ENVIRONMENT

The Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbills are birds worth traveling for. Sometimes they even travel to us. Typically found on the Gulf Coast, the first time I spotted one was on a marathon birding adventure I took to south Texas in 2005. To bird far from Pittsburgh meant I’d see unfamiliar species in new…

The Allegheny River

In many ways, the Allegheny River is the centerpiece of our region. It traverses landscapes from wilderness to urban and provides recreational opportunities in many different places along its course. One of the most spectacular parts of the river is the free-​flowing 125 miles of the middle Allegheny from the…

What are “Waters of the United States”?

What are the so-​called “waters of the United States” and why did the Obama administration expand the definition? To understand that is to understand the evolution of environmental regulation in the United States and how the nation’s courts have interpreted what’s protected.

Protecting Our Streams

Determining where water begins and ends seems a matter of physical properties, of whether two hydrogen molecules are bonded to oxygen, and how much of it exists. Where is it located, and will people eventually drink it? Swim in it? Fish in it? This molecule, essential to life, has become…

Contemplating the Death of Mice

I sit in my living room on a quiet winter morning dimmed by an opaque, gray sky. I hear crunching, first thinking a squirrel is playing on my roof, or winter snow and ice is starting to slide. The intermittent sound is persistent and peculiar. I walk toward it. It…

Making Maple Syrup

What is this? — syrup, maple syrup in a quart jar, syrup my grandfather made twenty-​five years ago for the last time.

The McKeesport Kid

I had always been fascinated by birds but never thought about owning pigeons until Fred Zoerb and I began palling around together. We were neighborhood teenagers in McKeesport when one of Fred’s uncles, who raised homing pigeons, gave him a pair.

A Mountain in the Winter

People often hike through landscapes without having a real sense of the place. In the Laurel Highlands, there is an opportunity to get a “sense of place” before or after your trek, by taking advantage of a sweeping bird’s-eye view of the east flank of Laurel Hill and the Laurel…

The Cedar Waxwing

Pittsburgh has produced some renowned birders and ornithologists. Our hills and rivers attract a wide variety of birds, and they, in turn, inspire generation after generation to look to the skies — from John James Audubon, who painted the long-​extinct Passenger Pigeon while passing through the Gateway to the West (an old…

Winter Patterns

“Where, twisted round the barren oak, The summer vine in beauty clung, And summer winds the stillness broke, The crystal icicle is hung.” —From “Woods in Winter,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Pittsburgh Quarterly Readers’ Top Garden Photos

by PQ Staff
We asked our readers and the Pittsburgh community to submit photos of their gorgeous gardens and unique backyards. The results are in! Below is a selection of our favorites.

Hornets’ Nest

Anyone looking at the back of my house would see it — the lamp just outside my back door stuffed with hornet accretions, the nest shaped like a rugby ball but twice the size.

Garden Warfare

Having a vegetable garden sounds like a gentle, relaxing and easy hobby. Dig a few holes in the dirt, put a few plants in, water, and before you know it — bushels and bushels of pest-​free, perfectly ripened vegetables in the summer.

Give a Little Whistle

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,…

Seeing Autumn Through a Spider’s Web

“I had never paid much attention to spiders until a few years ago. Once you begin watching spiders, you haven’t time for much else — the world is really loaded with them. I do not find them repulsive or revolting, any more than I find anything in nature repulsive or revolting, and…
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