A Guide for All Four SeasonsBernard S. Brown
Illustrations by Samantha Wittchen
Do snakes and salamanders fascinate you or make you squeamish? Have you ever listened closely to the birds chirping in your neighborhood? Can you identify the flowers growing in Philadelphia’s urban parks? (Moreover, are the mushrooms safe to eat?) Exploring Philly Nature is amateur naturalist, urban herper,* and Grid contributor Bernard Brown’s handy guide to experiencing the flora and fauna in Philly.
This compact illustrated volume contains 52 activities from birding, (squirrel) fishing, and basement bug-hunting to joining a frog call survey and visiting a mussel hatchery. Brown encourages kids (as well as their parents) to connect with the natural world close to home. Each entry contains information on where and when to participate, what you will need (even if it is only patience), and tips on clubs and organizations to contact for access.
The city and its environs contain a multitude of species from the lichen that grows on gravestones or trees to nocturnal animals like opossums, bats, and raccoons. Exploring Philly Nature is designed to get readers eager to discover, observe, and learn more about the concrete jungle that is Philadelphia.
*people who recreationally seek out reptiles and amphibians
“Exploring Philly Nature is a charming guide to the natural resources of the Greater Philadelphia region. Brown offers fun hands-on opportunities for exploration and study, whether at home, in the street, or in one of Philadelphia’s fabulous metro-area parks and preserves. Season by season, Brown guides the reader through the whole tapestry of urban nature. Under his guidance, eagles, fireflies, street rats, roadkill, and more provide an opportunity for people of all ages to experience the joy of inquiry, adventure, and discovery.”
—Maura McCarthy, PhD, Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy
“No one knows Philly like Billy Brown. He has stuck his nose into
every corner of the city in search of wildlife and now has compiled
what he has learned and shared it here for the benefit of all. The result is a masterful book that any novice or pro can use to begin exploring Philadelphia in a whole new way, while still making discoveries of their own. The tone of the book makes it accessible, approachable, and useful for layperson and expert alike, whether you’re searching for bald eagles, scarce plants and wildflowers, butterflies, or even slime molds. Brown draws on his years of experience and his network of Philly naturalists to create a great guide to exploring and understanding how Philly functions both as an ecosystem and a place where still many discoveries remain to be made. Brown shows how using nature as a filter for how we view Philadelphia changes how we see it, making you cherish it all the more.”
—George Armistead, cofounder of BirdPhilly and author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of Pennsylvania
“Exploring Philly Nature is a portal to the everyday natural world found in every corner of Philadelphia. It is a wonderful guide to explore nature, from the cracks in our sidewalks to widely known places like the Wissahickon to lesser known natural gems in area neighborhoods. A marvelous resource for every nature enthusiast, it is a must for parents, guardians, teachers, and others to share the ‘sense of wonder’ of nature with kids. Brown includes a thoughtful ‘kids’ note in each profile as a guide to teach the young—and young at heart—that the joys of nature are all around us.”
—Leigh Altadonna, EdD, President of the Wyncote Audubon Society
"The book is an excellent stimulant for parents who want to show their children how to discover the living creatures that occupy the space and byways close to home, whether in an urban area such as Philadelphia or any of the thousands of smaller communities across the state."