The Raven's Nest
February 2020
Upcoming Events
EMAS Meetings & Walks are Free and Open to All!
Avian Events Around Town...
A Telling Instinct: John James Audubon and Contemporary Art 
Asheville Art Museum exhibit
Opens Friday, February 21
Wood Thrush Connection
Film Showing
Asheville Art Museum
March 19, 7 pm
President's Message
Greetings!

Happy New Year to all! Last year we heard a lot of distressing news about birds. Two stories in particular stand out: we’ve lost 3 billion birds over the last 50 years, and over the next decades, many bird species face extinction due to climate change. Despite the tough news, I choose to be hopeful. I hold a strong belief that each and every one of us can make a difference!

For 2020, I’ve resolved to do more to help birds than ever before. I’m committed to making my yard more bird-friendly by planting native trees and plants. I’ll talk about the wonder of birds and the challenges they face with everyone I can. And I’ll make my voice heard in favor of policies and laws that protect birds. 

Here are three great ways to start the new year off right: 

1. Speak up against weakening America’s most important bird law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act . The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a regulation that would gut enforcement of this landmark law and severely weaken protections for billions of birds. P lease click here to send your message opposing the proposed regulation. And if you want to take action all year long, sign up to receive Audubon Alerts here

2. Choose bird-friendly native plants, shrubs and trees. Even small yards can provide precious habitat for birds. Here’s a challenge: can you replace some (or even all!) of your grass with native trees and plants? Check out this helpful database to find NC native species that provide precious habitat and food for birds and pollinators.

3. Concerned about climate change and its effects on birds and people? Check out Audubon’s Climate Action Guide to learn about meaningful ways you can make lasting change in the world.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all this year at Elisha Mitchell Audubon program meetings and bird walks!

For the birds, 
-Nancy Casey
2020 Audubon North Carolina Summit
"Audubon for Everyone"
Mecklenburg Audubon Society members are pleased to welcome all Audubon North Carolina members to Charlotte for the 2020 Audubon NC Summit on Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 19. The biennial convention is designed to bring together dedicated chapter members, Audubon college groups, volunteers, and partners from across the state. The weekend will feature an array of inspiring speakers, in-depth workshops, exciting field trips, and the camaraderie and networking opportunities that only the Audubon North Carolina Summit can provide
Charlotte is a vibrant, birdy place to gather, learn, network, and go birding. Besides targeting all the local birding hot spots, many field trips will also focus on gardens and rare native plants. The Summit will be based at the Hilton Charlotte University Place. Early-bird registration of $115 is available until March 19; after that it will be $125. Registration includes all events: workshops, Friday evening reception, Saturday evening banquet, and field trips. Special hotel rates are available to attendees.

For more information and to book your registration, please visit https://nc.audubon.org/2020-summit . We hope to see lots of Elisha Mitchell members there!
Great Backyard Bird Count
The 23rd annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will take place on Friday, February 14 through Monday, February 17. 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. 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. In 2019, participants submitted 204,921 checklists from over 140 countries and totaled 6,669 species of birds, creating the largest snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded!
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 https://gbbc.birdcount.org/ .

Join Elisha Mitchell Audubon for a GBBC bird count! EMAS will participate in the GBBC by hosting two bird walks on Saturday, February 15 at 9 a.m., one at Owen Park in Swananoa and one at Jackson Park in Hendersonville. There will also be a bird count at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary on Sunday, 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
 Like many folks, I tend to read more in the winter, especially as I get older. Here in the mountains the bird activity has quieted, the air is colder, and it’s just tempting to stay in and read. Next to my favorite chair, there’s a sizable pile of books that I promised myself I’d get around to reading, some authored by my favorites--- Terry Tempest Williams, Edward Abby, George Ellison, Peter Matthiessen, and John Burroughs. For this month’s Bird Notes, I have selected six books that I have enjoyed over the years and occasionally revisited. Of course, they all have something to do with birds, but each has a different emphasis, a unique way of engaging nature and, hopefully, engaging you, the reader. I know you’ll enjoy at least one, if not more, of these books so go ahead, settle back, and dig in. Follow this link for my book list with summaries.
Beaver Bits
Text by Jay Wherley
Starting this month, I’m going to look back at the early history of Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary with some reporting from the late 1980’s and 1990’s. We begin this journey in January 1988, with a 27,000-square-foot shopping center proposed for a bucolic, four acre site on the shores of Beaver Lake. Unless someone raises $400,000 to buy the property from the developer, at an original tentative deadline reported in the Citizen-Times as “spring” of that year, the lake shore spot will be concrete.
 Then Elisha Mitchell Audubon President Scott Parker put it this way: “It’s a very clear choice. Either the property will be developed, or it’s going to be preserved as a sanctuary.” On Tuesday, January 1988, EMAS handed out 100 yard signs reading “Save Beaver Lake” at a Pack Library meeting.

Fourth graders from Claxton Elementary were on the vanguard of raising awareness about the proposed shopping center. In early February, teacher Carol Meehan stated “Our class has been studying nature since August. We’re all naturalists and know the importance of preserving the environment of the lake.” The reason for the student’s stand was reported in the Citizen-Times: “…there are more than enough shopping centers in that area; the animals at the lake need their home; and students in the county need a place to enjoy and study wildlife. They want Beaver Lake to be known as the ‘learning lake’.”

The challenge was undertaken. Next month we’ll continue reminiscing about the start of our “learning lake”.
***
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Black-crowned Night-heron and a group of *six* Surf Scoters.
Images:
Scott Parker, Asheville Citizen-Times, January 12, 1988
Claxton Fourth-graders, Asheville Citizen-Times, February 9, 1988
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
mooney.marianne@gmail.com

Technical Editor: 
Nick Dugan
nicholas.s.dugan@gmail.com
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/Instagram