The Raven's Nest
September 2019
Upcoming Events
All EMAS Meetings/Walks are Free and Open to All!
30th Anniversary of the
Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary
It’s time to celebrate! Please join us for the 30th Anniversary of the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary on Sunday, September 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. In honor of this beloved community treasure, the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society has planned an afternoon of fun for everyone at the Bird Sanctuary. For kids, there will be games to play and binoculars to borrow. They’ll get help spotting birds and at our kid’s table can play All About Feathers, Habitat Bingo and do a Scavenger Hunt. Naturalists will be stationed along the boardwalk identifying birds, plants, dragonflies, butterflies, and wetland insects. For adults we’ll have a Bird Friendly Gardens Table, shade grown coffee and more. Wildlife rehabilitator Carlton Burke will display live raptors for up-close looks. We’ll also be raffling off handmade bird boxes. They’ll be opportunities to meet with friends and Elisha Mitchell Audubon board members. At 1:30, local dignitaries will say a few words. Ice cream from The Hop will keep everyone cool. Please plan to join us anytime during this free event. Parking is limited so take public transportation or park nearby and walk. 
The Mystery of Chimney Swifts
EMAS September Program
7 pm Tuesday, September 17, Reuter Center, UNCA
As one of the great urban bird spectacles, Chimney Swifts entering their fall roosts capture our imagination in unique ways. Seeing the swifts swirling in the sky on fall nights is one of nature’s most amazing sights. Scientists have been studying the biology of Chimney Swifts and have learned some fascinating details about their lives. Curtis Smalling, Director of Conservation for Audubon North Carolina, will share their insights about Chimney Swifts. His presentation will cover the biology of swifts and answer some questions that people have long had about swifts. Curtis will also relate what’s being done across the country for a bird that has come to depend on us for its survival. He’ll share how ordinary citizens like us can help the Chimney Swift. 
Curtis Smalling is Director of Conservation for Audubon North Carolina where his work includes overseeing the Working Lands, Coastal Sanctuaries, and Bird Friendly Communities programs. Curtis is also an integral member of bird conservation working groups which include the International Wood Thrush Conservation Alliance, the International Golden-winged Warbler working group and the Cerulean Warbler Technical working group. He is a contributing author and editor of several books and an avid, longtime birder

All EMAS programs are free and open to the public.

Swift photo by Olivia Vanni
Birdathon Thanks!
Our sincere thank you’s to everyone who donated to  Elisha Mitchell Audubon's 2019 Birdathon . We had our biggest fundraising year ever and raised $10,260! Our success is due solely to you, our generous donors. Thank you so much for your incredible support of the Birdathon.

With the Birdathon donations, we’ve awarded a $1,000 scholarship to a UNCA Environmental Studies. The remaining funds will go to the  American Bird Conservancy  for a BirdScape project in Columbia, S.A. The BirdScape initiative is to define large, priority landscapes throughout the Americas that support populations of migratory birds of highest conservation concern. This greatly benefits our locally nesting migrants like Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers, Wood Thrush, and other neotropical migrants. The American Bird Conservancy has matched our donations, so your dollars have twice the impact for birds.

Since the 2010 Birdathon, our chapter has raised over $60,000 for bird conservation. We are most grateful for the support of our members. If you haven't yet sent in your tax-deductible contribution yet, you can donate at our website or print this donation form . It's never too late for you to help birds! 

Thank you all very much for your generous and important support.
Golden-winged Warbler by Alan Lenk
On the Wing
by Noah Poulos
Spring migration entices us with a plethora of showy songbirds. Brilliant tanagers, melodic wood thrushes, and diverse warblers fill the skies and forests. However, this time of year, our cities, parks, and neighborhoods are enlivened with the high-pitched chatter of Chimney Swifts overhead. Small birds with dark gray-brown plumage, Chimney Swifts flock together to fill urban skies from spring to autumn. Though quite drab in appearance, 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 insects and airborne spiders. Just one Chimney Swift can consume up to 1,000 insects per day. In addition to filling our skies with their interesting flight and familiar chatter, these aerial insectivores keep mosquito populations down and even eat garden pests! 
Like other swifts, Chimney Swifts cannot perch on limbs, fences, and wires, but instead must cling vertically to surfaces. Appropriately named, Chimney Swifts 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 these environments were replaced by farms, towns, and neighborhoods, the swifts adapted.

However, despite their abundance in urban environments, Chimney Swifts have seen a 72% decline 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 Asheville’s first swift tower at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Learn more here about what actions you can take to help Chimney Swifts!

Our annual Swift Night Out , a Chimney Swift viewing event, will be at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, September 26. Free and open to the public. Meet on the seventh floor of the Civic Center Parking Deck. Check the  EMAS website  and our Facebook page  for any updates.  


Photos by Alan Lenk (top) and Greg Lasley
Bird Notes
By Rick Pyeritz
The birds whose lives are the most remote from human knowledge are those that spend them far from land in the wastes of the ocean.
from The Storm Petrel
by Louis J. Halle
I read somewhere many years ago that we may understand more about the moon than we do about the earth’s oceans. It is with much effort and expense that we venture into the habitat of the pelagic birds. When we do, we pray for calm seas, a fast boat and a knowledgeable captain all in the hope of catching more than a glimpse of a dark spot on the horizon in between large swells. As remote as pelagic birds are from land, they are not far enough away from the destructive actions of humans. The largest bird to call the ocean home is the Wandering Albatross. To read about this species, please follow this link.      
New Chimney Swift Tower
Elisha Mitchell Audubon, with help from a generous donation from Jane and Ed Isbey, erected a Chimney Swift tower at Isaac Dickson Elementary School. Dan Friday, owner of Noble Carpentry, constructed the tower and supervised its raising. Thanks to the EMAS members and Isaac Dickson parents who helped with the challenging job of erecting the tower last month: Susie Bell, Sid Border, Marshall Fields, Art Hulse, Doug Lane, Terry Lee, Matt Menne, Kitti Reynolds, Tom Speakes, Monica Schwalbach, and Tom Tribble. Two staff members from the Asheville City Schools Facilities Management were a big help. Our thanks to Isaac Dickson Principal Brad Johnson for his enthusiastic cooperation. An educational sign will be installed soon.
Beaver Bits
Text and photos by Jay Wherley

September birding highlights feature sightings of migrating raptors soaring across the sky. Over the years, 13 species of raptors have been observed at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. By a large proportion, the most common species is Red-shouldered Hawk with over 1,000 observations as tallied on eBird. 
Following in decreasing order of observation counts are: Osprey (203), Red-tailed Hawk (187), Cooper’s Hawk (179), Eastern Screech-Owl (140), Broad-winged Hawk (87), Sharp-shinned Hawk (58), Bald Eagle (37), Peregrine Falcon (10), Merlin (10), American Kestrel (4) and Northern Harrier (4). The list ends at Barn Owl, with only one observation, on an August evening in 2004.
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Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Osprey and Bald Eagle.

Many thanks to everyone for their hard labor at our August 17 BLBS Workday! Nancy Casey, Nancy Herbert, Alicia & Art Hulse, Ed Isbey, Phil Croll, Diane Lombardi, Diane Matheson, Carl Nyberg, Randy Richardson, Tom Tribble, Cathy Walsh and Steve Yurkovich. 

Join us at the next workday on Saturday, September 14 at 9 am.
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