The Raven's Nest
April 2019
Upcoming Events
All EMAS Meetings/Walks are Free and Open to All!
It's EMAS Birdathon Time!
In early May, teams of Elisha Mitchell Audubon birders compete in a friendly Birdathon, searching for and identifying as many species of birds as they can in one 24-hour period. The goal is not only to spot the most birds but, more importantly, to raise money for bird conservation. Since 2010, with your support, our EMAS Birdathons have raised over $50,000 for bird conservation! 

The Birdathon is Elisha Mitchell Audubon's only yearly fund-raiser. Our target goal is to raise $7,000, and our fundraising focus is bird conservation and education. This year we will award a $1,000 scholarship to a UNCAsheville Environmental Science student. The remaining donations will support an American Bird Conservancy program called BirdScape. The goal of this ABC initiative is to define large, priority landscapes throughout the Americas that support populations of migratory birds of highest conservation concern. Our donations will support the Cauca Valley BirdScape, which is centered in the Central Andes of Columbia S.A. This area of Columbia is extremely important for 74 neotropical migratory bird species, including Golden-winged, Cerulean, Canada, Blackpoll, Tennessee, and Blackburnian Warblers. You can read more about this initiative on the second page of our Birdathon flyer. 
If you'd like to contribute to the Birdathon, please click here for a donation form. We are most grateful for the generosity of our members in helping us to raise money for bird conservation. Thank you all very much for your support. We look forward to thanking our donors in person at our special EMAS Birdathon May 21st program featuring Holly Robertson from the American Bird Conservancy.

Photo of Golden-winged Warbler by Alan Lenk
EMAS March Program:
Recent Changes in Bird Distribution and Diversity in the Smokies
By: Dr. Andrew Laughlin
Tuesday, April 16th: 7:00 PM
Reuter Center, UNC Asheville Campus
1 University Heights, Asheville, NC 28804
Over the last several decades, the Southern Appalachian Mountains have undergone many environmental changes caused by acid deposition, invasive insects, warmer average temperatures, and altered rainfall patterns. Understanding how birds have reacted to these changes in terms of distribution and diversity is an important step in predicting how future changes may alter bird communities. UNCA professor Dr. Andrew Laughlin and his team are re-surveying portions of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park first surveyed 20 years ago by researchers from NC State. Their current research concerns how bird communities have changed in response to Eastern Hemlock decline and whether bird species are moving up (or down) the mountains as a result of climatic changes. Dr. Laughlin will share the preliminary results from this study which point to changes in the diversity and distribution of birds in the Park. 
Dr. Andrew Laughlin is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at UNCAsheville. 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. EMAS has appreciated having Dr. Laughlin as an advisor and a partner monitoring our Brown-headed Nuthatch boxes. 

All EMAS programs are free and open to the public.

Photo of Acadian Flycatcher by Edward Plumer
Bird Notes
by Rick Pyeritz
Imagine what emotions Georg Wilhelm Steller must have been feeling as he watched the distant Alaskan mainland fade into the sea mist. His lifelong dream was to explore the North Pacific region and he was so close. He had negotiated a two and a half year trek across the vast Siberian plain to arrive at the Russian Pacific coast, survived severe storms at sea, and escaped the ravages of scurvy, which ultimately killed half the crew of his ship. Now, with his goal in sight, he had to deal with a captain who was quite ill and who had ordered the ship to return to Russia. In spite of all the difficulties and disappointments, the expedition was a huge success. To find out what was accomplished by Steller, including the discovery of four new bird species, follow the link.

Photo of Steller's Jay by M Mooney
The Birder's Eye: A Tropical Connection
by Simon Thompson
I was spending 10 days in the Andes on a birding tour with a small group of hummingbird enthusiasts, enjoying species with almost improbable names, such as Velvet-purple Coronet, Blacktailed Trainbearer and Empress Brilliant – to name just a few. But what was equally as exciting to many of us was to run into some more familiar names and faces. It was exciting to see large numbers of the northern-breeding Swainson’s Thrush. Almost every fruiting tree on the east slope seemed to have more than its fair share of this spotted thrush. It was certainly abundant in many of the mid-elevation forests we visited, which it shares with wintering Summer and Scarlet Tanagers. 

We only had a short time to be immersed in the beauty and nature of the Ecuadorian Andes and had but a snapshot of the incredible birdlife found in this rugged part of the world before we had to return to our regular lives. We tend to hear nothing but bad news most of the time but seeing and hearing how many people are working hard to protect the forests and birdlife of Ecuador was heartening. As well as protecting the local hummingbirds, tanagers and parrots, “our” birds also benefit even though they are only winter visitors in this part of the world and will soon be flying north to breed in our forests. 


Photo of Purple-bibbed Whitetip by Simon Thompson

Do Kestrels nest on your property? Have you seen them near your home? Southern Appalachian Raptor Research (SARR) is looking for citizens to host a Kestrel nest box. The goal of this partnership is to monitor potential nesting pairs. You may qualify if you have appropriate Kestrel habitat which in Western NC includes open fields and pastures with forest edge. Hosting the boxes is free and all details regarding installation and maintenance will be managed by the folks at SARR. For eligibility information or to request a nest box, please contact Program Director Mark Hopey at


Photo of American Kestrel by Alen Lenk
Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley

April at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is exciting. Why? Warblers, tanagers, vireos – the annual cycle has come around again. Over the years, at least 31 species of warblers have been spotted at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary in the month of April. Both tanagers, and five vireo species also can be seen there in April.
With the lake dredging process continuing, birders will be on the lookout for new shorebirds. Pectoral Sandpipers have already been spotted, either Yellowlegs species might be seen and Dowitchers could show up, and perhaps some unexpected shorebirds as well. Keep your eyes on the exposed flats! 

* * *

Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Pectoral Sandpiper and American Wigeon.


Summer Tanager, Beaver Lake, April 2018
American Redstart, Beaver Lake, April 2018 
Save Local Tree Ordinances!
Advocacy Alert:
Please Ask our State Legislators to
Oppose SB 367: Tree Ordinance Legislation

This Tuesday, April 9 , the NC Senate's State and Local Government Committee is scheduled to hear harmful legislation that will restrict and undermine local tree ordinances.  SB 367 Clarify Property Owners’ Rights  would require that all local ordinances regulating the removal of trees be permitted only with the express authorization of the General Assembly.

Trees provide a great number of community benefits include enhancing property values and aesthetics, inexpensively treating and managing stormwater and air quality, energy savings, and of course, providing bird/wildlife habitat!! Local tree ordinances are important for municipalities to set standards for the management, planning and protection of trees -- and local officials are best positioned to determine how local tree ordinances should be created and applied.

EMAS opposes this bill and urges you to contact your state senator ASAP and let them know that SB 367 undermines local authority for tree protection.

Please call or email your state senator ASAP and let them know of your opposition to  SB 367 Clarify Property Owners’ Rights . Ask that they vote against this legislation in any committee or floor votes. 

District 49 (Buncombe): 
District 48 (Buncombe,   Henderson,  Transylvania): 
District 50 (Haywood and surrounding counties): 
District 47 (Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Yancey): 

To identify your NC state senators and representatives representation, please click here .

Thank you!
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.

Content Editor: 
Marianne Mooney

Technical Editor: 
Nick Dugan

Our mis sion 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 page