November 2018

Sat, Nov 10, 9am
Jackson Park Birdwalk
Sat, Nov 17, 9am
Swannanoa Valley Birdwalk
Sat. Dec 1, 9am
Beaver Lake Birdwalk
Sat. Dec 8, 9am
Jackson Park Birdwalk
Sat. Dec 15, 9 am
Swannanoa Valley Birdwalk
For more details on Upcoming Events see our  Calendar  on


On October 23, the Asheville City Council unanimously passed the resolution to transition the city's operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030. More than 100 Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society members emailed the City Council in response to our Action Alert or signed our petition. Thanks to all of you for helping to make a difference! 

The National Audubon Society's landmark
Cape May Warbler by Alan Lenk
study on the impact of climate change and birds found that more than half of the 588 North American bird species studied will face serious challenges due to changing climatic conditions. Clean energy resolutions like the one adopted for Asheville are a step forward in reducing emissions and making a healthier planet for birds and humans. The Council recognizes this resolution is just the first step. The next challenge is developing a practical plan and finding funding to achieve this ambitious goal. Elisha Mitchell Audubon pledges to support the City's efforts. 

This year, EMAS adopted a formal advocacy plan to guide our chapter's outreach to our members, supporters, and community. I congratulate the committee and our members for putting the plan into effect. Nancy Casey, chair of our Advocacy, Conservation and Education Committee, says it best: 

"I am thrilled that so many fellow EMAS members and supporters sent letters and signed the petition in support of Asheville's renewable energy resolution! This is a tremendous victory in our efforts to protect birds and the habitats they need from the devastating effects of climate change. We especially thank Audubon North Carolina for assisting and supporting our effort." 

Tom Tribble, EMAS president
by Rick Pyeritz

"Perhaps the most striking feature of the song was its great carrying quality. The bird perches on a limb, every muscle in its body tense, points his head toward the sky and lets out a burst of clear, bubbling though the singer's throat will burst from the sheer force of the song." 
Nathan Freudenthal, Jr., "The Kirtland's Warbler in its Summer Home" 
The Auk, Vol. XLI pp. 44-58 

Kirtland's Warbler by Alan Lenk
When a Kirtland's Warbler appeared in Western North Carolina this September and actually hung around for a while, our local birding community was all abuzz. While this bird is known for its elusiveness, endangered species status, and highly specific breeding habits, who knew there was such a fascinating story behind its naming. It turns out to be one of those "stranger than fiction" tales involving a famous murder, a malacologist, and a checklist of Puerto Rican birds. Follow this link to read the story.
goingnative Going Native is for the Birds
by Cathy Walsh
EMAS has been advocating in favor of a proposed ordinance to plant native species on city property because native vegetation is better for the environment and important for birds and pollinators. Last month, the Asheville Tree Commission unanimously endorsed the ordinance "to encourage the use of more native plants on city-owned and managed property and to prohibit the planting of any invasive, non-native plants on this property." It is the goal of Asheville Tree Commissioner, Stephen Hendricks, as well as the Tree Protection Task Force, that the ordinance be included in the 2019 ordinance updates that pertain to trees and plants on City property. The proposed ordinance will then be the policy for the City of Asheville. Greg Shuler, Director of Public Works, will proceed with whatever steps are necessary to put the policy into effect. 

Key supporters of the ordinance include City Council member Julie Mayfield, EMAS president Tom Tribble, Audubon NC's Kim Brand, Bob Gale of Mountain True, Stephen Hendricks, Phyllis Stiles of Bee City USA, and Asheville Greenworks' Dawn Chavez. This could not have happened without their support. Thanks to all EMAS members who wrote to the City Council to lobby for this effort - without your help this would not have been possible. Thank you for your support! 

Cathy Walsh, EMAS board member

According to the American Museum of Natural History, there are between 9,000 and 10,000 bird species on this earth, two of which are the Crow and the Raven. These two common black birds of the corvid family, found in various habitats throughout North America, are known for being extremely clever and smart. However similar these birds appear, though, they are still different species and have many different quirks. 

The American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos,
American Crow by Amanda Guercio
thrives in open woodland habitat, in towns and on farms, and is found nearly everywhere in the continental United States. Crows have a unique flight pattern with methodical flapping broken up with rare glides. They are glossy black and have a wingspan of 85-100 cm. They tend to form communal roosts in the winter months, with sizes ranging from hundreds to thousands according to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Their call is a harsh cawing sound and is easily distinguished from the croak of the Raven.

Common Raven by Rick & Nora Bowers
The Common Raven, Corvus corax, nests in cliffs and lives in a wide range of environments, from forests to deserts. They exist most commonly in the western and northern regions of North America. Studies have been shown that Ravens have the intelligence of a seven-year-old human. They have flowing wingbeats and can do acrobatic flips and tricks mid-flight. Ravens have a wingspan of 116-118 cm and are much larger in size than the American Crow. These birds are solid black as well and have shaggy throat feathers. 

The two species do have many similarities, though. They are both ground foragers and omnivorous, thriving on seed, grain, dead animals, and more. Because of their all-black bodies, these species are often confused. However, the size, calls, and behaviors can help birders distinguish a murder of Crows from a conspiracy of Ravens! 

Sadie Allen, a student at Polk County High School, chose to complete her Senior Project with the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society. When she is not studying or in school, she can be found birdwatching. Her favorite birds are the Black-Billed Magpie and the Indigo Bunting. She plans to go to college and study International Relations and Asian Studies.

Content Editor: 
Marianne Mooney

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Text and Photos by Jay Wherley

In November, we

transition from looking for migrating warblers to searching for interesting sparrows. This year, Lincoln's Sparrows seem to be more common than normal; several sightings have already occurred. (I note that none were seen in the sanctuary in 2017.) Look for the fine, crisp streaks that are distinct from the Song Sparrow's bold, blurry streaks.

Along with the abundant and tuneful winter resident White-throated Sparrows, you may find a Field Sparrow or two. Look for the white eye ring, pink bill, and generally small, cute appearance. 
* * * 
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Gray-cheeked Thrush and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society | | PO Box 18711 Asheville, NC 28814