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Wild About PA



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



Last Build Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2017 9:16:42 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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Fear Factor Pennsylvania: Predators, mushrooms, spiders and more to test your nerve

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 09:15:00 UTC

2017-04-24T09:16:42Z

Fear Factor is returning to television on May 30, according to a recent announcement by MTV. That news reminded us that over the past couple years PennLive.com has offered several slideshows of Pennsylvania critters, fungi and plants worthy of testing any Fear Factor contestant.




Bald eagle nestlings - at 1 month - growing, developing feathers

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:38:35 UTC

2017-04-22T11:51:56Z

Nest near Hanover livestreamed through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website en route to ninth fledglings since 2005. Watch video

With their first month out of their eggs now behind them, the two bald eagle nestling have put on considerable growth and showing some developing feathers in the nest near Codorus State Park at Hanover that is livestreamed from a webcam through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website.

The eaglets hatched March 20 and 21 from eggs laid Feb. 10 and 13 respectively. Bald eagle eggs usually take 35 days to incubate.

They appear on schedule for developing eaglets, which usually grow most of their feathers at about a month, begin walking at about six weeks and start flying at about three months.

Bald eagles in Pennsylvania: amazing facts

Barring misfortune, the eaglets eventually will be the ninth clutch to fledge from the nest since 2005. The bald eagle pair typically has fledged two new eagles per year.

Last year, the female eagle laid eggs on Feb. 18 and 21. One hatched March 28, but the chick died. The other egg did not hatch.

The bald eagle pair successfully fledged two eaglets in 2015. Eggs were laid Feb. 14 and 27 that year, with hatching on March 24 and 25.

The eagle family can be viewed on a 24/7 livestream through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website.

The Hanover live stream camera has been in operation since November 2015. It is a joint project by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, HDOnTAP, Comcast Business and Codorus State Park.

Best places to see bald eagles in Pennsylvania


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Pennsylvania outdoorsman takes readers 'Inside My Life Outdoors' in new book

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:00:00 UTC

2017-04-21T15:36:48Z

Retired newspaperman Doug Dohne documents a life of hunting, fishing and more in the Pennsylvania outdoors, and beyond. Doug Dohne, retired Patriot-News copy editor, set out to chronicle his own life outdoors in his new book, "Inside My Life Outdoors." Along the way - from a stone-throwing, BB gun-toting pre-teen to a senior outdoorsman stalking the same turkey woods over decades - the book reveals that his life is the life of a generation of Pennsylvanians in love with the outdoors. Even his approach to assembling the book over four years reflects a shared attitude about the outdoors. Each year around Christmas he started writing - usually in the early morning, "while the house is quiet," he noted - and continued that process until mid-March, when the lure of spring drew him back outdoors, leading him to "put it aside until the next Christmas." The Hummelstown man said it was a process that helped him to recall the details of a lifetime of experiences, details like the more than 230 names mentioned in the 400-page book as acquaintances, guides, mentors and companions in life and in the outdoors. Dohne's tale began as a typically free-ranged, minimally supervised child of the 1950s in Palmer Township, Northampton County. He collected snakes in a glass jar, encountered a giant snapping turtle, pelted other kids with mudballs and stones, saw his bow taken from him by a police officer after he shot a rabbit in his front yard. He has the clipping from the Easton Express that reported the incident under the headline "Boy, 10, Admits Accuracy, Loses Bow to Police." Readers of that brief, police-blotter item would have been hard-pressed to predict the decades later when that boy would have grown into a hunter-angler-conservationist working for The Patriot-News, reporting on the plight of the American eel and the Susquehanna River, and crusading for the implementation of hunter education for first-time hunters. Turkey hunting - particularly near his beloved camp, Moon Valley Lodge, in Potter County - became the leading outdoor passion in Dohne's adulthood. "It's such a challenge, there in the northwoods," he explained. The turkeys "are so far removed from us up there. They're so wily... a little wilder" than turkeys in the more settled, southern part of the state, where the birds are "just so used to seeing us." Turkeys in northern Pennsylvania are "much more vigilant. They have no curiosity about us at all. If it doesn't look right, if it doesn't sound right, (they're) gone." Strong prospects foreseen for spring gobbler season 2017 Dohne and his turkey-hunting buddies will be making their 50th annual trip to northern Pennsylvania for this year's spring gobbler season, which opens for the 50th time on Saturday, April 29. He has included many of his turkey tales in the book, right from his first turkey hunt, "as we lay on the ground listening to a gobbler sound off from a safe distance." However, Dohne is a well-rounded outdoorsman, who has experienced everything from trout to saltwater, pheasant to deer, leeks to wildflower. And, in his book, he takes the reader along on a boat- and truck-killing, fishing excursion into the wilds of Ontario; a close call in a "way-over-my-head-deep" hole, while fishing for smallmouth bass in the Juniata River; a hunt for ring-necked pheasants, with their "furious and raucous" flush; a face-to-face encounter with a bear while trout fishing a small stream in northern Pennsylvania during a driving rainstorm; and dozens more adventures. A history of trout and trout fishing in Pennsylvania For Dohne, it's truly been a life outdoors and he's now shared his inside view of that life. The outdoors was the obvious choice as the focus for his autobiographical work. "I just feel better there," he explained. "I just feel more free. Even on a cloudy day, the ceiling's pretty high." Dohne's memoir is liberally illustrated throughout with photos from his out[...]


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When and how to see the Lyrid meteor shower

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:00:00 UTC

2017-04-18T13:06:02Z

This year's peak for the Lyrids on Saturday, April 22, is expected to show 10-20 meteors per hour.

The annual Lyrid meteor shower is under way, and will reach its peak in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, April 22.

While a meteor or two might be spotted any time during the shower, which will continue through April 25, as many as 10-20 per hour might be seen in the peak hours before dawn on Saturday.

A waning, crescent moon on Saturday shouldn't present much interference for viewing whatever meteors do show.

Astronomers do not expect an outburst of Lyrid meteors this year. However, meteor showers are highly unpredictable, and the Lyrid shower has produced outbursts of as many as 100 meteors per hour, the last time in 1982.

Observers should look closely at any meteors they spot. Many Lyrid meteors - about a quarter of them - leave persistent, and visible, trains of ionized gas that glows for a few seconds in the wake of the meteor.

From Earth, Lyrid meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra the Harp, for which the Lyrids are named. However, the meteors stream across the sky and often are spotted suddenly and unexpectedly, making a point of origin unnecessary in finding them.

The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the first showers ever recorded. The ancient Chinese are thought to have made note of the Lyrids in the year 687 B.C.

Lyrid meteors in history. The Lyrid meteor shower has the distinction of being among the oldest of known meteor showers. Records of this shower go back for some 2,700 years.

The Lyrids are bits of the Comet Thatcher, peeled away as the comet orbited the sun.


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Best sources for native plants for your landscape

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 13:15:00 UTC

2017-04-17T13:15:13Z

Organizations promote native plants through diverse selections at their annual native plant sales. The native plant movement continues to spread backyard to backyard, landscape to landscape, as more home owners try to make their properties more wildlife friendly and to avoid non-native invasive plants. However, the supply and variety of native plants does not always keep pace with demand. Native plant sales organized by various conservation organizations can turn that situation around. They often offer a wider selection of native plants than be found nearly anywhere else. Saturday, April 29 - Manada Conservancy 17th annual Spring Native Plant Sale, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Borough Park, Hummelstown; more information, http://www.manada.org/native-plants/native-plant-sale. Gifford Pinchot State Park Native Wildflower Sale, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Conewago Day Use Area Pavilion 2, Lewisberry; more information, https://paparksandforests.org/event/friends-of-pinchot-native-plant-sale. Lancaster Native Plant and Wildlife Festival, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Manheim Township's Overlook Park, Lancaster; more information, http://www.lancasterconservancy.org/lancaster-native-plant-wildlife-festival. Saturdays and Sundays, April 29 and 30, and May 6 and 7 - Churchville Nature Center Wildflower Sale, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., nature center, Churchville; more information, http://www.churchvillenaturecenter.org/index.php. Saturday, May 6 - Central Pennsylvania Native Plant Festival and Sale, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg; more information, http://www.shaverscreek.org/public-programs-and-events/native-plant-fest. Saturday, May 13 - Mid-Atlantic Ecological Landscapes and York Penn State Master Gardeners 21st annual Native Plant Sale, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m., York County Annex, York; more information, http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/events/york-county-native-plant-sale-2017. Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14 - Wildflower, Native Plant and Seed Sale, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Brandywine Conservancy, Chadds Ford; more information, http://www.brandywine.org/conservancy/events/wildflower-native-plant-seed-sale. Saturday, May 20 - Centre County Master Gardener Plant Sale, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Ag Progress Days site, Pennsylvania Furnace; more information, http://extension.psu.edu/plants/master-gardener/counties/centre/plant-sale. Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21 - Hawk Mountain Spring Native Plant Sale, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton; more information, http://www.hawkmountain.org/events/spring-native-plant-sale/page.aspx?id=6545. Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10 - Plant Sale at Millersville Native Plants Conference, 4-9 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, Student Memorial Center, Millersville University, Millersville; more information, www.millersvillenativeplants.org. Saturday, June 17 - Garden Tour with sale of native plugs, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Women's National Farm and Garden Association Bucks Branch, Doylestown; more information, https://www.facebook.com/events/392576177777151. [...]


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Northern lights over Pennsylvania for Easter weekend?

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 16:59:00 UTC

2017-04-14T16:59:43Z

Online buzz resurrects an Aurora Borealis forecast from 2015.

The northern lights have been a popular Internet search topic, particularly among Pennsylvanians, over the past week or so.

Interest in the Aurora Borealis appears to have been generated by the resurrection by various Facebook users of a forecast for the northern lights to be visible in Pennsylvania from November 2015.

The northern lights, which are the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere and charged particles released by the sun, did not make it as far south as Pennsylvania in 2015. A minor solar storm failed to intensify as had been expected and did not deliver enough charged particles to boost the aurora enough for viewing as far south as Pennsylvania.

Northern lights in November 2015

The strength of an aurora on Earth is measured by the Kp index. A Kp of 7 is needed to view the aurora in northern Pennsylvania, and 8 is needed for viewing in southern Pennsylvania.

The Kp in early November 2015 never passed 5, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It was enough to provide a show for sky watchers in states north of Pennsylvania.

But a solar storm in 2015 has no relevance in April 2017, regardless of how many times Facebook users link to it.

According to Aurora Service (North America), a volunteer network that monitors and forecast solar activity and northern lights, the Kp will rise no farther than 4 and will mostly remain at 2 or 3 throughout the weekend.

That will not be enough to push the show anywhere near Pennsylvania.

How to photograph the northern lights


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Tame grouse: What's up with those birds?

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 13:41:00 UTC

2017-04-14T21:26:34Z

Normally ultra-wild and hyper-wary of humans, a ruffed grouse very well will demonstrate unbelievable tameness in its approach to humans. Watch video At least a few times each year people in the forests of Pennsylvania encounter what they universally describe as a tame or friendly, ruffed grouse. The grouse - the state bird of Pennsylvania - is generally among the wildest and most human-averse birds on the landscape, but those rare, "tame" grouse seem to be thinking well outside the box for their species. Ray Faidley and his son, Jeff, encountered a seemingly friendly grouse last year and again earlier this year near their cabin in Somerset County. "It is not afraid of humans," observed Ray. "Last spring we would ride the ATV up the lane. Sometimes it would come out and peck your hat. Then it would run down the lane after the ATV. If you stopped, it would walk around the ATV and then follow you when you moved. It did it all summer. "Now it has moved to another location - same behavior. When you enter or exit the lane it will fly and peck at the truck. In (archery) season a neighbor hunting on our property said he had a grouse following him all day." Ruffed grouse study: 33 years plus While rare, the Faidleys' experience is repeated often enough that the Pennsylvania Game Commission produced a video with biologist Lisa Williams explaining it. Williams said there are two theories commonly advanced to explain the "tame" grouse. The first speculates that the birds are "a genetic throwback" to grouse pre-European settlement. "If you real the old settler accounts, they talk about grouse being very foolish," she noted. "They called them fool hens. They could actually go out and knock them out of trees." If that theory is true, most modern-day ruffed grouse have been "educated" generation after generation over the past 250 years into a healthy fearfulness of humans and are "much wilder birds" today. Williams continued, "Another theory to help explain it, which actually has a little more credence, is that these tame grouse are not tame at all, but they're hyper-territorial" and are defending their home territories. "This happens when you're out in the woods, typically someone will have an engine going or they're splitting wood, something that kind of sounds like a grouse drumming, and the bird will come running out of the woods at them. "This bird is not being friendly. It's being hyper-territorial. You can test this by reaching for it. If you reach for it, it will try to attack you." Williams said the tame-grouse phenomenon is usually short-lived and occurs mostly in the spring and fall, when the bird's "hormones are all in a flux. Once the hormones settle down and the day length changes, the tame grouse will disappear back into the woods." "Every case that I have been able to see appropriate photos, the bird is a male," noted Seth Heasley, digital media and marketing specialist with the Ruffed Grouse Society, on the society's website. "He hears what sounds like another grouse drumming and comes out to run them out of his territory." Prior "tame" ruffed grouse [...]


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Geology Day, Plein Air art event Saturday in Michaux State Forest

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:20:36 UTC

2017-04-11T17:37:35Z

After massive graffiti clean-up at Hammonds Rocks, Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation plans to share the results.

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation will showcase the work of its Graffiti Busters volunteers at Hammonds Rocks in Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County, with A Geology Day and Plein Air Art in the Outdoors Day on Saturday, April 15, at the rocks.

The Graffiti Busters last year took on an estimated 6,500 square feet of defacing paint at Hammonds Rocks in the foundation's first attack on a hit-list of 37 graffiti-battered hotspots in state forests across the state.

Graffiti-covered sites across Pennsylvania

Geology Day, from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., will feature a geology walk presented by Sean Cornell, associate professor of geology at Shippensburg University; an historical interpretation by local historian Andre Weltman; and hands-on learning stations covering topics from sediment transport to mineral samples.

The foundation's second Plein Air Art in the Outdoors event will follow from 1-3 p.m.

For the event, artists are invited to carry their easels, paints and canvas, or cameras, to Hammonds Rocks to capture the natural beauty.

"Nature inspires art, but we prefer to see paint on canvas, not 500 million year old rock," said Marci Mowery, president of the foundation.

First Plein Air at Hammonds Rocks

Launched in 1999, the nonprofit foundation provides a voice and support for the state's 120 state parks and 2.2 million acres of state forest. Among the foundation's programs is a network of about 40 friends groups at state parks across the state.

To reach Hammonds Rocks, take Cold Springs Road from Pine Grove Furnace State Park at Gardners and turn right (east) onto Ridge Road.


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Bullied bald eagle chick misses family meal in Hanover nest

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-04-07T09:05:11Z

As the two chicks grow more mobile and independent, they are squabbling more in the nest at Codorus State Park monitored by a livestreaming webcam of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Watch video

The two chicks in the bald eagle nest at Codorus State Park near Hanover are growing fast and developing a rivalry that regularly breaks out in pecks and beak snaps at each other.

Their bullying exchanges late Thursday resulted in one of the chicks missing a family meal of fish, choosing instead to remain hunkered down in the bottom of the nest after being pecked fiercely by its nestmate.

The chick later received a feeding of some of the leftovers from one of the parent birds.

Surprising facts about bald eagles in Pennsylvania

The eaglets hatched March 20 and 21 from eggs laid Feb. 10 and 13 in the nest monitored by a webcam livestreaming through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website.

Bald eagles have nested near Codorus State Park since 2005 and fledged eaglets eight times, usually two per year, according to the commission.

Last year, the female eagle laid eggs on Feb. 18 and 21. One hatched March 28, but the chick died. The other egg did not hatch.

The bald eagle pair successfully fledged two eaglets in 2015, the first year that the livestream from the nest ran on the commission's website.

The Hanover livestream camera has been in operation since November 2015. It is a joint project by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, HDOnTAP, Comcast Business and Codorus State Park.

Best places to see bald eagles in Pennsylvania


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2nd bald eagle egg of the season hatches in Pittsburgh region

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 15:28:32 UTC

2017-04-05T15:29:01Z

The fuzzy grey eaglet at the Harmar Township nest is too small to be seen on the nest cam right now, but it should grow large enough to see in about one week.

Another bald eagle egg has hatched in southwest Pennsylvania.

The hatch at the Harmar Township bald eagles' nest makes for two baby eagles in the Pittsburgh region this year. Eagles in Hays welcomed a chick last week after losing their nest at the start of the season.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania determined the Harmar egg had hatched after seeing adults rip food into small pieces before leaning over to feed the baby bird. The fuzzy grey eaglet is too small to be seen on the nest cam right now, but it should grow large enough to see in about one week.

The Harmar Township bald eagles laid the egg Feb. 27. Their nest is near Route 28 just northeast of the Pittsburgh city limits.

In central Pennsylvania, the eagles at Codorus State Park hatched two eggs this season.

Watch the live nest cam online at www.aswp.org. The webcam is owned by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania and is supported by Comcast Business.

Check out more Pittsburgh coverage on PennLive. 

Bald eagles in Pennsylvania: You might be surprised by the facts


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Ready for the Full Pink Moon of April?

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 14:00:00 UTC

2017-04-05T14:03:54Z

Reaching peak on April 11, it's also known as the Egg Moon and the Fish Moon

The Full Pink Moon will rise on Tuesday, April 11, but don't expect to see any unusual coloring on the lunar surface.

The full moon of April is the Pink Moon because that's one of the names given to it by Native Americans.

And, the name is more about an event right here on Earth than anything in the heavens. The full moon of April tends to occur as the pink flowers of wild ground phlox comes into bloom. It's one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring.

Other Native American names for the full moon of April include Egg Moon because so many birds will soon be laying eggs, Fish Moon because aquatic migrations around under way in rivers and Sprouting Grass Moon because the grass is sprouting.

Native Americans were more attuned to the timing of the natural world than any manmade calendar. Time was measured by day-to-day observations of the occurrences as the seasons passed.

The peak full moon this month will occur at 2:08 a.m. April 11, but it will appear full from April 10-12.


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Unruly bald eagle chicks challenging mom and dad's authority

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:30:00 UTC

2017-03-31T14:46:59Z

Bald eagle family livestreamed by webcam from their nest near Codorus State Park at Hanover. Watch video

Nearing two weeks since breaking free from their eggs, the two baby bald eagles are growing more persistent in expressing their wants and needs in the nest near Codorus State Park at Hanover that is livestreamed from a webcam through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website.

The plans of a parent bird, such as corralling the two small balls of fluff under it for some quiet time, are meeting with some resistance from the eaglets, particularly when the young birds would rather continue feeding on bits of fish from their parent.

Bald eagles in Pennsylvania: You might be surprised

The eaglets, which hatched Monday and Tuesday, March 20 and 21, from eggs laid Feb. 10 and 13 respectively, appear to be growing nicely and thriving under the constant care of the adult birds.

Bald eagles have nested near Codorus State Park since 2005 and fledged eaglets eight times, usually two per year, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Last year, the female eagle laid eggs on Feb. 18 and 21. One hatched March 28, but the chick died. The other egg did not hatch.

The bald eagle pair successfully fledged two eaglets in 2015, the first year that a livestream from the nest ran on the commission's website.

Where are your best chances to see bald eagles in Pennsylvania?

The eagle family can be viewed on a 24/7 livestream through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website.

Barring misfortune, the eagle family will be watchable for at least the next three months. Eaglets grow most of their feathers at about a month and begin walking at about six weeks. They will start flying at about three months.

The Hanover live stream camera has been in operation since November 2015. It is a joint project by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, HDOnTAP, Comcast Business and Codorus State Park.

Another Pennsylvania bald eagle nest on camera


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When will hummingbirds return to Pennsylvania?

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:00:00 UTC

2017-03-29T15:02:38Z

National hummingbird-tracking website sees the leading edge of the ruby-throated hummingbird's northward migration approaching Pennsylvania.

The leading edge of the northward hummingbird migration has entered West Virginia and Virginia, with plenty more of the tiny birds hot on their tails in North Carolina and farther south.

According to www.hummingbirds.net, which has been tracking the annual northward migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds since 1996, the birds will continue north toward Pennsylvania and other northern destinations at about 20 miles per day.

That should bring the first of them - likely males, which migrate ahead of the females by about 10 days - into southern Pennsylvania within the next week or so.

According to the website, which annually maps first-hummer reports from more than 7,000 people, the first birds usually arrive back in Pennsylvania around April 9 or 10, but have been recorded as early as March 20.

Hummingbird questions for later this year

Their arrival in Pennsylvania may coincide with the first hummingbird-type flowers coming into bloom, but if they get here before adequate flowers are in bloom they will find other sources of nectar, such as oozing holes drilled into trees by sapsuckers and hummingbird feeders.

With the ruby-throat's impending arrival, backyard birders in Pennsylvania will want to clean and fill their hummingbird feeders.

Banding studies indicate that many hummingbirds will return to the same sites they departed late last summer or fall, and even visit the same feeders. If they find ready nectar sources, the birds are likely to re-establish their territories from last year.

Having ample feeders ready when the birds arrive also can be a means to attracting additional hummingbirds to settle in an area.

If the food then continues to be available in those established territories throughout the summer, they have little incentive to look for new spots to take nectar and insects.

Feeders that go up in June or July, when a homeowner begins thinking about summer visitors like hummingbirds, likely will be too late to attract their attention.

In addition to getting the feeders in operation within the next week or so, those wanting to attract more hummingbirds to their backyards this year might want to add red to their landscape at the same time.

That can be accomplished with plants that flower early, with artificial red-flowered plants or even with red plastic sheets.

Red is a very attractive color to hummingbirds and could help to lead them to feeders when they are establishing their territories.


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Bald eagle pair welcomes chick after losing nest, 2 eggs earlier this season

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:50:16 UTC

2017-03-29T13:50:47Z

The Hays bald eagles in Pittsburgh have welcomed an eaglet after a rough start to the breeding season destroyed their nest and the pair lost two eggs.

The Hays bald eagles have welcomed an eaglet after a rough start to the breeding season destroyed their nest and the pair lost two eggs.

Strong winds topped their original nesting tree on Feb. 12, just two days after the female laid her first egg of the season. Her second egg would have come two to four days later and was likely expelled without a new nest. The pair built a new nest in less than one week, and a new egg was confirmed Feb. 20.

Officials with the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania did not want to interfere with the process, so the nest cam remained in its initial location and only shows an obstructed view of the birds' new nest about 200 yards away. Birdwatchers have relied on observation of the eagles' behaviors to determine nest activity.

Audubon announced the hatch after seeing the adults bring food to the nest, rip it into smaller pieces and leaning over in the nest. All of these habits indicate the birds are feeding their young.

The Hays nest is on the south side of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River. About 11 miles away, the Harmar Township bald eagles laid an egg Feb. 27. It is also expected to hatch this week. View the Harmar nest cam here.

In central Pennsylvania, the Hanover eagles have two chicks that appear healthy.

Check out more Pittsburgh coverage on PennLive. 

Where are your best chances to see bald eagles in Pennsylvania?


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Pennsylvania's elk center site expands with new purchase

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 17:25:59 UTC

2017-03-25T17:38:03Z

Key part of Pennsylvania Elk Range adds nine acres important elk habitat. Watch video

The Keystone Elk Country Alliance has added nine acres to its Elk Country Visitor Center site on Winslow Hill near Benezette in Elk Country.

The KECA already had 245 acres at the 8,400-square-foot visitor center in the heart of the Pennsylvania Elk Range, complete with trails, foodplots and elk-viewing areas.

However, the additional nine acres are an important expansion to the site. It is covered with white pine and hemlock, with an overstory of oak and hickory; has two small mountain streams; and has not been impacted by mining, as so much of the region has been.

 "Elk that frequent the (visitor center) forage plots and the elk viewing areas often bed on this property," noted Rawley Cogan, president of the KECA.

"Elk use of this property is very high during the rut, especially when temperatures are high and conditions are dry.  Oftentimes warm dry weather occurs in early fall and that is when elk use of this habitat type is extremely high.  With the cool conditions provided by the thick conifers often referred to as 'black timber' by elk hunters, because little if any sunlight reaches the forest floor. And the cold mountain streams provide much needed water during this high activity period."

Best spots to see elk in Pennsylvania

The KECA used money raised through the annual Elk Tag Raffle to buy the nine acres. The raffle, held each August during the annual Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo, offers a prize package of a conservation elk-hunting license from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, a taxidermy shoulder mount, a six-day fully guided hunt including meals and lodging from Elk County Outfitters and filming of the hunt for the national TV show TomBob Outdoors: Friends in Wild Places.

Opened in September 2010, the visitors center is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in January through March, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Monday in April and May, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily June through October, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Monday in November and December.

Pennsylvania Elk Expo 2.0


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