Upcoming Events

Birding Events

Join Blue Ridge Audubon for birding on these Saturdays.

Free and open to all.

Many thanks to the guides at Ventures Birding

for leading our outings.

October 14, 8 a.m.

Note start time for special event

Jackson Park

October 21, 9 a.m.

Owen Park

November 4, 9 a.m.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

November 11, 9 a.m.

Jackson Park


Farewell to Fall Migration

Birding event at Jackson Park

Saturday, October 14, 8 a.m.

Rules of the Roost

Chimney Swift Program

Reuter Center, UNCA

Tuesday, October 24, 7 p.m. 

Plants for Birds Outing

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

Saturday, October 28, 1 p.m.

Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, November 14, 6:30 p.m.

To attend, email:

Visit our website:
President's Message

Dear Nancy,

Fall is well underway. If the abundant acorns underfoot on my front walk were not a plain indicator of this, the glaring absence at my hummingbird feeder certainly is. The adult male that dominated my feeder in August left several weeks ago, leaving the feeder available for gleeful young birds and females. Even yesterday two birds were fueling up, but today they have set off for the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Safe travels–see you in the spring!

At Beaver Lake, autumn is omnipresent as well. There, too, the hummingbirds have abandoned the groves of Jewelweed which themselves have seeded and are withering fast. The Joe-pye weed and Goldenrod in the meadow are attracting Nashville Warblers and American Goldfinches to feast on the seeds and accompanying insects. And the first Blue-winged Teal of the season have been seen on the water.

Our Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is in much better shape than it has been in years. Many of the invasive plants have been eradicated and replaced with native plants. The removal of invasive plants like English Ivy and Japanese Stiltgrass are herculean tasks that require repeated attention, while the restoration of marsh marigolds and other natives has required thoughtful, deliberate plantings and cultivation. Art and Alicia Hulse have been two of the most dedicated volunteers and the fountainheads of much of this work. Alicia also breathed vibrant new life into the Gardening for Birds plot by the parking lot this year. Another volunteer, Florrie Funk, has tirelessly and selflessly led workdays at 10:00 am every Tuesday since spring. Board member Tom Tribble has spent immeasurable time and effort organizing group workdays, and more importantly over the years has ensured that the upkeep at Beaver Lake happens. We’d love to have you join us in volunteering to maintain our Sanctuary. If you’re interested, contact BLBS coordinator Tom Tribble, Learn more about volunteering with your chapter in the article below. 

On behalf of the thousands of people who enjoy the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary every year, I’d like to express a heartfelt Thank You to Alicia, Art, Florrie, and Tom. They are a big reason that Beaver Lake is cherished by so many! If you happen to see these or other wonderful volunteers at work while you walk through the sanctuary, please pass on your appreciation.

John Koon

President, Blue Ridge Audubon

American goldfinch, Jen St. Louis

Rules of the Roost:

Into the Chimneys with Swifts!

Blue Ridge Audubon Program

7 p.m. Tuesday, October 24

Reuter Center, UNCA

or watch with this Zoom link

Swifts are a unique group of aerial acrobats that can eat and even sleep on the wing. In eastern North America, Chimney Swifts form huge communal roosts in urban chimneys during their fall migration. Andrew Laughlin, along with undergraduate research students from UNC Asheville, studied the local roosts during the fall of 2020 and found that these chimneys serve different roles throughout the autumn roosting season: some chimneys were active throughout the season, while others were only active part of the time. This talk will explore the natural urban phenomenon of Chimney Swift roosting behavior and make the case for the importance of urban chimneys to preserve this unique phenomenon. 

Dr. Andrew Laughlin is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at UNC Asheville. Dr. Laughlin teaches Principles of Ecology and Field Biology, Avian Ecology and Conservation, Wildlife Ecology and Management, and Urban Ecology. His research interests include movement and migration ecology, and animal responses to environmental change, with a focus on birds. Dr. Laughlin attended UNCA in 2004 as a post-baccalaureate student and began a research project on Hermit Thrushes. Following that, he did research on Hermit Thrush and Veery habitat associations, and a study on Tree Swallow ecology. In 2015, Dr. Laughlin began work in UNCA’s Environmental Studies Department where he teaches and conducts his current research.

Swift photo by Jerry Jourdan

Chapter Events and More

Migration Extravaganza

at Jackson Park

Saturday, October 14 at 8 a.m.

Fall migration will soon be over but it will end with a free special event. Ventures Birding Tours will lead a migration extravaganza at Jackson Park, Hendersonville, NC at 8 a.m. this Saturday, October 14. This is the same day as the regularly scheduled Blue Ridge Audubon Jackson Park walk. Ventures leaders will take groups around the park to see what migrants will be moving through. There is no charge, so come along and enjoy the big event. Join any group you like and maybe, just maybe, Ventures’ guide Clifton Avery will once again find a Connecticut Warbler.

Thank you, Ventures Birding Tours!

Join Randy Richardson at the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary on Saturday, October 28, 1 p.m. for the season's last Plants for Birds outing. Randy will take you on a tour of the late bloomers at the Sanctuary. Catch sight of Goldfinches and late migrants mingling in among the flowers. Tours will resume in March.

Our inaugural Birds and Bagels event at Ridge Junction in September was a great success. We had 60 folks, loads of bagels and spectacular skies filled with migrating birds. It was so popular that we plan to make this a yearly event.

At our Swift Night Out on September 28, almost 400 people turned out to watch the fantastic spectacle of Chimney Swifts soaring around and diving into chimneys. Sadly, the rain made a brief appearance, dampening the night’s event. Nonetheless, we were delighted by the number of folks enthusiastic about seeing the Chimney Swifts put on their show! Be sure and come to our October 24th program on Chimney Swifts to learn more about these fascinating birds!

Connecticut Warbler by Mark Johnson

Volunteer with Blue Ridge Audubon

Are you passionate about birds? Do you want to help keep Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter a thriving and relevant organization? Become a volunteer to help us soar to new heights! Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter is looking for dedicated volunteers to get involved in our organization. Just a few of our volunteer needs are listed here. You can find out more on our website.



If you have a knack for numbers and know some financial basics like excel, please consider becoming our Treasurer. You will help ensure that our organization's funds are well-maintained, and that our budget is balanced. A willingness to join our board and some financial expertise is all you need. Contact current treasurer Linda Walker,, to talk about what’s involved.


Leaders for Local School Field Trips

Help us offer school field trip opportunities at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary! We need your help leading class groups for local elementary and early middle schools. Sarah Branagan, former UNCAsheville Audubon Club president, created lesson plans for grades 1-6 that are in line with the North Carolina Standards of Learning for curriculum as it applies to our Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Blue Ridge Audubon board member Casey Girard,

Lights Out Program

Join our Lights Out team and help us reach out to the community on the importance of turning outdoor lights off during migration and making windows visible to birds. This volunteer opportunity has a direct effect on saving bird lives. If you love birds, you can make a real difference by helping with this initiative. Please contact Danielle Lenaway, to learn more.


Newsletter Editor

Our newsletter is the lifeline of our organization, providing valuable information about local birding opportunities, conservation efforts, and upcoming events. We are seeking someone with a flair for writing and editing to put together our 10 issues a year newsletter. Your creativity and passion will help us inform and engage our members and the wider community. Contact our newsletter editor Marianne Mooney,, to find out the details.


If you're interested in volunteering and want to learn more, please fill out the volunteer survey on our website and we’ll get in touch with you. We offer many other opportunities for you to connect with a supportive community of fellow bird enthusiasts. We look forward to welcoming you to the Blue Ridge Audubon team and working together to make a positive difference for birds and people. 

Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley

Let’s talk about some birds we can look for during October at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary.

1) Nashville Warbler – the last two weeks of October are the best time of the year to find this species on site. Look for this bird actively foraging in the pollinator meadow and similar areas at waist height and below. Note the bold eye-ring and sharp bill. The presence of white on the central/rear belly helps distinguish this bird from other similarly patterned warblers.

2) Marsh Wren – the first two weeks of October are the best time of the year to find this secretive bird. Listen for the harsh chip notes in the central marsh area off the wooden bridge. White streaks on black back help separate this species from other wrens. Patience may be required to get a view of this bird as it forages in cover.

3) Orange-crowned Warbler – another late migrant that usually shows up in October. Somewhat similar to the more common Tennessee Warbler, this bird features a yellow vent area (v.s. white on Tennessee). A broken white eye-ring is usually visible. Often found foraging low like the Nashville.

4) Lincoln’s Sparrow – look for a finely marked dapper version of a Song Sparrow. Pencil thin streaks on a buffy breast area are different than the blotchier brown-on-white markings of the Song. If you are not sure, it’s probably a Song Sparrow.

5) Philadelphia Vireo – this vireo tends to only be present in the Fall here. Look for a smaller and cuter faced version of the Red-eyed Vireo sans the dark line over white eyebrow. Some amount of pale-yellow coloring will always show on the throat. This bird usually forages higher in the trees. The song is nearly identical to Red-eyed Vireo – the Merlin app often misidentifies their songs. (See last month’s column for a photo.)

* * *

Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Mourning Warbler and Common Raven.


Marsh Wren, October 2016, Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

Lincoln’s Sparrow, October 2015, Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

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.
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