NOTE: Phipps is open for your visit. All tickets must be purchased in advance, and safety protocols must be followed. Learn more about how you can join us!

#bioPGH Blog: Connecting to Nature on Tougher Days, Even from Indoors
Apr 30

#bioPGH Blog: Connecting to Nature on Tougher Days, Even from Indoors

By Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas, Research and Science Education Outreach Manager

Biophilia NetworkA resource of Biophilia: Pittsburgh, #bioPGH is a weekly blog and social media series that aims to encourage both children and adults to reconnect with nature and enjoy what each of our distinctive seasons has to offer. 

Subscribe to Posts Via Email


We all respond to stressful situations in different ways, and right now, our world is full of stressors most of us could not have imagined only two months ago. The outdoor beauty of nature can provide a wonderful respite for all of this, but sometimes being outside in nature is just not possible. Whether because of logistics, location, or just a sense being overwhelmed, sometimes we cannot make it to that favorite green spot. If that describes how you are feeling right now, first of all, I am so grateful you are choosing these moments with us at Phipps and I do not take that for granted. Secondly, I wanted to share a few ideas of you can connect to nature on those tougher days without even leaving your house.

Live Webcams of Wondrous Places
If you can’t make it outside to the wild world, bring the wild world to you! Live nature webcams can boost your spirits and maybe provide some entertainment, depending on what you’re watching. I particularly like — it has a huge bank of webcams from a variety of locations and habitats. One of my favorite webcams available through them features Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park because you have such a good chance of seeing the famous Katmai brown bears! Another favorite is OrcaLab in British Columbia — their nine cameras provide a good chance of spotting killer whales! With beaches, forests, rivers, and almost any habitat type you can imagine, you are sure to find something interesting. Locally, of course, we also have the Hays nest camera, and the bald eagle chicks are wonderfully scruffy-looking at this age!

Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park


Plant Something Small for a Window
With everything going on right now, it may feel overwhelming to think of filling your entire landscape. That is ok! Be kind to yourself. If you happen to have a small pot and some soil, perhaps plant a few seeds for a windowsill to simply enjoy the wonder of watching something grow. About four weeks ago, I planted a few pieces of potato in small pots and set them in a window just for fun. It’s been such a peaceful, simple pleasure to watch my little plants change quite literally every day. I probably won’t get a bowl of mashed potatoes from them, but there is something reassuring and familiar about watching the tiniest of sprouts grow into a proper little plant right in my living room window.


Mesmerizing Short Films
The name “National Geographic” is practically synonymous with stunning imagery, and they have a number of botanically-themed time-lapse short films that are visual delights and accompanied by calming music.


Music to Your Ears
Maybe your eyes need a rest, so why not use your ears to help you mellow? The National Park Service has a large collection of sounds found in the National Parks, from wildlife to rushing water to avalanches! The recordings serve an important role in scientific soundscape research but they can also be enjoyed by all of us at home right now. Alternatively, if you have a particular interest (birds, amphibians, mammals, etc.), Cornell University’s Macaulay Library is a fantastic resource for a variety of wildlife sounds recordings. You can search by species or by region to find whatever bird song or lion’s roar fits your mood.

However you choose to connect to the wild outdoors from home, I hope it lifts your spirits and inspires your imagination. The world won’t be this upside down forever, and in the meantime, thank you for choosing to explore with us today.

Continue the Conversation: Share your nature discoveries with our community by posting to Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #bioPGH, and R.S.V.P. to attend our next Biophilia: Pittsburgh meeting.

Photo credits: Header, Maria Wheeler-Dubas; Cover, public domain. Headphones photo, public domain. Katmai photo, public domain.