Upcoming Events
Birding Events

Blue Ridge Audubon's Saturday morning field trips are open to all. We are encouraging everyone to wear a mask.

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

January 1, 9 a.m.

January 8, 9 a.m.

January 15, 9 a.m.

Blue Ridge Audubon
programs will begin again in
March 2022.

2021 programs can be watched at your leisure on our Facebook page

Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, Feb 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Our board meetings are open to everyone. Email us to attend:

Contact Blue Ridge Audubon with questions or concerns at:
Blue Ridge Audubon News
Dear friend,

As another year draws to a close, it’s a time when many of us reflect on what came before, and what lies ahead. It has been another difficult year for the world; my hope is that 2022 will bring better days for all. Like many of you, I am incredibly grateful for the solace that birds and the natural world bring, whether it’s listening to a scarlet tanager singing on the Blue Ridge Parkway or finding a quiet moment to watch a titmouse at the feeder. There’s certainly a lot to appreciate out there.
In 2021, the Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter continued working on our mission to protect birds and the places they need. Once again, chapter volunteers met with state lawmakers to advocate for conservation and clean energy legislation, on which we had success. We assisted UNCA Audubon students with their exciting new partnership, the Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville. Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee worked to plan several new initiatives, and we remain committed to providing an inclusive, accessible and welcoming chapter for all. We continued to offer birding events and programs with safe health protocols in place.
Among our proudest achievements is our work to care for the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, a haven for birds and people alike. A community treasure, the Sanctuary is free and open for all to enjoy, 365 days a year. More than 200 species of birds have been identified there and over 50,000 people visit each year.
Blue Ridge Audubon is a non-profit organization run completely by volunteers. We rely almost entirely on donations from our member/supporter community for our chapter’s work and maintaining the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. This year, your donations funded the removal of multiflora rose, oriental bittersweet, and porcelain berry. With your help, we’ll keep up the fight against invasive plants, replacing them with native bird-friendly plants and shrubs.
If you’re able, please consider giving an end-of-year, tax-deductible charitable donation to the Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter. You’ll be helping maintain the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and assist in our efforts to make a difference for birds, the environment, and for people.

Please visit our Donation webpage to contribute online or send a check to: BRAC, PO Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814. We thank you!

Best wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday season,
-Nancy Casey

Tufted Titmouse by Alan Lenk
Crossing Paths with Crossbills
Clifton Avery and Chris Kelly
In the fall of 2020, biologists from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission headed into the field in search of a unique and rather uncommon bird – the Red Crossbill. Red Crossbills are listed as a species of special concern in North Carolina, indicating a need for monitoring. But monitoring this species presents a unique challenge because flocks don’t stay put. They are nomadic, covering long distances in search of the next big conifer cone crop. In North Carolina, most Red Crossbills are associated with the high elevation Red spruce and Fraser fir forests, where they feast on spruce seed from summer through autumn. However, in years when red spruce has a poor cone crop, the crossbills must search elsewhere for food, and biologists must search far and wide for them.

Crossbills had been reported by birders in autumn of 2020 feeding on the abundant white pinecone crops some 500 to 1,000 feet below the spruce zone. One of those sites was in DuPont State Recreation Forest. On his first day of searching, Clifton Avery found not only crossbills, but an active nest! He saw a male and female crossbill fly into a tall pitch pine rooted at the base of a granitic dome. Clifton spotted a potential nest 50 feet up and saw the female crossbill fly directly into it, prompting faint calls from presumed nestlings. While it may seem late in the year to find an active nest, in years of bumper cone crops, crossbills can raise four broods.
The next day Clifton and biologist Chris Kelly met at the nest site to observe the nest and record their calls. They witnessed the female removing a fecal sack from the nest. This confirmed the nest was active and there were nestlings. All was over and done a few days later when the young fledged. Finding this nest was particularly exciting because the last confirmed Red Crossbill nests in North Carolina were in 1986. Marcus Simpson documented a nest in Linville Gorge and Douglas McNair reported nests in Highlands during a bumper crop of white pinecones. Let’s hope those bumper cone crops keep coming!

Next time you are around a large grove of pines or spruce, look up into the crowns to see if there are ripening cones. If so, keep your ears trained on the distinctive “chewt, chewt” call of the red crossbill. Perhaps you will find the next nest in North Carolina!

This article is from a NC Wildlife Resources Commission blog post. Clifton Avery is a Wildlife Diversity Technician and Chris Kelly is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist.

Photo credit: Clifton Avery and Chris Kelly, NCWRC
Chapter News
The Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter board regretfully announces that Nancy Casey, board president for the last 2 ½ years, will resign from her position on January 1. We are very grateful for her service and are thrilled that she will continue as a board member. Nancy has done a great job through extremely challenging times. Being president of our chapter requires more time and effort than people could imagine. Coupled with those demands, Nancy works a fulltime job and has family responsibilities that will require her attention in the coming year.
Nancy joined the Board of Directors in 2017, and prior to that volunteered on committees including Publications, and Advocacy, Conservation and Education. Nancy led the Board’s effort to adopt an Advocacy Plan and to send out advocacy alerts to our members. During Nancy’s tenure as president, she led us through a chapter name change, and helped establish the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to guide the Board’s efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive organization. We were very lucky to have her technological expertise as we moved from in person to online programs and meetings.

Nancy did so much more than we could possibly enumerate here. We are most grateful for her leadership, vision, dedication and enthusiasm. Many thanks to Nancy from us all!
Beaver Bits
Text and photos by Jay Wherley
As we reach the end of another year of birding at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary (BLBS), I’m putting a little quiz in the column about our local eight-acre hotspot. (Answers in the next issue)
1) How many different bird species are observed on average per year at BLBS?
a) 120 b) 220 c) 145 d) 170
2) Which of the following species has NOT been observed every week of the year at BLBS?
a) Cedar Waxwing b) Northern Cardinal c) American Crow d) Song Sparrow
3) Which of the following species has NEVER been observed at BLBS?
a) Sandhill Crane b) Black Scoter c) Mississippi Kite d) Long-tailed Duck
4) The last year a Greater White-fronted Goose was seen at BLBS was:
a) 2013  b) Every year except 2021 c) 1999 d) Never
5) More species have been observed at BLBS than any spot in Buncombe County?
a) True b) False
6) The land BLBS occupies was at one time a … ?
a) Clubhouse b) Distillery c) Strip mall d) Museum
7) Which of the following has never been reported at BLBS?
a) Black bear b) Gray Fox c) White-tailed Deer d) Beaver e) All have been reported
8) What is now hidden under the waters of Beaver Lake?
a) Barnstorming airplane b) Trolley track c) Civil War era gun battery d) Cow pasture
9) Which of the following bird species was first observed at BLBS in 2021?
a) Surf Scoter b) Yellow-crowned Night-Heron c) Blue Grosbeak d) Summer Tanager
10) The largest flock of a singles species reported at BLBS, 500 birds, consisted of?
a) Mallards b) Canada Geese c) Chimney Swifts d) American Robins e) European Starlings
* * *

Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Green Heron (in November?!?) and Gadwall

Lake Patrol collage by Jay Wherley
Old postcard of Beaver Lake
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.