Upcoming Events
Birding Events

Join us for
Blue Ridge Audubon's Saturday morning field trips are open to all.

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

February 19, 9 a.m.

March 5, 9 a.m.

March 12, 9 a.m.

Blue Ridge Audubon's next
Program Meeting is
Tuesday, March 15 at 7 p.m.
Details in our next newsletter

Watch our 2021 programs at our Facebook page

Advocacy Kick-Off Meeting
Thursday, February 17th
Register here (details below)

Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Open to everyone. Contact us to attend
President's Message
Dear friend,

We are already a month into the new year! As I write this, six inches of new snow has encouraged juncos and cardinals to come to my feeder. For a moment the world has slowed down, allowing me to behold the beauty of nature. All the more so because I know placid interludes with nature, at least for me, tend to be fleeting in this busy life.

2021 was a busy year indeed for Blue Ridge Audubon. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to ebb and surge, we have found ways to continue our Saturday Birding outings at Beaver Lake, Owen Park and Jackson Park while observing proper safety protocols. We are so excited to announce the City of Asheville's proclamation on migratory bird protection and a Lights Out Initiative (check out more details below). Blue Ridge Audubon worked with student-led UNCAsheville Audubon, to form the Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville and together worked with the City on the proclamation. And thanks to continued generous donations from members and non-members alike, we were able to make several wonderful enhancements to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary including: repairing the damage to the eco-filter pond; making significant progress in eradicating invasive plants in order to restore bird-friendly native habitat; and repaving the entrance parking lot. 

As we transition to a new year, I would like to take a moment to thank retiring president Nancy Casey for her superior guidance over the past three years. Under her astute leadership, Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter was able to effect a smooth transition to its new name and navigate the myriad obstacles placed by the COVID-19 pandemic all while improving and enhancing our numerous activities and outreach. We will miss her steady hand at the wheel but I am gratified that she will continue to serve on the Board of Directors. Many thanks for all your efforts, Nancy!
I am humbled to have been chosen to be the next President of Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter. Since returning to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2015, I have long enjoyed the benefits of Beaver Lake, Audubon programming and the community of birders around Asheville. I am happy to be giving back to such a tremendous organization.

2022 has started fast for us at Blue Ridge Audubon. Already we have made an investment in funding a Motus Wildlife Tracking Station for the Blue Ridge Mountains (details in a future newsletter), and we are excited as we look forward to new outreach efforts with local elementary schools and community centers. And we hope to make new strides in local habitat conservation for breeding migratory birds through fundraising efforts like the Birdathon.

As always, we cherish your contributions, be it through volunteering with us or through fiscal gifts. Please visit our Donation webpage to contribute online or send a check to: BRAC, PO Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814. We thank you!

I am looking forward to making it a great year for the birds.

John Koon
President, Blue Ridge Audubon

Dark-eyed Junco by Alan Lenk
Lights Out Asheville
Thank you, Mayor and City Council!
In case you missed it: the City of Asheville just made a huge commitment to protecting migratory birds by sponsoring a new Lights Out campaign and issuing a Bird Migration Awareness Proclamation! If you haven't already, please take a moment and click here to thank our city officials for taking this big step on behalf of birds.

As part of the Lights Out campaign, the city commits to turning off unnecessary lighting during spring and fall migration, and is asking businesses, residences and building managers to do the same. Bright city lights can disorient migrating birds, often leading to fatal building collisions. These deaths are one of the leading causes for the loss of nearly 3 billion birds in North America since 1970. 

Blue Ridge Audubon and UNCA Audubon spearheaded the Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville, and worked together with city officials to take this giant step toward making Asheville a bird-friendly city. We thank the other Coalition members including: the National Audubon Society, Audubon North Carolina, Wenoca Sierra Club, MountainTrue, Dark Skies Initiative, Asheville Greenworks, the Asheville Astronomy Club, plus others!
The Coalition provides information on how individuals, businesses, property owners and building managers can reduce migratory bird deaths. The goal is to promote bird-safe building designs, reduce night-time lighting and host educational programs that support the mission. The Lights Out program not only protects birds but it saves energy and reduces costs.

The Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville website has a wealth of helpful information. Stay tuned for much more on this initiative... and be sure to click here to thank our city council today!
Interested in volunteering? Email:
Blue Ridge Audubon has a new President!
The Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter board is very happy to announce that John Koon has been appointed board president. John will fill the remaining two-year term of past president Nancy Casey. We are so grateful that John offered to step into this role especially since he joined the board only in 2021. John has been an active chapter volunteer for several years, and one of his projects has been refurbishing the many nest boxes at the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary.
John is an avid birder and has travelled widely in the U.S. and elsewhere. After leaving the Navy, he became an airline pilot and moved to Asheville. During his work travels, he always makes a point of visiting birding preserves and interpretive centers run by the Audubon Society. He feels these places are “a center of gravity for many communities which bring positive attention to outdoor preservation in general and the challenges of bird habitat preservation in particular.”
John is aware of the many challenges that we are facing regarding climate change, conservation, bird population loss, and equity and diversity issues. He’s looking forward to tackling these issues which he “feels are paramount for making the world and local community a better place for people and birds to live and thrive.”
Advocacy Kickoff Meeting
This Thursday - February 17th at 7pm
Please join other Blue Ridge Audubon advocates online this week for Audubon North Carolina's Advocacy Kickoff meeting this Thursday Feb 17th at 7pm). Together, with other chapters, we'll learn how we can help speak up for birds in North Carolina and make our state more bird-friendly! 

Register here and we'll see you there!
The Great Backyard Bird Count
February 18 - 21, 2022
Each February, for the past 24 years, the world has come together for the love of birds during the Great Backyard Bird Count. The GBBC is a fun event that anyone can join. Just go to your favorite birding place or backyard and count birds, then submit your checklist online. Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the  National Audubon SocietyCornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. 
Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes any day from Friday, February 18, through Monday, February 21, 2022. Then just log your results online. If you are new to the count, try using the Merlin Bird ID app. If you have participated in the count before, try eBird Mobile app. On the program website participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what birds other folks are reporting. In 2020, over 268,674 people from 194 countries counted an incredible 27,270,156 birds and identified 6,942 bird species! Join in the fun and count birds this year! 
More Than a Labor of Love
Susan Richardson
As birders, we all cherish the experience of seeing a new bird for the first time. Even before getting more seriously into birding in recent years, I would memorialize these events by writing the date and place in my field guides next to the entry for that bird. That system served me well but proved a bit cumbersome whenever I updated to a new field guide or saw a species that is found in multiple regions for which I had different field guides. And I dared not think of what might happen if I misplaced a field guide on one of our outings. So, I resolved to one day put all my life bird sightings into eBird and, upon retiring, I have finally had the opportunity to do so.

I’ve always admired our leaders who effortlessly input bird sightings into eBird when I joined our Saturday bird outings. I very quickly wished I had done the same, while giving thanks to the professional guides who’ve shared their checklists over the years. A fellow Board member joked that I needed to get an intern for this task; but in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t. It turned out to be a labor of love. 

Scanning back through old bird guides allowed me to reminisce on wonderful past vacations and outings where we saw incredible bird species. I was amazed to find that years before I had already encountered birds I’ve been thinking I’d like to see one day. And I was surprised to learn how many species have new common names! I was thrilled to receive an email from a Cornell volunteer clarifying that the Azure-Winged Magpie I saw in Spain was now the Iberian Magpie because scientists have split them out into a new species.

It took days of effort; worth it! I now have a life list that stays up to date with the latest scientific data and allows me to search a database. I’ll certainly be more diligent in using eBird in the future and will feel good about contributing as a community scientist. And I’ve recognized that eBird gives back. As I prepare to host our monthly bird outings for the Arms Around ASD folks, I reference recent eBird entries for that location to see what we can expect to find during our outing. Thank you to all of you who contribute to eBird! 
Beaver Bits
Text by Jay Wherley
It’s answer time for December’s Quiz!
1) How many different bird species are observed on average per year at BLBS?
a) 120 b) 220 c) 145 d) 170
Answer: d) 170 with high species counts of 173 in 2020 and 2017.

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
Answer: either a) or None of the Above are acceptable depending on interpretation of my poorly phrased question. In some years Cedar Waxwing is not seen during some Winter months, for example December 2018, February-April 2019, and February 2021.

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
Answer: b) Black Scoter.
(Sandhill Crane at BLBS in April 2019, Mississippi Kite in May 2021, and Long-tailed Duck in March 2014)
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
Answer: a) 2013 by Virginia Senechal
5) More species have been observed at BLBS than any spot in Buncombe County?
a) True b) False
Answer: a) True Over the years at least 228 species have been observed. Other “hotspots” in the county are Biltmore Estate 218, Warren Wilson/Owen Park 213, Lake Julian Park 199, Asheville School and Sandy Mush 147.
6) The land BLBS occupies was at one time a … ? a) Clubhouse b) Distillery c) Strip mall d) Museum
Answer: a) Clubhouse

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
Answer: 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
Answer: b) Trolley track and c) Cow pasture
At the time Beaver Lake was created in 1923, the trolley tracks that ran between Grace Church and Weaverville were covered by the newly man-made lake. Cows had also grazed in the area then known as Baird’s Bottom. A barnstorming airplane flown by famed aviator Lincoln Beachy made an appearance in 1911 – making Baird’s Bottom Asheville’s first landing strip. A civil war era gun battery was located at today’s Battery Park Hotel location in downtown Asheville.

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
Answer: b) Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

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
Answer: c) Chimney Swifts – reported in September 2015
Other high counts are: Mallard 110, Canada Geese 210, American Robin 150, European Starling 180

* * *
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Common Merganser and Common Raven

Henry Westall preparing to take off from Baird’s Bottom – now Beaver Lake on June 19, 1919
Lakeview Park Office/Clubhouse, Beaver Lake, c. 1920s
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.