Born in 1959, Scott Weidensaul (pronounced "Why-densaul") has lived almost all of his life among the long ridges and endless valleys of eastern Pennsylvania, in the heart of the central Appalachians, a landscape that has defined much of his work.

©Amiran WhiteHis writing career began in 1978 with a weekly natural history column in the local newspaper, the Pottsville Republican in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, where he grew up. The column soon led a fulltime reporting job, which he held until 1988, when he left to become a freelance writer specializing in nature and wildlife. (He continued to write about nature for newspapers, however, including long-running columns for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Harrisburg Patriot-News.)

 Weidensaul has written more than two dozen books, including his widely acclaimed Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds (North Point 1999), which was a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize.

His newest book, The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery and Endurance in Early America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012) tells the ambitious story of the earliest contacts between Natives and Europeans along the Eastern seaboard - two and half centuries of conflict and coexistence that forever shaped what would become America.

Other recent titles include Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul (North Point 2005), an ambitious journey to take the pulse of America's wildlife and wildlands; and Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding (Harcourt 2007) which traces 400 years of ornithological history.

Weidensaul's writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including Audubon (for which he is a contributing editor), Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife, among many others. He lectures widely on conservation and nature, and directs the ornithological programs for National Audubon's famed Hog Island Center on the coast of Maine.

In addition to writing about wildlife, Weidensaul is an active field researcher whose work focuses on bird migration. Besides banding hawks each fall (something he's done for nearly 25 years), he directs a major effort to study the movements of northern saw-whet owls, one of the smallest and least-understood raptors in North America. He is also part of a continental effort to understand the rapid evolution, by several species of western hummingbirds, of a new migratory route and wintering range in the East.