The Raven's Nest
April 2020
Upcoming Events
EMAS Meetings & Walks are Free and Open to All!
President's Message

In these difficult times, connecting with the natural world feels more important than ever. For me, watching and hearing birds this spring has brought me solace and a sense of peace. Click to read Audubon's "The Joy of Birds" website to help connect with birds and lift your spirits.

Please join us for our next Elisha Mitchell Audubon program meeting this Tuesday, April 21st at 7pm . Simply go to the EMAS Facebook page and watch us live! No Facebook account required. See details below and we'll see you then.

We hope you enjoyed March's online program on the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Plan Revision . Our voice is critical to shaping the forest plan. Find out more on what the revisions mean for birds, plus how to write and submit comments. Sign up here to attend Audubon North Carolina's next webinar on May 20 at 7pm.

Do you love Chimney Swifts as much as we do? EMAS is looking for volunteers to monitor our towers for nesting activity in the evening around sunset. Our swift towers are at the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, Isaac Dickson Elementary School and Black Mountain. Please email EMAS Board member Monica Schwalbach ( ) to find out more and sign up!

Unfortunately, EMAS will not be holding our annual Birdathon fundraiser next month. Due to the restrictions on safe distancing, we can't have our teams piling into one car and spending the day together birding, as much as we would like to.
Lastly, put on your binoculars, keep a safe distance, and join us (in spirit) in celebrating World Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 9th.

Best wishes and stay well,
-Nancy Casey
April Program Meeting
Join EMAS Online for a Double Feature!

Ecological Farming + Gardening for Birds
Tuesday, April 21 at 7 p.m.
(Watch from the comfort of your own home!)
Facebook account not necessary
Benefits of Ecological Farming
Noah Poulos

For almost a century, industrial agriculture has dominated the landscape of food production and with it caused habitat loss, pollution, and massive fossil fuel emissions, all of which impact birds and other wildlife. However, a grassroots movement is happening at tremendous scale across the globe: ecological farming. Farms that value ecosystem just as much as the bottom line are creating a paradigm shift in what it means to feed the world. Join this talk to learn about farming practices that benefit native wildlife, how daily consumer decisions can help shape the landscape of conservation, and how local farms that you can support are engaged in ecological farming.

Noah Poulos, an Elisha Mitchell Audubon board member, holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from UNCAsheville. Noah is a farmer, biologist, ISA certified arborist, and ecological consultant. An avid backpacker and birder, he spends most of his free time growing food with his wife on their homestead in Swannanoa.
Bird-Friendly Gardening
Tom Tribble

For over 100 years, Audubon has focused on making the world a better place for birds -- Protect Birds and You Protect the Earth. Today birds face serious threats from habitat loss and climate change. With increased development and population growth, there are fewer undeveloped areas for our migratory and resident birds to find food, shelter and a place to raise their babies. The single, easiest way that individuals can help birds is to make their own yard more bird-friendly by planting native plants. Learn about the native plants and actions you can take to make your yard a haven for birds. 
Tom Tribble has been a National Audubon Society member and avid birder for over 45 years. Previously President of the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society for six years, Tom serves now as Immediate Past President and chairs the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary Committee. Tom retired in 2013 after 30 years at the NC Center for Geographic Information & Analysis, the State's Geographic Information System. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University and a Master's degree from Duke University.

All EMAS programs are free and open to the public.

Sandy Mush Gamelands
A Great Place to Bird!
Sandy Mush Game Lands

Looking for somewhere to bird that’s still open and uncrowded? Try the Sandy Mush Game Lands , located in north Buncombe and Madison Counties, This 2,600-acre tract of low-elevation mountain habitat was acquired by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission in 2004 for conservation. 

Avid birder Doug Johnston visited the game lands recently and shared his observations on the EMAS Listserv. Sign up here to join . Doug was out on the Cedar Hill Ridge trail in late March and tallied 38 species. Jay Wherley saw American Woodcock displaying at sunset at the end of February and Aaron Steed had 5 warbler species on April 7. Take a look at more recent sightings at Sandy Mush Game Lands on this eBird link. There are American Kestrel nest boxes scattered around the Game Lands and Alan Lenk has taken some great pictures. Click on this link to see Alan's Kestrels photos.

Most importantly, please note that Sandy Mush is a  three-day hunting game land , with hunting allowed only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays . This leaves Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday free for birding visits . Turkey hunting is open now through May 9, so be safe and bird on non-hunting days.

For a description of the birding access areas, please follow this link . Thanks to Doug Johnston for the information about birding Sandy Mush.  

American Kestrel at Sandy Mush by Alan Lenk
Bird Notes
by Rick Pyeritz
There, through the clear and rarefied atmosphere, the Raven spreads his glossy wings and tail, and, as he onward sails, rises higher and higher each bold sweep that he makes, as if conscious that the nearer he approaches the sun, the more splendent will become the tints of his plumage.
                                                                  -John James Audubon 
The Raven

One of John James Audubon’s longest written descriptions accompanying the bird paintings in his monumental Birds of America is devoted to the Raven. Audubon knew that the breeding range of the Raven extended to the mountains of South Carolina, but he never saw the bird in the Southern Appalachians. When I find myself in the high elevations of our southern mountains, I enjoy listening for the long trill of the Winter Wren and the ethereal song of the Veery. But the song I find most enjoyable is the guttural croak of the Raven. 

Follow this link to read some of Audubon's observations of the Raven.
Beaver Bits
Text and photos by Jay Wherley
In this third and final look back at the origins of Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, we’ll take note of early projects achieved after the property purchase in 1988. Fundraising continued after obtaining the land, including a new member drive at the 1989 Belle Chere festival in Asheville.
Work began on the Sanctuary in early 1992 for improvements that included landscaping, parking, fencing and an entrance shelter. These items required around $40,000 in fund raising. After these initial upgrades, and with grants from the Janivre Foundation and Community Foundation of Western North Carolina totaling $20,000, EMAS looked to raise $30,000 more for further sanctuary projects. The fundraising efforts included sales of prints by Asheville artist Marcus Thomas.
 The first 200 feet of boardwalk were under construction in the summer of 1996 and were dedicated on October 3rd, 1996. Today the complete boardwalk runs approximately 1500 feet, with multiple overlooks.
Other notable upgrades over the years include:

  • Completion of the boardwalk, forming a wheelchair accessible loop    
  • The construction of the Dr. Ed Hauser Ecofilter Wetland   
  • The building of the Lake and Ecofilter Wetland overlooks with benches  
  • The plantings of the Native Plant Demonstration garden and the meadow
  • Invasive plant removal program started
  • Chimney Swift tower and Purple Martin housing built
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include:
Osprey and returning Tree Swallows
Dr. Ed Hauser Ecofilter Wetland sign/overlook
Lake overlooks in Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary
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.

Marianne Mooney

 Our mission 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/Instagram