Panther Hollow Lake on Hold
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
9m ago
Panther Hollow Lake flooded with ice, 25 Feb 2022 (photo by Kate St. John) 30 November 2022 Panther Hollow Lake in Schenley Park has had problems for decades but there was hope they would be solved by an ambitious 2016 plan to rehab the lake and daylight Four Mile Run downstream. Unfortunately the plans were so ambitious that they had to be put on hold this month. The lake’s problems are legion. It is really only the size of a pond and is filled with sediment. The shallow water cannot replenish fast enough so algae blooms in summer; sometimes fish die. Its unnatural concrete edges prohibit lak ..read more
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The Largest Living Organism is Dying of Deer
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
21h ago
Pando in October snow, 2021 (photo by Beth Moon via Flickr Creative Commons license) 29 November 2022 In 1976 Jerry Kemperman and Burton Barnes discovered that 106 acres of quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides) in the Fishlake National Forest of Utah were actually all the same male plant, one root with thousands of suckers that grew into trees. It came to be known as Pando — “I spread.” Quaking aspen, Pando, in fall (photo from Wikimedia Commons) Pando weighs 6,600 tons making it the heaviest known organism on Earth and it is very old, though no one is sure whether it’s 10,000 or 80,000 or ..read more
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Greater and White-Fronted
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
2d ago
Greater white-fronted geese from Crossley ID Guide to Eastern Birds (image form Wikimedia Commons) 28 November 2022 Over the Thanksgiving weekend 6 greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons) showed up in western Pennsylvania — four in Lawrence County and two in Armstrong County. Though they breed in the arctic around the world, the North American population stays west of the Mississippi. These geese are rare in Pennsylvania. Range map of greater white-fronted goose embedded from allaboutbirds.org Their “greater” and “white-fronted” adjectives don’t make much sense unless you know the specie ..read more
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More or Less Drought
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
3d ago
Ranking the states by average percentage of land in drought, 2000-to-March-2021 (original map from Wikimedia Commons colored by Kate St. John) 27 November 2022 The western U.S. has always been drier than the east but as climate change heats up the planet, drought has become more prevalent. NOAA’s quarterly weather outlooks now include a 3-month drought prediction along with temperature and precipitation forecasts. Some places are more likely to experience drought than others. Which states are more likely? Which are least? The graphic above is based on Stacker’s article, States With the Worst D ..read more
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Late November Birds at Duck Hollow
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
4d ago
Ring-billed gull and common merganser, Duck Hollow, 23 Nov 2022 (photo by Charity Kheshgi) 26 November 2022 This week Charity Kheshgi and I saw ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis), a common merganser (Mergus merganser) and a few pied-billed grebes (Podilymbus podiceps) at Duck Hollow. All three species visit the Monongahela River in November when freshwater freezes up north. Pied-billed grebe in silhouette, Duck Hollow, 23 Nov 2022 (photo by Charity Kheshgi) The common merganser gave us an opportunity to mentally compare her field marks to a similar bird. Here are some tips. Female common a ..read more
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Pumpkin Day Number 2
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
6d ago
24 November 2022 Today is the second pumpkin festival of the year that celebrates this cultivar of the New World squash Cucurbita pepo. On Halloween we carve pumpkins. On Thanksgiving we eat them. Pumpkin flowers (photo from Wikimedia Commons)Pumpkin pie (photo from Wikimedia Commons) I am very fond of pumpkin pie. It’s a good excuse to eat lots of whipped cream. Happy Thanksgiving! Pumpkin pie slice smothered in whipped cream (photo from Wikimedia Commons) (photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals ..read more
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Wild Turkey Fight?
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
1w ago
Wild turkey male, strutting (photo from Wikimedia Commons) 23 Nov 2022 Wild turkeys are ancestors of the domestic turkeys we eat on Thanksgiving. Most wild turkeys avoid humans but in rare instances a male becomes aggressive toward people. It’s because they are social birds. Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) flocks have a social structure called a pecking order that’s especially important during the breeding season in March to May. Dominant males puff and strut and confront other males to maintain their own dominance. If a subordinate gets out of line the dominant turkey struts and gobbles at ..read more
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Watch Your Feeders For Two Rare Birds
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
1w ago
Evening grosbeak, January 2013 (photo by Steve Gosser) 21 November 2022 In September the Finch Research Network’s Winter Finch Forecast predicted that evening grosbeaks and pine siskins would irrupt southward this winter. In the past week Pennsylvania Rare Bird Alerts reported 55 sightings of evening grosbeaks and 11 of pine siskins in the state. Some are in western Pennsylvania right now and both are seed-eaters so you might see them at your feeders. Here’s what to look for. Evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) Evening grosbeaks are big bulky finches, larger than northern cardinals ..read more
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Did You Sleep Enough?
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
1w ago
The Nap (painting by Jan Verhas, 1879) 20 November 2022 Last week as I walked past a team of Allegheny Goatscape goats munching invasive plants in Schenley Park, I noticed a sign that described their sleep cycles. The goats, who are guarded by a donkey, sleep 5 hours in a 24-hour day. The donkey sleeps only 3 hours. Imagine being able to function normally on so little sleep! Goats and guard donkey at Frick Park in Aug 2020 (photo by Kate St. John) Some animals sleep less than we do, some sleep more. We humans, who average 8 hours per day, are well aware of our pets’ sleep cycles. Cats sleep 12 ..read more
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Seen This Week
Outside My Window
by Kate St. John
1w ago
Burning bush leaf and fruit, 15 Nov 2022 (photo by Kate St. John) 19 November 2022 On Tuesday morning, 15 November, I took a walk and found beautiful fruits: Red berries on invasive burning bush (Euonymus alatus), purple berries on native American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and dusty blue fruit on invasive English ivy (Hedera helix). American beautyberry, 15 Nov 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)English ivy berries, 15 Nov 2022 (photo by Kate St. John) It began to snow so I hurried home and was glad to be indoors when it came down fast, though peaceful slow motion (two speeds in this video ..read more
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