Upcoming Events

Birding Events

Join Blue Ridge Audubon for birding on these Saturdays.

Note October time change!

Free and open to all.

Many thanks to the guides at Ventures Birding

for leading our outings.

September 9, 8 a.m.

Jackson Park

September 16, 8 a.m.

Owen Park

October 7, 9 a.m.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

October 14, 9 a.m.

Jackson Park

October 21, 9 a.m.

Owen Park


Birds and Bagels

Ridge Junction, Blue Ridge Pkwy

Sunday, September 10, 8 a.m.

A Wing and a Prayer Book Talk

North Carolina Arboretum

Thursday, September 14, 6 p.m. 

Plants for Birds Walk

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

Saturday, September 16, 1 p.m.

Swift Night Out

Civic Center Parking Garage

Thursday, September 28, 7 p.m.

Chimney Swift Talk

Reuter Center, UNCAsheville

Tuesday, October 24, 7 p.m.

Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, October 10, 6:30 p.m.

To attend, email:

Visit our website:
President's Message

Dear Nancy,

Fall is arriving. Though the temperatures are not yet telling us this, the birds certainly are. My yard has been seeing some roving bands of warblers flit through the oak trees fattening up for their upcoming journeys. Shorebirds are showing up at fields and wetlands as they stopover on their trip from the Arctic to the tropics. And I have noticed that the Chimney Swifts are on the move now too--with groups showing up in different places and in numbers greater than before.


This fall Blue Ridge Audubon has a lot going on with Chimney Swifts. Our annual Swift Night Out is scheduled for Thursday, September 28, on the roof of the Civic Center parking garage downtown. Last year we had about 220 people and around 3000 Chimney Swifts show up for the event which culminates with a tornado of swifts swirling down into a nearby chimney as daylight fades. It’s an incredible avian spectacle you won’t want to miss. Please join us on the rooftop!

With memories of Chimney Swifts fresh in our minds, our fall evening program will follow up with UNC Asheville Professor Andrew Laughlin who will share the results of his local research about Chimney Swift migration and ecology on Tuesday, October 24, at 7pm at the UNCA Reuter Center.

I am very excited to announce progress in our efforts to create another great roost for migrating and breeding Chimney Swifts. An old smokestack in the River Arts District has been capped for years, but members of our chapter have been relentlessly pursuing its return to an uncapped state. We’re working with the City of Asheville to get this done and we hope to have good news about it soon.


There is plenty else going on in the coming weeks-- check out our events calendar on our homepage to see them all! Also, be sure and check our website calendar, Facebook and Instagram pages for updates on all Blue Ridge Audubon happenings! I look forward to seeing everyone out and about this fall during migration!

John Koon

President, Blue Ridge Audubon

Chimney Swift, Alan Lenk

Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter

News and Happenings!

Birds and Bagels at Ridge Junction

Sunday, September 10 at 8 a.m.

Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter is hosting an early morning birding event at Ridge Junction Overlook on Sunday, September 10 at 8 a.m. Ridge Junction Overlook, near Mt. Mitchell State Park, is one of the best spots in the Blue Ridge to experience the fall migration of warblers and other passerines. Hundreds of birds can pass through the gap in the mountains here over the course a morning, and numbers tallied have included over 25 species of warblers!

We'll supply the coffee and bagels. Bring your binoculars, a chair, and some warm clothes. Restrooms at Mt. Mitchell State Park, 2.5 miles. Rain date is Sunday, September 17. Please register if you can on our Facebook page and to get any updates.

Ridge Junction at sunrise, M. Mooney

Swift Night Out

Thursday, September 28 at 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 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 28th on the top floor of the Civic Center Parking Deck. For updates in case of inclement weather, please check our website and Facebook page.  


For more information about Chimney Swifts, check out this Audubon North Carolina fact sheet.

Swift photo by Olivia Vianni 

We Are Still Looking for a Treasurer!

Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter is asking someone with basic bookkeeping skills to step up and take over the role of treasurer. Linda Walker has been our dedicated treasurer for over 5 years and her term is ending. If you're able to use Excel, balance a checkbook, create a budget sheet, and have attention to detail, we would value your help. As treasurer, you would serve on the BRAC board with a group of wonderful people. Linda will train you on everything you need to know. So, if you’re good with numbers, this will be an easy fit. Please email No birding experience necessary, just a desire to be part of a great community of folks whose mission is to protect birds and the places they depend on. 

New Books for Birders

Christian Cooper has provided us a page-turner of a book, Better Living Through Birding (Random House, 2023). He tells the story of his experiences in birding and in life leading up to the now-infamous racially-based incident with a white female dog-owner in New York City’s Central Park in May 2020.


His book shows how six decades of life spent looking at birds prepared him, in unique ways, to be a gay Black man in America today. It takes us inside a perspective of bird appreciation probably known to most birders, while at the very same time opening us up to other important and telling experiences that few of us have ever lived.


The book is serious, but there is also irony, humor, and joy. On the serious side, and with luck, readers will learn much about Black-and-gay birders among us. Yes, buy this book, and read it all, including the parts that you think don’t relate to your own experiences or parts that might even make you somewhat uncomfortable.

Review excepted from the Birding Community E-bulletin:

Birds of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina features over 100 bird photos taken in Western NC by Mark Swanson. The book provides an overview of the variety of birds found in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a collection of photographic portraits and behavioral observations of selected individuals. The new preface, "Seeing Animals as Individuals,” explores the concept of speciesism and the ways humans regard and treat other animals. The book advocates for respecting and protecting birds, especially now as they face the threat of global climate change.

Blue Ridge Audubon 2023 UNCAsheville Scholarship Awardee

Gillian Gavenus is a senior at UNCA majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Ecology and Environmental Biology. She is minoring in Human Rights as she is passionate about human rights, environmental justice, and sustainability. Gillian was recommended for the Blue Ridge Audubon Scholarship by Professor Andrew Laughlin.

Gillian was raised in western NC and loves hiking, camping, rock climbing, pottery, and crafting. This year, she will be working as a Residential Assistant and Lead University Ambassador on campus. Her accomplishments are numerous. Gillian had an internship with the educational program at the North Carolina Arboretum and the Asheville Museum of Science. In 2022, Gillian worked with Dr. David Gillette at UNCA on an undergraduate research project assessing climate change effects on fish diversity and distribution in the Swannanoa River Watershed. Gillian is also part of the inaugural class of Selby and Richard McRae Scholars at UNCA, with scholars chosen through a rigorous selection process. Gillian had the high-impact experience of studying abroad for over 5 months at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. Gillian will graduate in May 2024 and plans to pursue work in the Environmental Science field and go to graduate school.

Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley

Well, in the August Beaver Bits I told you to keep a look out for unusual bird species. While we did not have these species at Beaver Lake, both Little Blue Heron and Limpkin were seen in Buncombe County in August. There were recent sightings of Green and Great Blue Herons as well as Great Egret at Beaver Lake but rarer species eluded Sanctuary birders.

September is the third most “specie-diverse” month of the year on site (after April and May). Over the years there have been 154 species seen at Beaver Lake in the month of September. This includes 31 species of warblers, six vireo species, five Empidonax species, five sandpiper species and three tern species. This is the best time of the year to visit the sanctuary and spot a wide variety of avian life. It is not unheard of to observe 50 species in one visit this month – give it a try!

* * *

Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Wilson's Warbler and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.


Chestnut-sided Warbler, September 2015, Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

Philadelphia Vireo, September 2014, 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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