Upcoming Events
Bird Walks

We're happy to announce that Blue Ridge Audubon Bird Walks are now open to all with no sign up needed. Unvaccinated birders must wear a mask.

Many thanks to the guides at Ventures Birding
who are leading our walks.

June 12, 8 am, Jackson Park

June 19, 8 am, Owen Park

BRAC Programs

Blue Ridge Audubon monthly fall programs are scheduled to begin on September 21. Stay tuned for details on where and how we will meet. We're hoping to meet in person at UNCA's Reuter Center this fall but are waiting for their reopening plans to be made public.

BRAC Board Meeting
Tuesday, Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Board of Director meetings are open to everyone.
Email us if you'd like to attend on Zoom:
Blue Ridge Audubon News
Dear friend,

Over the weekend of May 14-16, Blue Ridge Audubon birders and friends went birding for the Everyone Can Birdathon event. With all their checklists added together, they amassed 110 species of birds – quite a respectable number, and competitive with any of the "official" Birdathon teams. The birders varied in their skills, from "Beginner" to "Dang Good" and birded from their homes to local birding hot spots like the Sandy Mush Game Lands. We even had a submission from birders kayaking along the Catawba River. People birded as groups, families, couples and individuals.

Rare sightings included *Connecticut Warbler*, Marsh Wren, and Golden-winged Warbler. Also in the combined total were two species of owls, four vireo species, five species of flycatchers, and 23 warbler species.

Everyone had a great time and shared some special experiences:

***Loved seeing wonderful warblers near my house!

***I did only a half-hearted big day, preferring to spend hours trying (and failing) to actually see the Connecticut Warbler at the Norco Tract. At least I heard it singing! I ended up finding 78 species during the day, so I'm going to donate $78 to Blue Ridge Audubon.

***My day was spent just listening to and appreciating spring bird songs, from the first robin at 5:30 a.m. to the last Screech owl hoot at 10 p.m. The sounds of birds are a wonderful part of spring for which I'm always grateful.

Whether you counted birds or not, there is another important way to participate—you can make a Birdathon donation. This year donations will go to a UNCAsheville Environmental Studies student scholarship and 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 donate, visit our website to pay online (specify Birdathon) or mail a check to: Blue Ridge Audubon Birdathon, PO Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814.

Thank you for your support!
Birdathon Teams' Battle of the Birds
Our four Blue Ridge Audubon Birdathon teams have battled, or rather, birded it out, and we have a winner! The teams all gave it their best, birding for one very long day trying to see or hear as many bird species as possible. Having a plan, stamina, and an in-depth knowledge of birds and bird songs is essential. Tolerating driving all over Western North Carolina crammed in a car in a birding frenzy is critical. It's all great fun and for the worthy conservation cause of helping Golden-winged Warblers, Wood Thrush, and other neotropical migratory birds thrive on their wintering grounds. 

The teams have done their part and now they ask for your help. The Birdathon, and the efforts of the teams, are meaningless without your generous donation. We are most grateful and so appreciate your support in making the Birdathon a success. Please follow this link to the Birdathon flyer, write a check to Blue Ridge Audubon and send to BRAC, P.O. Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814. You can also donate online at the Blue Ridge Audubon website and note that it's for the Birdathon.
And now, for the fifth year in a row, the winning team is the Peregrines with 129 species, with two other teams closely on their "tails". The Not-So-Common Loons tallied 127 species while the Beaver Lake Bluebirds came in a close third with 124 species. The newest Birdathon team, What the Hoot! trailed the pack with 58 species but had a great time. Read the exciting tales of the teams and their big days at this link. Our congratulations to the Peregrine's team of great and budding birders!

Top: Golden-winged Warbler by Alan Lenk
Bottom: Aaron Steed, Simon Thompson, Banks and Clifton Avery. Team Peregrine also included Kevin Burke
Chapter Election:
Please vote by June 15!
At our April meeting, the Blue Ridge Audubon Board of Directors approved a slate of candidates presented by the Nominating Committee. The membership is asked to vote on the proposed candidates for the Board of Directors using the link shown below. We encourage all BRAC members to cast their vote. The 2021/2022 BRAC board slate is: Nancy Casey, President, and Kelley Coleman, Secretary. Current board members nominated as At-Large Members are Kristin Anderson and Susan Richardson. We are very pleased to nominate four new At-Large board members: John Koon, Yuhan (Douglas) Rao, Bonnie Snyder, and Leslie Stewart. There will also be a vote on a proposed change to the chapter by-laws, adding an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to the BRAC standing committees.

Please vote by June 15th by clicking this link. Get to know our new board candidates by reading about them here. We all thank our candidates for giving their time and talents to serving on the Blue Ridge Audubon board. When we can meet again in person, we look forward to introducing our new At-large directors to our chapter.
Let's Go Birding Together
by Susan Richardson
The month of June is National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. A couple of years ago, the National Audubon Society (NAS) launched a 'Let's GBirding Together' initiative, which includes LGBTQ-inclusive bird outings and merchandise such as T-shirts and buttons, in an effort to recognize and provide acceptance of the LGBTQ community. An article from the National Audubon, titled "For the LGBTQ Community, Birding Can Be a Relief—and a Source of Anxiety", highlights the joys and challenges of birding within the LGBTQ community. One contributor to the article noted that, while they "struggled with the experience of belonging," they didn't feel "categorized" while enjoying nature "because animals in the nonhuman world don't have the same judgment." On the other hand, the article states that "Nature reserves and wildlife refuges tend to be located in remote areas that lack diversity." 

As Chapter President Nancy Casey noted in our June 2020 Newsletter, "our chapter is committed to making the outdoors and the joy of birds safe and welcoming for all people." We made the important decision to change the name of our Chapter, we established an Equity/Diversity/Inclusion (EDI) Committee, and we have hosted events and activities with participation from our diverse communities. While we are beginning to see the easing of some of the pandemic-related restrictions, we will be ramping up our efforts to schedule additional EDI-related events and initiatives. If you are interested in volunteering with the EDI Committee, please email us at and let us know!
Bird Notes
by Rick Pyeritz
T. H. Huxley (1825-1895), a prominent English biologist and pugnacious defender of Darwin’s theory of evolution, once stated that birds are “glorified reptiles.” The discovery of a unique fossil in Bavaria in 1855, known as Archaeopteryx lithographica, had features of birds and reptiles. The presence of a toothed jaw, long bony tail, clawed fingers, heavily feathered tail and wings, along with contour feathers, convinced most paleontologists of the reptilian heritage of birds as eloquently stated by Charles Marsh, a leading American paleontologist:
“The class of birds and reptiles, as now living, are separated by a gulf so profound that a few years since it was cited by the opponents of evolution as the most important break in the animal series and one which that doctrine could not bridge over. Since then, as Huxley has clearly shown, this gap has been virtually filled by the discovery of bird-like reptiles and reptilian birds. Archaeopteryx of the old world is the steppingstone by which the evolutionist of today leads the doubting brother across the shallow remnant of the gulf once thought impassable.”
If you would like to review the differences between reptiles and birds, follow the link.
Eco-Filter Wetland Restored
Blue Ridge Audubon is happy to report that the ecofilter wetland at our Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is restored. Hurray! After almost 23 months, it was wonderful to see a mallard and four ducklings dabbling in the pond before the dredging was even complete. Soon turtles, frogs and minnows will return and, in the fall, perhaps a Spotted Sandpiper or a Northern Waterthrush will stop by before continuing their migration to Latin America.
To recap, in June 2019, a storm water drainpipe failure under a parking lot on Merrimon Avenue south of the Sanctuary resulted in the deposition of more than 1,000 cubic yards of sediment, rocks and other material into the ecofilter wetland. The owner of the property was issued a Notice of Violation by the NC Department of Environmental Quality and required to remove the material and restore the wetland.
In late May, the last of 84 dump trucks of sediment, rocks and muck was hauled away. Native wetland rushes and sedges were planted around the edge of the pond and will eventually spread into it. Arrow Arum, a plant that absorbs pollutants entering the wetland from storm drain runoff, will emerge from still-buried roots. The ecofilter wetland, constructed in 1999 with a grant from the NC Clean Water Management Fund, can once again fulfill its intended purpose - protecting the water quality of Beaver Lake and downstream waters. We are grateful to Pearce Mottershead, owner of South Core Environmental, who did a wonderful job of restoring the wetland.
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.