by nearly 200,000 acres of Bald Eagle State Forest Watch video

With its 25-acre lake, 45 campsites and four camping cottages, 620-acre Poe Valley State Park has been aptly described as cozy. It's a small park nestled in a deep mountain valley in Centre County, surrounded by nearly 200,000 acres of Bald Eagle State Forest.

The park, like nearby Poe Paddy State Park on Penns Creek, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The young men of the CCC, living on site in the wilderness, also built the dam across Big Poe Creek, including a breast of massive boulders, to create the lake.

Poe Valley was closed in 2008 and 2009, while the lake was drained and the dam was repaired. Facilities in the campground were upgraded and modernized at the same time.

While the lake has sunfish, pickerel and catfish, anglers are most often drawn there for the trout stocked annually by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Click here for previous installments in the Beautiful Pennsylvania series.


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What can $319,999 buy at America's Largest RV Show in Hershey?

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 13:00:00 UTC

2017-09-14T21:07:27Z

The biggest, baddest, most tricked-out, luxury motorhome in the show is equipped beyond what many of us have in our homes.

More than 45,000 visitors are expected to trek through the more than 33 football fields of recreational vehicles, motorhomes and campers at America's Largest RV Show, which runs through Sunday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Waiting for them are more than 1,300 RVs from more than 45 manufacturers.

The annual show, organized by the Pennsylvania Recreational Vehicle and Camping Association, is a combination industry/retail show, the No. 1 such show in the country. The tradeshow side of the event is No. 18 among the 250 largest tradeshows in the U.S. and Canada.

In addition to RVs ranging from small, single-room, tow-behind campers to bus-sized motorhomes selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, the show includes an array of the latest gizmos and gadgets in the camping world.

Hours for the show are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Here are looks at the show in previous years:


Media Files:
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Fall foliage peak arriving early this year in Pennsylvania

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-14T11:57:24Z

Cool temperatures are forcing leaf color changes ahead on the calendar by at least a week. Watch video

Unseasonably cool temperatures in late August and early September have pushed the fall foliage season ahead by at least a week.

Several district foresters with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have noted that the peak of fall foliage in northern Pennsylvania could come as early as the last week of September this year.

And that in turn has pushed the Bureau of Forestry in DCNR to move the starting date on its weekly fall foliage forecasts ahead by a week. The forecasts will begin Thursday, September 21, instead of September 28, which was the expected start date based on schedules in previous years.

"Due to lower temperatures throughout most of September and late August, the northern tier appears to be changing sooner than we originally expected," explained Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist in the bureau.  "Multiple district foresters have indicated that they could be peaking at the time of the first official report scheduled for September 28.

"Therefore, we've decided to move the schedule up a week to September 21. This should give folks more timely information and inform their potential travel plans."

The regional peak of fall color usually begins the first week of October across the northern tier of the state and in the Poconos. By mid-October the peak slides into a central triangular region starting around Stroudsburg, extending west through State College and expanding north and south as it continues west to Pittsburgh and Erie. And finally, in the latter half of October, southcentral and southeastern Pennsylvania sees peak color.

Although weather conditions over the next few weeks will play a role in determining the fall foliage display in Pennsylvania, above-average rainfall this year has prepped the landscape for a spectacular show.

"The groundwork has really been laid for fall color," said Reed. "We certainly did have a very wet summer this year," he noted of a year when little watering was needed for lawns and gardens. "It's really affected plant vigor and that set the table." The leaves are loaded with sugars, which should boost the vibrancy of fall colors.

He said, Pennsylvania could be on the verge of "one of the most spectacular" shows in recent years. "The colors are going to be particularly vibrant." 

The full forecast:

For an in-depth look at what Pennsylvania might expect in fall foliage 2017, check out this post.

And, here are some past recommendations for leaf-peeping:


Media Files:
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Pennsylvania wildlife park adds museum of its founder

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-13T15:39:56Z

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park near Halifax traces the story of its founder, J.R. Tobias, and its own history in the new J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center. A new museum at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park near Halifax tells the story of park founder, J.R. Tobias, and his safari park and zoo. According to the park's website, the late J.R. Tobias founded the park in 1965 on the same property at Fisherville where he was born. Through video, graphics and artifacts, the J. R. Tobias Museum and Education Center leads the visitor through Tobias's life story, the many businesses that he operated while building his park and the adventures involved in acquiring his first animals. "We officially decided to do the project nearly three years go and it has been a tedious job collecting the history and memorabilia. In writing the timeline and viewing so many photos, I discovered that Dad had quite an adventurous side to him, testing the boundaries of the norm during his early days," noted Jan Tobias-Kieffer, director of public relations and marketing and a co-owner. "I really believe the public will be fascinated by Dad's exploits - from his modest childhood, thru his military story in the Marines and time in Japan during the atomic bomb, and his ability to establish several substantial businesses while never giving up on his dream of building a zoo." In addition to the exhibits about Tobias, the museum includes displays on the conservation of wildlife; interactive stations, such as Touch & Feel and Build A Zoo; the toucan exhibit; and a 500- gallon, freshwater aquarium with vampire fish, tiger oscar, silver arowana and a jaguar stingray. The aquarium is maintained by a biological filtration system involving a 100-gallon, second aquarium under the main display. The park and museum are operating under fall hours now through October, with the park open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and the museum 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday, and on Columbus Day, Monday, October 9. According to the park website, after serving in the U.S. Marines, Tobias was self-employed his whole life, owning an excavating business, dairy, cement-block manufacturing company and a farm machinery business, while at the same time maintaining the wildlife park. Part of his unique vision for the park included the transformation of school buses into "safari cruisers" to tour the herds in open habitats, which continues to be the lasting memory that many visitors take with them after a day there. More recent innovations at the park have included custom-designed habitats for tigers and black bears in 2006, a new African lion and baboon facility in 2008, a custom-designed reptile and exotics facility in 2011l, a makeover of the food service areas in 2014, and a Safari Station in 2015. Before his death in 1996, Tobias passed the hobby-turned -business to his children, many of whom were already managing areas of the park. The death in 2010 of the eldest of the seven children, Dee Ann (Tobias) Hoffman, resulted in the current ownership of the park by the six remaining siblings and a grandson. More than 170,000 people visit the park each year. For more information, visit the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park website.  And, for more about other zoos in Pennsylvania: Pa. petting zoo welcomes baby giraffe, grandson of YouTube sensation April the giraffe Endangered black rhinoceros born at Pa. zoo Here's how treats help otters, wolves, armadillos and other animals at ZooAmerica A guide to Pennsylvania zoos [...]


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Game Commission: Mutilated bird is Canada goose, not bald eagle

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 01:41:00 UTC

2017-09-13T02:02:13Z

A wildlife conservation officer of the Pennsylvania Game Commission investigated the remains found in Cornwall Borough to determine the identity of the bird.

The mutilated remains of a large bird, originally thought to be a bald eagle or an osprey, found on Sunday afternoon along a road in Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, is a Canada goose, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

"The officer went out and found that it was not a bald eagle," said Dustin Stoner. "It was a Canada goose."

He said the mutilation, which was originally described as the removal of the bird's head, tail and feet, was the result of someone "breasting" the goose to remove just the meaty breast and tossing the rest along the road.

While bald eagles and ospreys have recovered to the point that there are more than 250 and 150 nesting pairs respectively in Pennsylvania, Canada geese are common across the state, even to the point of being nuisances in some communities.

Both bald eagles and ospreys are completely protected under state, federal and international law. Possession of bald eagle body parts, even a single feather, is prohibited for anyone other than Native Americans under specific conditions.

Canada geese enjoy no such protections and are hunted, with the early hunting season for them open now.

A hunter discarding the remains of a Canada goose along a roadway would be guilty of only a minor offense.


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Weird worm-like creatures found on Pennsylvania driveway

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-12T09:05:05Z

Startling mass of tiny larvae migrates by climbing over one another in a line that can loop back onto its own end. Watch video

A strange, undulating, ropelike mass of tiny worm-like creatures emerged recently on a walkway to a home in South Hanover Township, Dauphin County.

The tiny animals, with the rear-guard constantly climbing over those in from of them as the whole group moved about in a circular loop under the startled gaze of the homeowner, were a swarm of the larvae of one of the thousands of little-known species of dark-winged fungus gnats.

The gnats, which are no larger than a quarter-inch as winged adults, are part of one of the least studied families of flies, Sciaridae.

Most often observed in areas of rich, organic soils with heavy thatch, particularly after rains, the larvae migrate in swarms that can look like a snakeskin until it's examined closely.

When a large number of the larvae hatch from their eggs at the same time in the same spot, they form a cluster in the soil and eventually move along in a column.

A column sometimes forms into a complete circle, when the leading edge catches up to those in the rear. Very little advancement is made in any direction by the swarm until the circle snaps.

The homeowner also saw and recorded a video of the swarm moving in one long column.

The larvae feed on the roots of a wide range of plants, from lilies and geraniums to peppers and potatoes. They usually do little damage in the home landscape, but they can be a significant pest in a greenhouse or on houseplants.

More about strange insects in Pennsylvania:


Media Files:
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Mutilated body, possibly a bald eagle, found along Pennsylvania road

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 01:39:00 UTC

2017-09-12T01:40:15Z

The Pennsylvania Game Commission, with authority over birds and mammals in the state, has yet to weigh in, but the headless, legless body of a large bird appears to be that of a bald eagle, or an osprey. The mutilated remains of a bald eagle or osprey were discovered Sunday afternoon along a road in Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County. Trey Jackson, a resident of the borough, made the discovery while biking and reported it to the borough police department, confirming that the officer would forward the report to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which has authority over bird and mammal species in Pennsylvania. Police Chief Bruce Harris on Monday confirmed that an officer received the report at 4:40 p.m. and contacted the Southeast Regional Office of the Game Commission about five minutes later, but did not investigate at the scene. Phone calls and emails to commission offices did not receive a response Monday afternoon. Jackson believed he found the remains of a bald eagle. However, shown the photos and given a size description, Laurie Goodrich, director of long-term monitoring at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, said it possibly is a bald eagle, but also could be an osprey. The head, tail feathers and talons appeared to have been cut from the bird and were not at the scene, according to Jackson. He described the remains as in "pretty bad shape" with "maggots all over the body, underneath it" and some apparent scavenging damage from other animal. However, Jackson noted that the head appeared to have been removed with "too clean of a cut to be natural." Both bald eagles and ospreys are completely protected under state, federal and international law. Possession of bald eagle body parts, even a single feather, is prohibited for anyone other than Native Americans under specific conditions. Harris said he could not recall any other incidents involving or issues with bald eagles in the borough. "Once in a great while," he noted, his office hears of someone sighting one of the big birds of prey. More than 250 bald eagle pairs are believed to nest across Pennsylvania, although the Game Commission did not issue its annual early-summer tally of reported nests this year. In reporting 239 nests in July 2016 - a decline of 38 from the previous July - the commission noted that those numbers did not suggest a problem in the state's eagle population. "In no way do we believe this decreased reported number represents a decline in the bald eagle population," said Dan Brauning, who heads up the commission's wildlife diversity division. "Eagles are doing fine. They continue to thrive and expand into new areas, and the inventory shows that. "But as our field and region staff take on an increased workload due to budget-driven staffing cuts, we are forced to place lower priority on documenting nests," Brauning said. "While we're certainly still interested in learning of new nests, and urge the public to report them, knowing nesting locations and nest productivity is harder today than it was in the days following bald-eagle reintroduction, or in the years when the bald eagle remained on the endangered- or threatened-species lists. There are many pressing responsibilities that require the attention of staff." Aside from the impacts staffing cuts have had on reporting, Patti Barber, a biologist with the commission's endangered and nongame birds section, said the lower mid-year number also could be a consequence of so many eagles being out there. Many of the reports within the inventory come from citizens, and as bald eagles become more abundant and less of a novelty, fewer reports are bound to come in. Previously counted eagle pairs that relocate to a new nesting site sometimes are missed in the inventory. Even when [...]


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Elk viewing in Pennsylvania hits fall peak; web cam running

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-11T09:04:43Z

With bull elks bugling nightly and battling over their harems of cows, the Pennsylvania Elk Range in Elk, Clearfield and Cameron counties draws elk watchers from across the northeastern U.S. Watch video The peak of the Pennsylvania elk watching season has arrived, with massively antlered bulls bugling their claims and battling over harems of cows in Elk, Clearfield and Cameron counties. The activity is centered around Winslow Hill at Benezette In Elk County, although opportunities for viewing the huge animals are spread across the region. The accompanying video notes the most popular viewing sites, as well as some spots that see less visitor traffic but plenty of elk. The Pennsylvania elk range will be a popular tourist destination through the middle of October, particularly on weekends and holidays. Some of the traffic-jam conditions of those busier periods can be avoided by making the trek to the region during the week. With the start of the annual peak viewing season, the Pennsylvania Game Commission once again has launched the live-streaming elk cam through its website. The circulating camera monitors a field in an area of state game lands that is off limits to people. Cooperating with the commission in the live cam is HDOnTap and the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission. Even at times elk can't be seen on screen, bulls can be heard bugling, calves and cows send sounds back and forth, deer and turkeys tramp though the grass, birds sing and nature unfolds. For additional tips on improving an elk-viewing experience, here's the video, "Autumn, Bugles and Crowds," by Doty McDowell, an information and education supervisor with the commission. Elk, which once ranged across Pennsylvania and throughout the East, were extirpated from Pennsylvania by the late 1870s. In 1913, Pennsylvania's first shipment of 50 Yellowstone elk arrived by train for reintroduction into the state in Clinton and Clearfield counties. An additional 22 elk were bought from a Monroe County In 1915 the Game Commission bought 95 more from Yellowstone and released them into Cameron, Carbon, Potter, Forest, Blair and Monroe counties. The state's elk population slowly increased in most areas they were released in, despite illegal harvests by poachers and farmers who refused to ignore the elk ravaging their fields. Hunting seasons were held annually from 1923-31, but with declining harvests. Over the ensuing decades the elk herd in Pennsylvania also was attacked by various conditions, such as brain worm. Throughout the 1980s, the entire elk herd in Pennsylvania was just 120-150 animals. Annual mortality - elk killed by poachers, for crop damage, by dogs and cars - seemed to be offsetting reproductive gains. Then, in the 1990s, with new directions in elk management and increased habitat on public lands in the elk range, the herd began to grow. By 1993 the elk population in Pennsylvania was estimated at 224. Elk in Pennsylvania today are estimated at about a thousand. The first modern elk hunt in Pennsylvania was held in 2001.  In response to growing tourist interest in the growing elk herd, the Keystone Elk Country Alliance opened an Elk Country Visitor Center site on Winslow Hill in September 2010. The center is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily through October, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Monday in November, December, April and May, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in January through March, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m.  Here's more about the visitor center: Pennsylvania elk center expands with new purchase Elk have a home in Pennsylvania [...]


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Craighead House in Cumberland County celebrates famous naturalist brothers

Sun, 10 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-10T09:05:25Z

John and Frank Craighead Jr., who later became internationally known naturalists and were instrumental in saving the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and their sister, Jean Craighead George, author of award-winning books like "My Side of the Mountain" spent summers in their youth at the Craighead House. Watch video

The Craighead House, which is both a location near Boiling Springs in Cumberland County and an organization working to preserve that historic location, on Saturday celebrated the 85th anniversary of teenage brothers John and Frank Craighead Jr., who later became internationally known naturalists, training hawks for falconry hunting, and the 80th anniversary of their first article in National Geographic Magazine, "Adventures with Birds of Prey."

The Craigheads, who later became central figures in saving the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, spent summers in their youth at the Craighead House along the Yellow Breeches Creek, along with their sister, Jean Craighead George, author of books like "My Side of the Mountain."

As with her brothers, the hero of that book found companionship and a source of wild game in his hunting hawk.

As part of Saturday's celebration, the Craighead House hosted Margaret "The Falconry Girl" Young and her father Sean, from Berks County, with their falconry hawks. While the Craighead brothers started with Cooper's hawks, the Youngs hunt with red-tailed hawks, which they brought along to the event.

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Others providing programs at the celebration included Dusty Wissmath, fly fishing guide, instructor and author; Tom Benjay, Craighead historian; Cumberland County Master Gardeners; the Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania; Appalachian Audubon Society; and the Yellow Breeches Watershed Association.

According to Benjay, "the Rev. Thomas Craighead, a Scots-Irish Presbyterian minister from whom all Craigheads in the U. S. are descended, settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in the 1730s before it was a county of its own.

"His youngest son, John, purchased a large tract of land along the Yellow Breeches Creek in present-day South Middleton Township in the 1740s.

"A descendant of his, John Weakly Craighead, sold a right of way through the original tract to the South Mountain Railroad in 1868.

"His son, Charles, built a Victorian home adjacent to the tracks and the Yellow Breeches Creek and operated several businesses and raised his five children. It was here that his children, and after his death, his grandchildren developed their love of plants and animals. Today, a virtual army of naturalists descended from him work in various fields related to the study of nature."

Here's a collection of historic photographs of the Craigheads and the Craighead House.


Media Files:
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Your guide to the colors of fall foliage in Pennsylvania

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-09T03:08:49Z

Even from a distance, fall leaf color will allow you to make an educated guess about the species of tree you're viewing. Here's your guide, color by color.




What can Pennsylvania expect in fall foliage this year?

Thu, 07 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-07T09:05:42Z

A year of above-average rainfall across most of Pennsylvania has set the stage for the fall colors that soon will unfold.

Although weather conditions over the next few weeks will play a role in determining this year's fall foliage display in Pennsylvania, above-average rainfall has prepped the landscape for a spectacular show.

"The groundwork has really been laid for fall color," said Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist in the Bureau of Forestry in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

"We certainly did have a very wet summer this year," he noted of a year when little watering was needed for lawns and gardens. "It's really affected plant vigor and that set the table." The leaves are loaded with sugars, which should boost the vibrancy of fall colors.

The man who will be compiling the state's official weekly fall-foliage forecast this autumn believes Pennsylvania could be on the verge of "one of the most spectacular" show in recent years. "The colors are going to be particularly vibrant," he said.

A normal, seasonal cool-down, with cool nighttime temperatures and sunny days, through September and into early October would build on the foundation that's been laid and carry this year's fall foliage to a spectacular conclusion.

Optimum fall colors are produced by the normal, seasonal cool down into October of nighttime temperatures in the 30s followed by sunny days. Warmer temperatures prolong the period of green in the leaves and reduce the period of peak fall colors.

Leaf-turn "could be a little early this year, but no more than a week or so," said Reed, noting that some maples have started their change already in northern Pennsylvania, as have some staghorn sumacs and Virginia creepers farther south.

He described the staghorn sumac and Virginia creeper as "harbingers of what's to come. When I see them, I know things are starting."

The normal regional peak of fall color begins the first week of October across the northern tier of the state and in the Poconos. By mid-October the peak slides into a central triangular region starting around Stroudsburg, extending west through State College and expanding north and south as it continues west to Pittsburgh and Erie. And finally, in the latter half of October, southcentral and southeastern Pennsylvania sees peak color.

Beyond Pennsylvania's internal fall foliage zones, the state is almost perfectly situated to catch the best that autumn has to offer. Tree, shrub and vine species common to our north mingle in Pennsylvania with species common to our south. More than 130 species of trees are found in the state.

In addition, the topography of Pennsylvania varies from sea level in the southeastern corner of the state to more than 3,000 feet elevation in the Laurel Highlands.

Reed's weekly forecasts will begin Thursday, September 28.

For more about fall foliage in Pennsylvania:


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Here's how treats help otters, wolves, armadillos and other animals at ZooAmerica

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-06T13:58:03Z

To keep the animals active and engaged at ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park in Hershey, zookeepers and naturalists there provide them with a range of species-appropriate enrichments.