Author Katie Fallon, with vulture Boris, comes to Eastern Mennonite University on March 23 as part of the Writers Read series. She will share from her book "Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird.' Fallon is co-founder of the non-profit Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia. (Courtesy photos)

Katie Fallon, author of books on vultures and cerulean warblers, shares tales from her avian-centered travels

Katie Fallon’s first word was “bird.” Her nonfiction essays and books, which Fallon will share at an Eastern Mennonite University Writers Read event on March 23, focus on nature and conservation.

The reading will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Common Grounds, with light refreshments available.

Her first book, Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird (Ruka Press) was published in 2011. The second, Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird (University Press of New England), was published this year.

Lew, with author Katie Fallon, at the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia.

In Vulture, Fallon travels through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona and India to care for and observe this “often unloved though vitally important – and uniquely beautiful – bird.”

“Her writing combines a wonderful lyricism with good science journalism. She’s not afraid to get personal in her pursuit of her birds,” says Professor Kirsten Beachy.

Fallon is co-founder of the non-profit Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia. Along with her veterinarian husband Jesse, two other board members, an intern and volunteers, the organization provides medical response for injured birds, hosts educational bird workshops for children and sponsors citizen scientific research projects. Her workshops feature six raptor “ambassadors” that cannot be released into the wild because of previous wounds.

The author first visited EMU in 2013, when she presented Cerulean Blues, “about the Cerulean Warbler, which is a jewel-like migratory songbird whose habitat is threatened by strip-mining in Appalachia,” says Beachy. “Just a precious little bird, one with which it is easy to sympathize.”

Beachy and Fallon studied together at West Virginia University (WVU) in the MFA in creative writing program.

Fallon has taught a “Writing Appalachian Ecology” class at WVU since 2012. The course takes students to the Fernow Experimental Forest near Parsons, where they learn to communicate scientific research to a broad audience and reflect on ecological change and their relationship with the environment.

She has also taught creative writing workshops at WVU and Virginia Tech since 2009.