The Raven's Nest
Jan/Feb 2019
Upcoming Events
All EMAS Meetings/Walks are Free and Open to All!
A Message from the President
At the 2017 National Audubon Convention, I had the good fortune to hear a keynote address by Dr. Drew Lanham (pictured right), Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University and a member of the National Audubon Board of Directors. I had previously read his wonderful book – The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. He spoke openly about the lack of diversity in Audubon. When was the last time you saw an African-American on one of our regular bird walks? Or at an EMAS program? Dr. Lanham recognizes the issue but without rancor and with understanding. Witness his hilarious YouTube video “Birding while Black.”

National Audubon has taken Dr. Lanham’s challenge to heart through a renewed outreach on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Here is an excerpt from Audubon’s statement on this program:

“Just as biodiversity strengthens natural systems, the diversity of human experience strengthens our conservation efforts for the benefit of nature and all human beings. Audubon must represent and reflect that human diversity, embracing it in all the communities where we work, in order to achieve our conservation goals.”

Elisha Mitchell Audubon is committed to embracing this goal. At the 2018 NC Audubon Summit, hosted by EMAS in September, David Ringer, Chief Network Officer for National Audubon, made a perceptive observation: “We cannot simply assume that people know they are welcome.”   

Help us reach out to and welcome people of color, people of all faiths, and those of the LGBT community by extending invitations to our programs, bird walks and other events. EMAS is striving to be a more diverse and inclusive organization, one where we celebrate and value the diversity of our entire community. I want to hear from you -- so please send me your ideas and input on how we can achieve this.

Audubon’s mission is to help birds and the places they need. The birds we are pledged to protect are, like people, wonderfully diverse in color, size, behavior, geographical preference and in countless other ways. Elisha Mitchell Audubon can better accomplish our mission by including and welcoming all people.

Thank You and Good Birding!

Tom Tribble, EMAS president
The Great Backyard Bird Count
The 22nd annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place this year on February 15th to 18th. Launched in 1998 by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this citizen science project was the first to collect data on birds online and to display results in near real-time. Last February, over 180,000 checklists submitted from over 140 countries totaled 6,460 species of birds, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded! Scientists use information from the GBBC to compile data regarding winter distribution and abundance of birds. The longer this data is collected, the more meaningful it becomes in helping scientists study birds. 

Pick up your binos and join in! Registered participants count birds for 15 or more minutes for one to four days and submit their lists. It's a free, fun activity for young or old, and experienced birders or beginners. Birds can be counted in your own backyard or seen on an outing. For more information on how to register and participate go to .

Join EMAS for a GBBC bird count! EMAS will participate in the GBBC by hosting bird walks at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary on Friday, February 15 at 9 a.m., and at Owen Park on Saturday, February 16 at 9 a.m. The bird walks are free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary. 
Bird Notes
by Rick Pyeritz
Long before Audubon or Alexander Wilson, an almost forgotten Englishman was pursuing the discovery and cataloging of birds. In his new book, The Wonderful Life of Mr. Willughby , Tim Birkhead presents his thesis that Francis Willughby should be considered the world’s first true ornithologist. A brilliant student and adventurous explorer, Willughby lived during the exciting scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. In this two-part article, our Bird Notes author delves into the fascinating life and times of this 17 th Century pioneering scientist.

Follow this link to read on. 
Newsletter Technical Editor Needed!
The Raven’s Nest has lost our long-time technical editor, Jim Poling. We are most grateful to Jim for his service to the chapter and we’ve reluctantly agreed to let on get on with retirement -- his birding and photography hobbies are calling! 

So, we need a new technical editor for our newsletter which is published 10 times a year. The technical editor formats the newsletter copy into the Constant Contact template and sets up the automatic emailing to our members. It doesn’t require much time or expertise. We are looking for a person who is technically savvy and who preferably has a little experience with newsletter design layout and/or with Constant Contact. But we can train any interested person! We would appreciate your help!

If you’re interested, please contact our newsletter editor, Marianne Mooney at
The Birder's Eye
by Simon Thompson
Spotting Those Thrushes

To some of us, the Hermit Thrush has the finest song of any North American bird. Those haunting tunes, with their slow introductory notes, each on a different pitch, are evocative of the North Woods and our own high elevation spruce-fir forests. To me, the song of the Hermit Thrush even exceeds that of the popular Wood Thrush. What can be finer, or more atmospheric, than to spend the early morning hours high in the spruce-fir forests of the Southern Blue Ridge? As the pink of dawn mist drifts start to appear in the sky, the first soft notes of the Hermit Thrush echo through the high peaks –beautiful and wild and a true sound of the north woods. 

To read Simon’s full article, please follow this link .
Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley
Every rule of thumb has an exception – and a recent Swainson’s Thrush proved an exception to the rule that “every brown Catharus one sees here in the Winter is a Hermit Thrush.” The attached photos show these two thrushes as seen at Beaver Lake in January. Note the trademark reddish tail on the Hermit Thrush (pictured left) versus the continuous gray-olive back and tail of the Swainson’s Thrush (pictured below). This may well be the first photographed record of this species in North Carolina at this time of year. First spotted by Aaron Steed at Beaver Lake on January 2nd.
The Lake View Park Commission is preparing for silt dredging at the Southern/Eastern end of the lake. The water level will continue to be lowered until most of the bottom is exposed. After sitting to help drain as much water as possible, the actual dredging will begin and last for 2 to 3 months. A portion of the loop trail along Merrimon Ave. around the corner from the Bird Sanctuary will be closed during that time. Hopefully all work will be complete sometime in the Spring. Access to the Bird Sanctuary area should not be affected. Bring on the shorebirds?!
* * *
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Swainson’s Thrush and Bald Eagle

I mages:
  • Hermit Thrush, Beaver Lake, 6 January 2019
  • Swainson’s Thrush, Beaver Lake, 6 January 2019
About The Raven's Nest
Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society
PO Box 18711 Asheville, NC 28814

EMAS is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving Buncombe, Henderson, and surrounding counties in western North Carolina.

Content Editor: 
Marianne Mooney

Technical Editor: 
Nancy Casey
Our mis sion is to promote an awareness and appreciation of nature, to preserve and protect wildlife and natural ecosystems, and to encourage responsible environmental stewardship.

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
For the latest information and schedule changes,
check the EMAS Website or Facebook page