Upcoming Events
Birding Events

Join us for one of
Blue Ridge Audubon's Saturday field trips. Free and open to all.
Note earlier start time!

Many thanks to the guides at Ventures Birding
for leading our outings.

April 16, 8 a.m.

May 7, 8 a.m.

May 14, 8 a.m.

April Program
Tuesday, April 19 at 7 p.m.
Ben Novak
Restoring the Passenger Pigeon
Join us in person at the
Reuter Center, UNCAsheville
or watch on our Facebook page

May Program
Tuesday, May 17 at 7 p.m.
Curtis Smalling, ANC
Chasing Golden-Winged Warblers 
Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30 p.m.
Open to everyone. Contact us to attend
2022 Everyone Can Birdathon
Dear friend,

It’s Birdathon time! In early May, teams of Blue Ridge Audubon birders challenge each other to a friendly competition, searching for and identifying as many species of birds as they can in one 24-hour period. Their goal is not only to spot the most birds but, more importantly, to raise money for bird conservation. Since 2010, with your generous support, our Birdathons have raised over $60,000 for bird conservation. This year’s donations will go to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) to help create and maintain habitat for Golden-winged Warblers here in our mountains. All donations will be matched by Blue Ridge Audubon up to $10,000! Read more about SAHC's effort in the article below.

We’re inviting everyone to participate once again in our Everyone Can Birdathon! Head out with your friends and family, find some birds, and share your results online here. You can post photos of your Birdathon memories to Facebook/Instagram and tag Blue Ridge Audubon @blueridgeaudubon.

Getting pledges to support your Big Day is a great way to fundraise. It’s easy for your friends and family to make a donation at our website. Donors can specify that it’s for the Birdathon and name the team/birder that they’re supporting. You can also share a link to our Birdathon donation form where donors can learn more about Golden-winged Warblers and how we are supporting their conservation. Please consider making an online donation or visit our website. You can also print out the donation form and mail a check to: Blue Ridge Audubon Birdathon, PO Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814.

We are most grateful for the generosity of our members in helping us raise money for bird conservation. Thank you all very much for your support! We invite everyone to attend our special Blue Ridge Audubon May 17 program where we hope to announce the winning Birdathon team. We will also have a fantastic presentation on Chasing Golden-winged Warblers with Curtis Smalling of Audubon North Carolina. Please join us!
Bringing Back the Passenger Pigeon:
The Key to Saving Forest Biodiversity
Ben Novak 
Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter Program
Tuesday, April 19, 7 p.m.
Reuter Center, UNCAsheville
or watch on our Facebook page
Passenger Pigeons were once the most numerous bird species in existence and vital to the forest ecosystem of eastern North America. A victim of their own abundant numbers, they were blasted out of the sky as they migrated by the millions and slaughtered at their large communal roost sites. The last Passenger Pigeon died in 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo. But with new technology, the Passenger Pigeon may rise again. The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback is a flagship project of Revive & Restore, which aims to use cutting edge biotechnology to restore a new generation of passenger pigeons to the eastern forests of North America. Revive & Restore is a conservation non-profit fostering innovation and adoption of biotechnologies. What was once science fiction is now achievable thanks to advances in paleogenomics and other technologies. 
At April’s program, we will welcome Ben Novak, the lead scientist and program manager for the Biotechnology for Bird Conservation program. He heads Revive & Restore’s flagship project, The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback. Ben’s mission in leading the project is to set the standard for de-extinction protocols.
Born in western North Dakota, Ben’s witnessing of the reintroduction of bison, elk, and bighorn sheep in the park combined with a love of science inspired his dreams to restore extinct species. Ben graduated from Montana State University studying Ecology and Evolution. He later trained in Paleogenomics at the McMaster University Ancient DNA Centre in Ontario. This is where he began his study of passenger pigeon DNA, which then contributed to his Master’s thesis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz. 

Please join the Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter for what will surely be a fascinating talk! Our programs are free and open to the public. 
Golden-winged Warbers
The charismatic Golden-winged Warbler is hanging on by a thread here in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Their regional population has declined almost 98% since the 1960’s, and they are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the global authority on the status of the natural world. With only 400,000 breeding adults remaining in the U.S., theirs is the smallest population of any songbird not on the Endangered Species List.

Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) need a variety of habitat to succeed on their breeding grounds. They nest in shrubby, open areas, with the female building the nest on the ground (!) at the base of a shrub or in a tangle of grass or sedge foliage. Once the young have fledged, the birds move into mature forest habitat. Managing for Golden-wings requires actively creating young forest, keeping mature forest growing, and managing shrubby areas from getting too overgrown. Many bird species benefit from this management plan including American Woodcock, Prairie Warbler, Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Yellow-breasted Chat.

To spot Golden-winged Warblers locally in spring, many birders head to Max Patch as a reliable place to see them. This birder found a Golden-wing singing from a perch on a telephone line on the road to Max Patch. Stecoah Gap is another GWWA pilgrimage spot. But hopefully there will be other places to see GWWA’s thanks to groups actively maintaining suitable habitat for this wonderful small songbird.
We’re very excited to be partnering with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), a local land trust, to increase appropriate habitat for Golden-wings. SAHC already works to support GWWA on their land and our fund-raising will help with their efforts. Their targeted sites are Grassy Ridge and Elk Hollow, known nesting sites for GWWA. Those areas require active management to maintain the conditions required for successful GWWA nesting. The work on these two sites entails hand mowing and bushhogging blackberries and other shrubs to maintain a patchwork of shrubs, forbs, and grasses. SAHC will also work on their Grassy Gap property where they have documented grassland species like the Vesper Sparrow. They plan to create brushy areas in one end of the field to create GWWA habitat. We are so happy to support their efforts to conserve the Golden-winged Warbler!

Golden-winged warbler by Alan Lenk, UNCA volunteers courtesy of SAHC
The Passenger Pigeon Dies
The last living Passenger Pigeon in North Carolina turned out to be a specimen taken in Buncombe County on October 20, 1894. Only 20 years later, the last known living Passenger Pigeon, named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. It boggles the mind to learn that the Passenger Pigeon’s population was once estimated to be in the billions. Records speak of the darkening of the skies as massive flocks passed over. But it took little more than 100 years for man to wreak havoc on the birds through over-harvesting and destruction of their habitat.

“We went to shoot pigeons which were so numerous in these parts that you might see many millions in a flock; they sometimes split off the limbs of stout oaks and other trees upon which they roost of nights.” John Lawson, Davidson County, NC, early 1700's.

“Dr. K.P. Battle of Raleigh, a careful observer of birds, states that when at Bingham School between 1871 and 1872 he saw a flock about a mile in width.” T. Gilbert Pearson, Birds of North Carolina, 1919
North Carolina Audubon Summit
April 21-24 in Charlotte
It's not too late to register for the 2022 Audubon North Carolina Summit in Charlotte on April 21-24. This year's Summit will be a great opportunity for all of us to be together, share our love of birds, and get inspired to take action for a brighter future for all. The weekend will feature an array of inspiring speakers, in-depth workshops, exciting field trips, and a Saturday-evening banquet and volunteer awards.

The Summit will be based at the UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel & Conference Center which has plenty of outdoor space for gatherings and workshops. Make your reservation for the special hotel rates available to attendees. To register for the Summit, please visit this Audubon North Carolina page. We hope to see lots of Blue Ridge Audubon members there!
Beaver Bits
Text and photos by Jay Wherley
With the March arrival of singing Yellow-throated Warblers, you may wonder which warblers use our sanctuary as a breeding location. Some warblers seen in the sanctuary continue moving through to other local WNC area locations with more suitable habitat, such as Golden-winged Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, Kentucky Warblers, and Prairie Warblers. 
Warbler species known to breed on sanctuary/lake grounds are Yellow-throated Warblers, Hooded Warblers, Pine Warblers, and, during some years, Yellow Warblers.

* * *
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Osprey and Bonaparte’s Gull.
Hooded Warbler, Beaver Lake, April 2018
Yellow Warbler, Beaver Lake, April 2021
About the Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter
Blue Ridge Audubon is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving Buncombe, Henderson, and surrounding counties in western North Carolina.

We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are
tax-deductible to the extent
allowed by law.

Raven's Nest Editor: 
Marianne Mooney
Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter
PO Box 18711
Asheville, NC 28814

Blue Ridge Audubon's mission is to protect birds and the places they depend on. We believe that a world in which birds thrive is a world that benefits all living things.

Our vision is a vibrant and just community where the protection of birds and our natural world is valued by everyone.
For the latest information and schedule changes,
check our Website or Facebook/Instagram page.