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Coyotes, falcons, and beavers — oh my!
Exploring the nature of Philly with Mike Weilbacher’s Wild Philly
Whether you listen to WXPN’s Kids’ Corner with your little ones or to nurture your inner child, you’ve likely heard Mike "the all-natural science guy" Weilbacher playing Science Potpourri with host Kathy O’Connel or taking random science questions from kids of all ages.
Weilbacher, who has been a feature on the popular program since 1988, is the Executive Director of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education—and is the author of the recently released Wild Philly, part of a series by Timber Press that joins Wild Miami and Wild LA.
Taking wild turns
Weilbacher, an environmental educator for over 40 years, will share what he learned while working on the book with Philly audiences at various events in the area this spring. This coming week is the official Wild Philly launch at the Schuylkill Center on Thursday, March 30, and a book talk at Narberth Book Store on Saturday, April 1.
Whether you’re already an avid hiker, bird watcher, or overall nature lover or someone who’s just getting curious about spending time outdoors, Weilbacher promises that Wild Philly will help you discover new things about the animal and plant life that surrounds us throughout the region.
“There are 25 different hikes in the book … some are tough and some are easy,” he explains. “If you want to start with something that’s not too challenging, you could start out on one walk that begins in Bala Cynwyd, takes you over a bridge in Manayunk where you get a magnificent view of the river and then end up at St. John’s Church where Peregrine Falcons—the fastest member of the animal kingdom—are nesting in steeples.”
Weilbacher details signs of animal life around us that many of us walk right by: falcons, coyotes, and the return of the beaver to the area. Another special feature of the book is the seasonal guide to visiting certain trails. For example, Weilbacher recommends visiting Bowman’s Hill wildflower preserve in New Hope sometime between Earth Day and Mother’s Day when you'll see “more wildflowers than you’ve ever seen in your life.”
Getting out in nature—anywhere and everywhere, including taking a walk to really notice the flora and fauna on your own street is simply good for you, Weilbacher says. “Your blood pressure will be so happy.”
In Wild Philly, Weilbacher also addresses threats to the region’s environment, including climate change and invasive species. The book is activist-oriented and includes 25 ways that you can help nature and even a whole chapter on citizen science projects to try out.
Despite serious threats to nature, Weilbacher’s research for the book makes him feel hopeful. “What I see here is the capacity for nature to recover. It’s the abandoned industrial sites, the ruins of locks and canals that are now becoming ‘Wild Philly.’”
What, When, Where
Wild Philly. By Mike Weilbacher. Portland: Timber Press, February 28, 2023. 368 pages, paperback; $25.99. Get it here.
Wild Philly book launch with Mike Weilbacher. Thursday, March 30, 2023, 6pm, at Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy's Mill Road, Philadelphia. (215) 482-7300 or schuylkillcenter.org
Wild Philly book talk with Mike Weilbacher. Saturday, April 1, 2023, at Narberth Bookshop, 221 Haverford Ave, Narberth. (610) 664-1112 or narberthbookshop.com.
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