The Raven's Nest
June 2019
Upcoming Events
All EMAS Meetings/Walks are Free and Open to All!
Our Voice for Birds!
Elisha Mitchell Audubon and UNCA Audubon chapters have been busy this spring speaking up on behalf of birds, the habitats they need, and the issues that impact them. Recently, we’ve focused on strengthening relationships with our state legislators and talking with them about why birds are so important to us. 

Bird Walk with
NC State Rep. Susan Fisher
On April 22, our chapters were thrilled to welcome Rep. Susan Fisher , and her husband John, to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Together, we celebrated Earth Day with a bird walk, and heard a northern waterthrush, spotted a broad-winged hawk, and shared our favorite bird stories. ( Photo by: Tom Bush).

EMAS and UNCA meet with state legislators in Raleigh
Earlier this spring, Asheville area bird advocates, including 7 from Elisha Mitchell and 5 from UNCA Audubon, flocked to the Raleigh state house for Audubon North Carolina’s third annual Lobby Day . Joining with a total of 60 Audubon advocates state-wide, we met with 70 legislators from both parties to speak up on behalf of birds. We reminded our state leaders of a simple truth: by s afeguarding birds, we create a better future for all wildlife -- and people too! The Asheville-area contingent met with Senators John Ager and Terry Van Duyn, and Representatives Susan Fisher, Joe Sam Queen, and Chuck McGrady. We talked about the importance of increasing state conservation funding, expanding bird-friendly clean energy, and improving state land management for wildlife by controlling invasive plants.
This year’s Lobby Day was the state’s largest ever, and by all accounts, a resounding success. It was the first time Audubon campus chapters have participated -- we are so proud of the UNCA Audubon chapter participants! Way to go, western North Carolina -- we really let our voices be heard!  Read more about Audubon North Carolina Lobby Day here and check out more great photos  here . ( Photos by : Luke Franke/Audubon).

Success! Update on State Bill 367  
I n our EMAS April newsletter , we asked you to reach out to state legislators to oppose Senate Bill 367 “Clarify Property Owners’ Rights” because it would have restricted and undermined local tree ordinances. We’re happy to report good news! Due to pressure from various municipalities, Audubon North Carolina, members of the Asheville Tree Protection Task Force and the North Carolina League of Municipalities, this bill was withdrawn by its sponsor, Sen. Tom McInnis. Thank you to all EMAS members and supporters who reached out to their state senators to oppose this bill – your voices were heard!
Join EMAS Advocacy Efforts
Interested in raising your voice in support of birds and the habitats they need? Please join EMAS as we do our part in protecting our precious birds! Contact me at for more information.
EMAS June Program:
Jaguars and Birds of the Pantanal
By: Cherie Pittillo
Tuesday, June 18th: 7:00 PM
Reuter Center, UNC Asheville Campus
Covering over 70,000 square miles, South America’s Pantanal is the world’s largest tropical wetland. A biodiversity hotspot, it boasts the highest concentration of wildlife on the continent. From Macaws and Spoonbills to Anteaters and Anacondas, the Pantanal is home to an incredible array of fascinating species. The EMAS June program will focus on the birds of the Pantanal and on one of the most charismatic species found there, the Jaguar. Illustrated by incredible photographs, this presentation will touch on new research and common behaviors of jaguars. Pantanal bird species and their behaviors will also be featured. Join us for this virtual wildlife trip to one of the world’s most incredible places
Whether flying in a microlight over Africa, hanging out of a helicopter to photograph nature in the US, or dodging a charging rhinoceros, Cherie Pittillo perhaps owes her destiny to being the first baby born at the hospital in Bat Cave, NC. An author and award-winning photographer, Cherie’s photographic publications vary from BBC books, Incredible Journeys , to the African and US editions of Reader’s Digest . Her monthly column, “Backyard Birding in Merida, Yucatan and Beyond”, publishes in three online Mexican newspapers of The Yucatan Times . Cherie earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in biology with an emphasis on Zoology. She’s an avid traveling birder and a former EMAS board member.

All EMAS programs are free and open to the public.

Hyacinth macaw by C. Pittillo
Birdathon 2019 Results!
The three EMAS Birdathon teams have battled, or rather, birded it out, and we have a winning team! The teams all gave it their best, birding for one 24-hour (or less) period of trying to see or hear as many bird species as possible. Having a plan, stamina, and in-depth knowledge of birds and bird songs is essential. And some rare birds dropping in on the chosen day helps too, like the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks who stopped by the Biltmore Estate. It's all great fun and for the worthy conservation cause of helping Golden-winged Warblers, Wood Thrush, and other neotropical migratory birds thrive on their wintering grounds.  
The teams have done their part and now they ask for your help. The Birdathon, and the efforts of the teams, are meaningless without your generous donation. We are most grateful and so appreciate your support in making the Birdathon a success. Please  follow this link  to the Birdathon flyer, write a check to EMAS and send to EMAS P.O. Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814. You can also donate via PayPal at the  EMAS website , but please note online that it's for the Birdathon.

And now, for the fourth year in a row, the winning team is the Peregrines with a record-breaking 136 species! The Beaver Lake Bluebirds came in second with 118 species, and the Not-So-Common Loons were close behind with 104 species. Read the exciting tale of their big days at  this link .  Our congratulations to the Peregrine's team of great birders!

Black-bellied Whistling Duck photo by S. Thompson
Bird Notes
By Rick Pyeritz
The ornithologist is almost always a good fellow:
he can hardly be otherwise...
the elusive grace and charm of the bird is not for the morose man. 
Of course, the ornithologist is a good fellow: he cannot help himself.”
Witmer Stone, c. 1866 to 1939
Witmer Stone, considered to be one of last great naturalists, was an expert ornithologist, botanist, and mammologist. He served as president of the American Ornithologist’s Union, editor of The Auk, and director of the Academy of Natural Sciences. This guy knew what he was talking about especially with his quote above . “The elusive grace and charm of the bird” usually puts a birder in a positive frame of mind and they like to share their experience with others. I believe it was this feeling which brought together a group friends in 1984 to form the Great Smoky Mountain Birding Expedition. Now in its 35 th year, some of the faces have changed but a core group comes together year after year to go birding. We have developed a particular affection for the Bobolink. If you would like to find out why, follow the link.
It's Your Backyard Event
By Cathy Walsh
In April, EMAS was invited to participate in an event to invite people who live in a traditionally African American neighborhood in Asheville to explore the outdoors. Held at the Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center, the It’s Your Backyard event was sponsored by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and the Recreation Center. Frank and Audrey Peterman, authors of Legacy of the Land and ambassadors for the National Parks, and Daniel White, the Appalachian Trail thru hiker known as the “Blackalachian”, spoke at the event, and a panel discussion was held. The speakers were inspiring, and the talks were well-attended. Later that afternoon, several organizations including EMAS, set up tables in the field. With tabling help from the UNCA Audubon chapter, we had birdhouse kits available for children to construct, thanks to Bob Rymer, EMAS member. Materials for creating bird nesting bags were available, as well as information on native plants, local birds and EMAS. It was a rewarding outreach event for all involved.
Smile and Shop for EMAS
Do you shop at Amazon? Did you know can support EMAS simply by making your Amazon purchases through AmazonSmile?!? AmazonSmile is operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as But when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. Be aware that if you shop through the Amazon app on your table or mobile phone, your charitable organization of choice does not receive a donation from your purchases. Only when you shop through the website does the organization you support receive donations from Amazon. For directions on how to sign up, please click here . Thanks for your support!
Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley
Fledgling birds can sometimes be seen at Beaver Lake in the month of June. The young bird may look almost exactly like the adult, though at other times they appear quite different. In the photos, the young American Crow (below) has a lighter colored gape area but is otherwise obviously a crow. 
The young Eastern Towhee (above) shows almost none of the distinctive adult color pattern but does show the outer white tail feathers we’d expect from a towhee.
Migrating species breeding in the sanctuary include Orchard Oriole, Warbling Vireo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hooded Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo.
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Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include
Magnolia Warbler and Great Crested Flycatcher.
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