April 2018                                                                  emasnc.org

For more details see our Calendar of Events   or visit emasnc.org
Sat, April 14, 8am
Jackson Park Birdwalk

Tues, April 17, 7pm
EMAS Program
"Golden Opportunities: Protecting and Managing Land for Birds in the Southern Appalachians"
Reuter Center, UNCAsheville

Sat, April 21, 8am  
Swannanoa Valley Birdwalk

Sat, May 5, 8am
Beaver Lake Birdwalk

Sat, May 12, 8am
Jackson Park Birdwalk

Tues, May 15, 7pm
EMAS Program
"Wood Warblers"
Reuter Center, UNCAsheville

Sat, May 19, 8am
Swannanoa Valley Birdwalk.

Sierra Club Meeting 

The Sierra Club features Scott Dean presenting "Wildflowers, Trees & Critters" and how they work together in the natural environment. 

Thursday, May 3, 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Congregation, 1 Edwin Place. Free and open to the public

Content Editor: Marianne Mooney, mooney.marianne@gmail.com
Technical Editor:  James Poling, james.poling@garrett.edu

For the latest schedule and any changes:
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Golden-winged Warbler by Alan Lenk
It's EMAS Birdathon time! In early May, teams of Elisha Mitchell Audubon birders compete in a friendly Birdathon, searching for and identifying as many species of birds as they can in one 24-hour period. The goal is not only to spot the most birds but, more importantly, to raise money for bird conservation. In 2017, we raised a record $8,750! Besides contributions from our members, we received over $1,000 from the sale of Audubon prints donated by Bill Steiner. Since 2010, with your support, our EMAS Birdathons have raised over $70,000 for bird conservation! 

The Birdathon is Elisha Mitchell Audubon's major fund-raiser and we have set a target goal of $7,000. This year we will award a $1,000 scholarship to a UNCAsheville Environmental Science student. The remaining donations will support an American Bird Conservancy project in Nicaragua aimed at increasing highland forest connectivity and creating shade-grown coffee systems for the benefit of Golden-winged Warblers, Wood Thrush, and other neotropical migratory birds. The Golden-winged Warbler is of particular concern as it has suffered one of the steepest population declines of any songbird species in the past 45 years and is being considered for listing as an endangered species. As Golden-wings nest in the mountains of NC, we local birders take their welfare especially to heart. 

If you'd like to contribute to the Birdathon, please click here for a donation form. We are most grateful for the generosity of our members in helping us play our part in sustaining bird populations. Thank you all very much for your support.
 Protecting and Managing 
 Land for Birds 
 in the Southern Appalachians 

Have you ever
Golden Eagle
by Daniel O'Donnell
wondered how habitats are selected, protected and managed for rare species such as the Golden-winged Warbler or Golden Eagle? This talk, by Marquette Crockett of the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy, (SAHC), will examine how land trusts use science-based guides like Audubon's Important Bird Areas to select land for protection. She will also discuss how SAHC uses a variety of land management tools - from cows to Christmas trees - to manage habitat for those rare species. 

Founded in 1974, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is one of the country's oldest and most respected land trusts. SAHC has conserved over 70,000 acres of unique habitat, including farmland, in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. They achieve this by maintaining long-term conservation relationships with landowners and agencies, and by managing critically important conservation land using the best available science. SAHC works closely with Audubon NC and other organizations to maximize habitats needed by threatened or endangered bird species. 

Ms.Crockett joined the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in 2014 as the Director of Roan Stewardship, where she focuses on protection and management for birds and other species that use the unique habitats found on our mountaintops, including high elevation grassy and shrub balds and spruce-fir forests. She earned her MS from East Tennessee State University and has worked as a Wildlife Biologist for more than 15 years. As a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, she managed unique high elevation habitats in the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia.

All EMAS programs are free and open to the public.

birdathonJoin the Birdathon

EMAS welcomes any group of birders who would like to create their own Birdathon team and join the fun! It's exciting to participate and do a "Big Day" here in the mountains and, at the same time, help us raise money to support conservation of winter bird habitat in Nicaragua. If you want to establish a team and participate in the Birdathon, you must take the fund-raising component seriously and encourage your team members to reach out to friends, family, work colleagues, and fellow birders for contributions. You'll be surprised to find how many regular folks care about birds.

Our Birdathon is an important EMAS initiative. If we want to continue to experience the excitement of seeing and hearing our migrants return from Central and South America, we need to help them. We hope any adventurous birders will consider forming a team and joining in the fun and the fundraising.

If you are interested in creating a team, please contact Tom Tribble (tntribble@gmail.com). He will answer questions you have and provide you with the Birdathon fundraising form and the Birdathon rules. Please act soon so we can add your team name to the Birdathon flyer.

Those First Spring Vireos

Blue-headed Vireo by Alan Lenk
Many of us head out anytime from mid-March onward to look for spring migrants and one of the first and most-anticipated experiences of the Spring is hearing the sweet phrases of the Blue-headed Vireo. This semi-hardy songbird is a common breeding species throughout much of our middle to upper elevation forests, with smaller numbers breeding down into the Piedmont. When these birds first arrive in early Spring, their higher-pitched notes carry through the leafless woodlands. After that, it's tough to head out anytime during the Spring and early Summer without hearing the sweet, slower-paced phrases of this friendly bird. Being naturally inquisitive, they are easy to draw closer with some quiet squeaking or pishing. It's then that you can sometimes hear the very odd twanging call notes as the bird seems to chatter to itself. To many birders this is affectionately known as the "witch's song." It's difficult not to smile when the bird is close and giving you an earful of tuneless ramblings!

Recently renamed the Blue-headed Vireo, many of our bird books still bear the older name of Solitary Vireo. That species was split into three: Blue-headed, Cassin's and Plumbeous Vireos. The latter two species are predominantly western with very few records east of the Rockies. According to data collected by Cornell University, the Blue-headed population has been steadily increasing over the last 20 years. Whether this is a recent increase or just a re-population of old growth habitat is hard to prove, but regardless, it's good to realize that this species is in healthy numbers throughout our eastern forests and we will all be able to easily hear the sweet phrases of the Blue-headed Vireo.

Simon RB Thompson
Ventures Birding Tours
by Rick Pyeritz

Definition of a bird: Two eyes with wings 

For many years,
my nemesis bird was a Loggerhead Shrike. In fact, I had seen 15 of the world's shrikes before finally spotting a Loggerhead in East Tennessee. That day the nemesis tag switched to a King Vulture. Right places, wrong times. Two years ago, a very unsatisfying look at a white speck about a mile high in the Bolivian Andes produced a new life bird and a question. How could a bird spot carrion from that height? A bit of investigation revealed the fact that all birds have excellent vision. Follow this link if you would like to find out how a bird sees so well.

Text and Photos by Jay Wherley

Orchard Oriole
April is a colorful month at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. The arrival of a spectrum of birds includes Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Green Herons, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Indigo Buntings, and possibly Purple Martins. That's a full "Roy G. Biv" array of colors!

Get out and see if
Yellow-throated Warbler
you can observe all seven colors of the rainbow in the birds at Beaver Lake during April. Violet/purple will likely be the hardest to find - if you get a photo of that color on a bird in April at Beaver Lake, let us know.

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Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Wilson's Snipe, Common Loon and Great Egret.

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society |  elishamitchellaudubon@gmail.com | PO Box 18711 Asheville, NC 28814