University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 2/1996
Making a career out of birds, bats and butterflies

     The life of backyard wildlife specialist Scott Shalaway,
Delaware '74, has been anything but dull. Shalaway has parlayed
his extensive knowledge of commonly found creatures into a
multifaceted career that includes publishing four books, writing
a weekly column that appears in 20 newspapers and producing and
hosting a radio show.
     Shalaway learned to appreciate nature while growing up in
southeastern Pennsylvania.
     "I was an outdoor kid," he recalls. "It was rural and there
weren't many kids around. I was out roaming the fields all the
time, collecting things, like turtles and frogs, and I ended up
making a career out of it."
     When he came to Delaware, Shalaway took a course with Roland
Roth, who was then a new professor in the entomology department
in the College of Agricultural Sciences. "I thought, 'Here's a
guy who made a career studying birds. Maybe I could do that,'"
Shalaway says. So, he studied ornithology, biology and ecology,
as well as entomology.
      After graduating, he went on to earn a master's degree in
biology from Northern Arizona University and a doctorate in
wildlife ecology and management from Michigan State University.
For several years, he taught wildlife and introductory biology
classes at Oklahoma State University and led an intensive eight-
week summer session in ornithology at the University of Oklahoma
Biological Station on Lake Texoma on the border with Texas.
     In 1985, he and his wife, Linda Fulmer Shalaway, Delaware
'76, decided to move closer to their families, so they purchased
a large tract of land in rural Cameron, W. Va., and spent the
next year renovating its dilapidated farmhouse.
     Then, Shalaway began looking for work. "What could I do? I
thought of writing a nature column. I knew nothing about the
newspaper business, which was a good thing. I didn't know how
difficult it could be."
      Shalaway wrote a few sample columns, intending to sell them
to some local weekly papers. Almost on a whim, he sent his work
to The Pittsburgh (Pa.) Press.
     "Lo and behold, they liked it," he says. "They started
buying it twice a month, then three times a month. By February
1987, I had picked up a couple more papers, but it was a very
slow, painstaking process."
     Over the last 10 years, Shalaway has added newspapers (and
lost a few, including the Press, which folded in 1992) to reach
his current base of 20 outlets. The topics of his column vary,
depending on the season. Fall is bird feeders; spring is about
nesting. In November, he might write about deer; in April, about
     He also has penned four books, including A Guide to Bird
Homes (1995), Birds, Bats, Butterfliesand Other Backyard Beasts
(1992) and Quiet Water Canoe Guide: Pennsylvania (1994), which he
co-wrote with his wife.
     The couple currently is collaborating on two other books,
including a volume on nature walks in the Philadelphia area.
Shalaway also is researching a solo effort on the natural history
of chickadees.
     In addition, each Saturday morning, he literally walks on
"The Wild Side" of talk radio when he hosts a call-in show on
WOMP-AM 1290 in Bellaire, Ohio. It's a one-person operation:
Besides preparing the content of each show, he also buys the air
time and then sells ads to local businesses and national
     "It's a whole lot of fun," Shalaway says. "We feature a book
of the week, a song of the week and teach a bird call or insect
     His show has attracted a diverse audience over the past four
years. "In the beginning, it was the nature-lover crowd. But, I
hear from new people all of the time. If you have a backyard, you
see things you're curious about. Chances are, I can give you some
inkling of what it is."
     Despite his busy schedule, Shalaway has found time to
identify well over 100 species of birds-from cardinals to screech
owls-right in his own  backyard.
                                -Robert DiGiacomo, Delaware '88