The Raven's Nest
May 2020
Upcoming Events
EMAS Meetings & Walks are Free and Open to All!
Join EMAS for the "Everyone Can" Birdathon!

This is the time of year when our Birdathon teams would normally pile into a car together at 5 a.m. and head out for an epic 18-hour birding adventure. But this year, we’re going to do the Birdathon a bit differently. We’re calling it the just-for-fun "Everyone Can" Birdathon !
This is the 30th Anniversary of our Birdathon and this year we are all one big team! Everyone can participate, anywhere, anytime and do your own "Big Day". Pick either May 15 th , 16 th or 17 th and keep track of all the bird species you see or hear all day long. Bird wherever you'd like: your feeders, off your balcony, in your backyard, at local parks, or any location near you. Please be mindful and practice social distancing.

We will have three categories of birding locales: At Home , My Neighborhood , and Anywhere and one special age category: Under 16 ! We are really excited to see what species our younger birders can find.

Simply fill out this form and put a checkmark next to all the species you saw during your Big Day. We'll create a full tally of all the bird species sighted and let you know the results. Be sure to post your favorite photos of your Birdathon memories to Facebook and tag Elisha Mitchell Audubon @emasnc !
Whether you count birds or not, there is another important way that you contribute—you can make a donation. As always, the Birdathon also serves as a fundraiser that supports an American Bird Conservancy project focused on the neo-tropical migrants that nest here in Western North Carolina. We also fund a $1000 scholarship for a UNCAsheville Environmental Studies student. This year, since we won’t be doing our regular Birdathon fundraising, we want to at least raise enough money to cover the scholarship. Young people will need help more than ever. This scholarship provides  a deserving student with funds that can make a real difference as they study for a career in conservation. To make a donation, visit our website and use PayPal or mail a check to: EMAS Birdathon, PO Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814.
The EMAS Birdathon has been a wonderful fundraiser and fun time since 1990. We are disappointed we can’t be together to celebrate our region’s bird diversity. However, we look forward to tallying all the species our members find in their own corner of our beautiful area and appreciate in advance your support of our fundraiser. Thank You!
Stay well everyone -- and enjoy those birds out there!

-Nancy Casey
May Program Meeting
Join EMAS Online for a Special Program!
Bird Communication: More Than Just Songs!
Tuesday, May 19 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.
For most people, bird communication is synonymous with bird songs. However, singing is just one of many ways in which birds transmit information to one another. Birds also use sonation, color, pattern, and dancing to send messages. This program will address three questions: (1) What are birds communicating about? (2) How are they communicating this? (3) Why, in the broadest sense, are they doing this anyway? We will explore examples from both local species and those from around the world, highlighting the broad and fascinating diversity of avian communication.
Dr. Olya Milenkaya loves wildlife and wild places. As a Professor of Conservation Biology at Warren Wilson College, she has the privilege of sharing this enthusiasm with students in her courses which include animal behavior, conservation biology, and ornithology, among others. She also enjoys mentoring college students in their independent research, spanning a variety of topics from the behavior of cavity-nesting birds to the conservation of salamanders. Olya studied the physiological ecology of Crimson Finches in Australia for her doctoral research and earned her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 2013.

All EMAS programs are free and open to the public.

Black-throated Blue warbler by Alan Lenk
Elisha Mitchell Audubon Elections:
Board of Directors/Bylaws
The Nominating Committee will present the proposed candidate for the EMAS Board of Directors at the June 16 program meeting. All EMAS members are encouraged to vote. 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. These folks are all current members of the board.

There will also be a vote on proposed changes to the chapter by-laws. 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.

In addition, late last year we said farewell to board member Bethany Sheffer. We thank Bethany for her wonderful service -- and we wish her well in her new Audubon position in Connecticut!

To fill Bethany's vacant position, the board appointed Kelley Coleman. Kelley helped start the UNCA Audubon campus chapter last year and served as Treasurer. Nowadays she's doing a fabulous job leading our shade-grown coffee initiative. We're very pleased to welcome Kelley to the Board. Click here to "meet" Kelley !

While there are a few members leaving the board, the Nominating Committee is not able to interview new applicants due to the stay-at-home rule. Because of the uncertainty on holding a meeting at the Reuter Center, look for a link to an online vote in the June newsletter.

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. 
Bird Notes
by Rick Pyeritz
 Diane Ackerman in her book, Natural History of the Senses, makes the claim that nothing is more memorable than a smell. My initial reaction to this bold statement was negative. The more I reflected on this olfactory hubris, I came around to agreeing with her. The sweet summer morning smell of my grandmother’s farm in western Pennsylvania, the odor of an eastern salt marsh, the pungent nasal hair searing stench of a Pittsburgh steel mill, the bouquet of a fine Bordeaux all seemed to provide evidence to support her claim. Now what does this have to do with birds? For me, the smell of the Atlantic Ocean will always be linked with the presence of Sanderlings. To learn about this fascinating shorebird— follow this link .
Sanderling photo by Paul VanDerWef
Beaver Bits
Collected by Jay Wherley
I asked area birders for their most memorable birding experience at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Here’s the first batch of recollections – more next month.
“I remember July 2, 2007 when the lake was drawn down for repairs, I believe. I found 2 immature Black-crowned Night-Herons , an immature White Ibis and best of all, a single Willet on the far end of the lake. I know the locals hate it when the lake is drawn down, but I love it, probably because I am a shorebird addict!” Simon Thompson

“My most memorable moment came when I was helping in the recent Beaver Lake Cleanup. The lake was low and when I looked over at an exposed mudflat, there was a Sandhill Crane . Good deeds do get rewarded!!” – Kitti Reynolds
“Not long ago, I was leading a bird walk at BLBS. We were checking out a tree where Brown-headed Nuthatches were nesting. As we watched, 3 or 4 adults flew to a point right above the cavity. A nestling stuck his head out and then made his maiden flight to a Sycamore tree while two adults followed. A second nestling stuck its head out, flew directly toward our group and landed on Joyce Birkenholz's blue jeans, perching just below her knee. We stood there gaping. An adult nuthatch flew over and landed about a foot from Joyce's shoe. In bird language, I presume the adult said to the nestling "that's not a tree," and after 10 seconds, they both flew off.” – Tom Tribble
* * *
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Bonaparte’s Gull and Common Loon

Images by Jay Wherley:
Sandhill Crane at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary – April 2019
Brown-headed Nuthatch at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary – June 2018 
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