It’s not until chapter 10 of Harper Lee’s famous novel that we are told of the magic of mockingbirds. Atticus Finch, lawyer and father extraordinaire, says, “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Benevolent Miss Maudie explains, “Mockingbirds don’t do…

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  • Issue Quarter Fall
  • Issue Year 2017
  • Sub Heading The mockingbird fills the forest with its own mash-​up music
A bird on fire, a male scarlet tanager perched just above my eye level. He was in a tree at the edge of the Upper Fields Trail at Fox Chapel’s Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve. Normally high in the forest canopy gleaning insects in spring and summer, this avian migrant, roughly robin size, had…

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  • Issue Quarter Between the Issues
  • Issue Year 2017
  • Sub Heading A flash of brilliance in the trees
One spring, I ventured south to Savannah, Georgia, for some sun and warmth. As a coastal locale and part of the Atlantic flyway, it was rich with avifauna heading back to nesting territories farther north in places like western Pennsylvania. It was March, and the streets of that wonderful city were alive with…

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  • Issue Quarter Spring
  • Issue Year 2017
  • Sub Heading Keep watch for this sign of spring
Winter puts birders in a different mood. There are birds about, but they are fewer and generally more muted — focused on finding food, staying warm and getting through. The birds that stick around for a Pittsburgh winter are hardier, more committed, the stalwarts. They are the loyalists of cold.

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  • Issue Quarter Winter
  • Issue Year 2017
  • Sub Heading A welcome splash of red in winter
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