The Raven's Nest
June 2020
Upcoming Events
EMAS Meetings & Walks are Free and Open to All!
President's Message
Dear friend,

These are unprecedented times we are living in. Our human world is rife with sadness, fear, outrage and sometimes, chaos. Like many of you, I turn to the natural world for comfort. Watching a cardinal feed her baby, or a seemingly joyful brown thrasher splashing in a bath, brings me great delight and a much needed sense of peace. 

In recent weeks, we have been a witness to the murder of George Floyd, the racism experienced by birder Christian Cooper in Central Park, and massive protests with millions of people flooding our nation’s streets. The undeniable truth is that racial injustice and inequality continues to pervade every facet and institution in our society.

With these painful times as a backdrop, I spent several hours online, along with thousands of others, to unite and celebrate the inaugural Black Birders Week . I was humbled. I learned so much about the obstacles and fears that Black birders face. Despite our different backgrounds and life experiences, we share so much. We are all people. And we are all people who love nature, and birds especially. 

I’m a very privileged white woman. I can’t possibly fully understand what it is like to be Black in America. But I can, and do, strive to stand on the side of justice and equality--unequivocally and without compromise. 

Our Audubon chapter is committed to being a community which unites and celebrates all people, a community where everyone who is interested in and loves birds, wildlife, and nature feels welcomed. 

On Friday, June 5th, our Audubon chapter took a small--but significant step--by starting the process of changing our name. Elisha Mitchell, our namesake, accomplished many things but he was also an avowed racist. The name change is not about erasing history but about acknowledging how our country’s history of racial injustice impacts people today. I sent a full statement about the name change to our Listserv subscribers. If you have not seen it, I invite you to read it here or on our Facebook page. Audubon North Carolina fully supports us in making this change. 

Our chapter is committed to making the outdoors and the joy of birds safe and welcoming for all people. I hope you will join us in doing the hard work to make this happen.

-Nancy Casey

Photos courtesy Jason and Jeremy Ward and Katherine Arntzen/Georgia Southern University
June Program Meeting
Join EMAS Online for a Special Program
A Murder of Crows and Other Clever Corvids!
Tuesday, June 16 at 7 p.m.
Note that you do not need a Facebook account to view the program. If you have trouble accessing the live video, try refreshing the EMAS Facebook page shortly after 7 pm. Alternatively, if you have "liked" our page and you're on a desktop computer, you can click Watch on the Facebook home page and then on Live to find our live feed. On a smartphone, click Live Videos. If you can't watch it live, the recording will be available on Facebook to watch anytime.
The Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society invites you to join international bird guide Aaron Steed for an informative talk about the fascinating Corvid family. Crows, Ravens, and Blue Jays have long been maligned, mythologized and misunderstood. Often living in close proximity to people, they are easily recognizable but not necessarily the most beloved of birds. Recent research has shown that they are highly intelligent birds. Their behavioral traits, unusual in most bird species, include cooperative breeding, long-term pair and family bonds, caching of food and use of tools. Aaron will provide insight into the complex behaviors, social structures, and incredible intelligence exhibited by members of this group. A special focus will be given to those species which occur in WNC, and how to identify them. 
Aaron Steed has always been interested in birds and nature. Originally from Wilmington, NC, Aaron is a graduate of the UNC-Asheville Biology department. He has worked across the U.S. in numerous ornithological field positions focused primarily on endangered species. Aaron is currently office manager and tour guide at Ventures Birding Tours in Asheville. He has led international bird tours to Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Honduras, Belize, Peru, Cuba, and Spain as well as tours all across America. He lives in West Asheville with his wife and menagerie of cats, dogs and chickens.

All EMAS programs are free and open to the public.

Blue Jay by Brian Kushner/Audubon Photo Awards
Elisha Mitchell Audubon
Board of Directors Elections and Bylaws Vote
Because we are not meeting in person in June, the EMAS Nominating Committee is presenting the 2020 slate for online vote by our members. Our slate for the board consists of Marianne Mooney (Vice President), Linda Walker (Treasurer) and At-Large Members Danielle DiBella-Lenaway, Monica Schwalbach, Tom Tribble, and Jay Wherley.

In addition to the slate, there will also be a vote on changes to the EMAS Bylaws. The changes include an updated mission statement to reflect more accurately our commitment to bird protection, a newly added vision statement, and other minor edits.  Click here  to read the proposed by-law changes and members please click here to vote for the EMAS Board of Directors slate.

As always, we thank our renewing board members for giving their time and talents to serving on the EMAS board. We hope to present a slate with new board members by September. 
Elisha Mitchell Audubon
Treasured Board Members Farewell!
 We are saddened to say goodbye at the end of June to several board members who have contributed so much to EMAS. Our entirely volunteer organization runs on the contributions and energy of our members. We are extremely appreciative of the time and talents that board members bring to the table in sustaining our chapter and all the work they do to promote birds and birding. We are grateful for their participation and they have heartfelt thanks from our board and our membership. Since we can't meet in person to thank our board members at our June meeting, we have written about their contributions and extend to them our deepest appreciation. Please follow this link to read short bios about our departing members.

EMAS board members, September 2019
Everyone Can Birdathon Results
by Jay Wherley
 Over the weekend of May 15-17, EMAS birders and friends submitted their entries as “All One Team” for the annual EMAS birdathon. Thirty-five lists were posted from individuals, pairs, and families ranging in expertise from Beginner through Intermediate, Enthusiast, Dang Good and Expert. 40% of the people birded at and around their homes. The remainder visited parks and other birding locations, with some people even birding by kayak. The total number of bird species observed was an amazing 140! Check out the total bird list by clicking here . This is a record number for an EMAS birdathon, beating any of the past individual team species counts which usually totaled around 130.

Some of the more unique species noted were: American Woodcock, Black-billed Cuckoo, Bobolink, Cerulean Warbler, Chuck-wills’s Widow, Golden-winged Warbler, Grasshopper Sparrow, Kentucky Warbler, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Ruffed Grouse, Swainson’s Warbler, and Yellow-breasted Chat.

Everyone had a memorable time and we received many wonderful online comments about special moments and birds from almost everyone who participated. Several folks saw birds that were lifers, and others shared experiences they had in wilderness areas, on rivers or in local parks. We plan to make this an annual event, and hope that more people will participate next year.

Whether you counted birds or not, there is another important way that you contribute—you can make a Birdathon donation. This year, without our teams to fund raise, we focused on the$1,000 UNCAsheville Environmental Studies student scholarship, with money over that amount going to an American Bird Conservancy project in Columbia that protects and restores habitat for neo-tropical migrants that nest here in Western North Carolina. To make a donation, visit   our website and use PayPal   or mail a check to: EMAS Birdathon, PO Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814.

Thank you for your support!

To read some of the highlights of the participants, click here . The comments will make Everyone want to Birdathon next year!
Beaver Bits
Collected by Jay Wherley
I asked area birders for their most memorable birding experience at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Here’s the second batch of recollections.
“Many years ago, and new to Asheville, I was out looking for good places to go birding. On one of my first trips to BLBS I knew I'd struck gold. Perched on a tree about 20 ft away... lo and behold a Cerulean warbler! Just then a man rounded the corner and walked towards me. At that time, Tom Tribble was a stranger to me, but because he was adorned with binoculars, I recognized him as a ‘friendly’ -- a fellow birder :-) I pointed out the Cerulean and Tom was over-the-moon excited. You never know what you'll find at BLBS. That day it was an amazing bird and a new--and now, lifelong-- friend!” Nancy Casey
“I would have to say my most memorable sighting was May 21, 2018, when I spotted my first ever Blackpoll Warbler. It was flitting around the south overlook and finally appeared in the open and I was able to get a photo. This warbler seemed very special because it was one of the less common warblers to my way of thinking. Its black cap and yellow-orange legs confirmed my thrilling find.” Alan Lenk
"In May 2018, I was on my way out of the sanctuary when I heard an unfamiliar song from the woods West of the filter pond. Knowing it was something interesting, I was hoping not to lose it before confirming ID. Luckily the bird kept singing, and I was able to track down and see a male Mourning Warbler! I was able to get a sound recording of the song and Alan Lenk got an ID photo.” Jay Wherley

* * *
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Black-billed Cuckoo and Least Bittern.

Images from Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary:
Black-billed Cuckoo, April 30, 2020, Jay Wherley
Mourning Warbler, May 2018, Alan Lenk
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.

Marianne Mooney

 Our mission 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