Upcoming Events
Birding Events

Blue Ridge Audubon's Saturday morning field trips are open to all. We are encouraging everyone to wear a mask.

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

Sept 18, 8 a.m. Owen Park

October 2, 9 a.m.

October 9, 9 a.m. Jackson Park

October 16, 9 a.m. Owen Park

Blue Ridge Audubon
Program Meeting
Tuesday, September 21, 7 p.m.
Reuter Center, UNCAsheville
or watch on our Facebook page

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary
Volunteer Work Day
Saturday, Sept 18th at 9 a.m.

Swift Night Out!
Thursday, Sept 30th at 6:45 p.m.

Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, Oct 5 at 6:15 p.m.
Our board meetings are open to everyone. Email us if you'd like to attend:
Blue Ridge Audubon News
Dear friend,

The Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville delivered a presentation on bird-window collisions to Asheville City Council during the Informal Public Comment session of the August 24th meeting. All four speakers, representatives of Blue Ridge Audubon and UNCA Audubon, called into the meeting and spoke to the city council members about the problem of fatal bird-window collisions in Asheville. Paulina Jones, a senior at UNC Asheville and Vice-President of the UNCA Audubon Chapter, highlighted the main causes of collisions: reflectivity, transparency, and artificial lighting at night. She also presented her research from the UNCA campus that yielded nearly 150 bird fatalities around eight campus buildings as evidence of the problem in our community. Clayton Gibb, a recent graduate of UNCA, talked about the perilous migration of birds through our area and the value they bring to our city. Sarah Branagan, a senior at UNC Asheville and President of the UNCA Audubon Chapter, presented on one feasible solution to fatal bird-window collisions in the city of Asheville — a lights-out program. She suggested that city-owned buildings turn off interior lights at night and that exterior lights be positioned downward or shut off to reduce light pollution and energy consumption. Danielle DiBella-Lenaway closed out the presentation by restating the benefits of a lights-out program and the importance of birds to our city and the world. Because the group presented in the Informal Public Comment portion, they were not able to get immediate feedback. The group is looking to arrange a more formal presentation in the coming months. The presentation in its entirety can be watched here. More information about the Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville can be found here.

Sarah Branagan
Staunch Defenders or Clueless Parents:
How Carolina Chickadees Respond to Invasive House Wrens
by Olya Milenkaya
Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter Program
Tuesday, September 21, 7 p.m.
Reuter Center, UNCAsheville
or watch on our Facebook page
An accelerating trend around the world is the re-shuffling of species into new combinations. Through anthropogenic climate change, global shipping, the pet trade, and habitat modification, humans are facilitating the breakdown of natural dispersal barriers and moving species into new communities. Some become established in their new homes, spread, and cause conservation problems for native species who do not have evolutionary defenses for this new pathogen, predator, or competitor.

One relatively new competitor of the local breeding bird community is the House Wren. These adorable birds are widely distributed, but they were not recorded as breeders in the Asheville area until 1940. Since then, they have spread and grown in number. House Wrens may pose a threat to native cavity-nesting birds such as Carolina Chickadees if House Wrens are out-competing other birds for nesting cavities which are already highly coveted and limited. Indeed, House Wrens are fierce and effective competitors. How do native breeding birds like Carolina Chickadees respond to this novel competitor? Do they even recognize House Wrens as a threat? Some preliminary research at Warren Wilson College aims to shed light on how Carolina Chickadee parents respond to this new member of their community.
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 Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter programs are free and open to the public. Please note that by attending a program at the Reuter Center, you attest to being fully vaccinated and are required to wear a mask or face covering.

Carolina chickadee by Jay Wherley
Swift Night Out
Thursday, September 30th, 6:45 p.m.
It's Chimney Swift season, an exciting time of year to see swirling clouds of Swifts as they gather at sunset to enter communal roosting sites. The Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter (BRAC) will sponsor our annual Swift Night Out, a Chimney Swift viewing event scheduled for dusk in downtown Asheville. We'll meet at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, September 30th on the top floor of the Civic Center Parking Deck. Please check our website and our Facebook page  for updates.  
On the Wing
by Noah Poulos
This time of year, our cities, parks, and neighborhoods are enlivened with the high-pitched chatter and soaring flights of Chimney Swifts overhead. Small birds with dark gray-brown plumage, Chimney Swifts flock together in fall, gracing urban skies with their amazing aerial maneuvers. Chimney Swifts are fascinating and important members of our urban ecosystem. They spend much of their lives on the wing, acrobatically maneuvering through the air to catch hundreds of insects. Incredibly, they also mate and sleep on the wing! Chimney Swifts cannot perch on limbs, fences, and wires, but must cling vertically to surfaces. They nest and breed in urban environments due to the high concentration of chimneys, which offer ideal vertical substrate to perch, nest, and rest on. Historically these birds nested in caves and in hollows of old-growth trees, but as those environments were replaced by farms, towns, and neighborhoods, the swifts adapted.
Despite their abundance in urban environments, Chimney Swifts have seen a 72% decline in population since 1965, putting them on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threatened list. Although they adapted well to the influx of development in the 19th and 20th centuries, modern homes often do not have suitable chimneys, and many unused traditional brick chimneys are beginning to deteriorate or get capped by homeowners. In response, birders, educators, and community members have rallied to conserve these wonderful birds by erecting swift towers around North Carolina. You can come check out Blue Ridge Audubon’s tower at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Learn more from Audubon North Carolina about what actions you can take to help Chimney Swifts!

Chimney Swift in flight by Alan Lenk, Chimney Swift on the nest by Greg Lasley
Beaver Lake Workday Kudos
Our thanks to the 18 volunteers who pitched in at the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary workday on August 28. Great progress was made removing Japanese stiltgrass, Porcelain berry seedlings, and English ivy. A dozen wheelbarrow loads of branch piles were schlepped out of the Sanctuary as well. All the educational signs were cleaned and shined by Joyce Birkenholz. A special shoutout goes to the Crosson family, Julie, Andrew and children Addie and Gus, for cutting up and carting off most of the Sycamore tree that went down next to the entrance. Blue Ridge Audubon is very grateful to the many people who give of their time and energy to work at the Sanctuary. Thanks to the other volunteers at our workday: Leanne Apfelbeckn, Anne and Dickson Bridgers, Alicia and Art Hulse, Doug Johnston, Diane Matheson, Carl Nyberg, Douglas Rao, Kitti Reynolds, Bonnie Snyder, Leslie Stewart and Tom Tribble.

The next BLBS workday is Saturday, September 18 at 9 a.m. The plan is to remove more Japanese Stiltgrass, Porcelainberry seedlings and English ivy. Wear long pants, gloves and a long-sleeved shirt as there is some poison ivy. For questions, please email Tom Tribble at

Thank you all for your support of Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary.
SEE Camp: Learning About Birds
By Susan Richardson
On June 29, Blue Ridge Audubon hosted a 'Birding by Ear' Student Enrichment Experience (SEE) Day Camp for blind and vision-impaired children. The SEE Day Camps are sponsored by IFB Solutions and we were thrilled to provide a birding experience at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and the NC Arboretum. The campers began their day at BLBS learning bird sounds and identifying the birds they heard along the boardwalk. While remarking on key traits of the birds we heard, the children were asked to imitate some of the birds’ behaviors, such as sticking out their tongues like woodpeckers do to reach their food, and the campers enthusiastically participated. We gave each camper a turkey feather, talked about topics like why birds have feathers, discussed bird habitats, migration and the importance of conservation. The campers were also able to feel demonstration bird nests and learn about the different nests that birds create.
After a fun-filled morning, we traveled to the NC Arboretum for lunch and the afternoon session. Anthony Squitieri, with Wild Bird Research Group, Inc, talked to the campers about bird mist netting and bird banding. The children were able to hold the bands and they asked lots of questions. The campers were then led along the Natural Garden Trail where they learned about the trees, wildflowers, geology, and diversity of our region. The campers were able to feel the bark of trees, the softness of mosses, and smell the aromatic leaves of spicebush and sassafras. The campers and volunteers enjoyed the day and we look forward to hosting them again next year.
Beaver Bits
Text and photos by Jay Wherley
Birding in September at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary can be a very productive month. Almost 150 species have been seen during this month over the years – second only to April for “best” month of the year. With respect to quantity in the month, the highest count of a single species is a “swoop” of 500 Chimney Swifts in 2015. Cedar Waxwing is second at an “ear-full” of 150 birds in 2018. Third was an amazing spectacle of a Blue-winged Teal “dopping” containing 125 ducks in 2015.
The most unusual September observations might be Ring-billed Gull in 2010, Sora in 2016, or Olive-sided Flycatcher in 2017. None of those species has been reported during September since those sightings.

* * *
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Kentucky Warbler and Great Egret.
Great Egret, Beaver Lake, September 2014
Sora, Beaver Lake, September 2015 in 2015.
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.