Pittsburgh Quarterly Contributors
David Liebmann

David Liebmann

David Liebmann is an educator who has birded throughout the country.

The Great Migration Begins

Across the sky, everything is moving. Fall migration actually begins in August when the first waves of long-​distance travelers begin to push south.

King of the Woodpeckers

The pileated woodpecker burst out of nowhere just as I thought my students’ field exam was over. As soon as we were aware of it materializing from the canopy of a tree on a green at the Pittsburgh Field Club, it flew like a black bolt into denser woods and disappeared again. A…

Look for the Canada Warbler

Imagine you’ve somehow found yourself in Ecuador. You desperately want to get to Pittsburgh. You weigh a third of an ounce. You can fly. You’re a Canada Warbler.

Be Alert for a Fast and Active Winter Visitor

I was walking where the paved road turns to dirt at Hartwood Acres one winter day. The trees were creaking with cold. Dry leaves were tinged with a dusting of snow. The sky, all gray. Suddenly, there was a bird, small, moving fast. It landed on a sapling no more than 10 feet…

A Century of Protecting Birds

My great-​grandfather Samuel Feins emigrated from the Old Country, in his case, Russia, in 1899. He came through Ellis Island and then quickly made his way to Massachusetts. Fifteen years later he was firmly established as the proprietor of the New Hat Frame Company of 5563 Summer Street, Boston. He was a milliner,…

The Elusive and Beautiful Green Heron

The green heron lay cradled in the crook of Bob Mulvihill’s arm like a baby, or at least that’s how I remember it. He blew on the bird’s belly and a cloud of powder down swirled forth, an adaptation that in all likelihood adds some moisture-​shedding resistance to the wing feathers of this…

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 habitats. The spoonbills…

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 moniker for our…

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, “Mockingbirds don’t do…

The Scarlet Tanager

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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