June 2024

Upcoming Events

Birding Events

Join Blue Ridge Audubon for birding on these Saturdays.

Free and open to all.

Many thanks to the guides at Ventures Birding

for leading our outings.

June 15, 8 a.m.

Owen Park

July 6, 8 a.m.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

July 13, 8 a.m.

Jackson Park

July 20, 8 a.m.

Owen Park

August 3, 8 a.m.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary


Blue Ridge Audubon is taking the summer off from programs.

See you in September!

Plants for Birds Outings

Saturday, June 15, 1 p.m.

Saturday, July 27, 1 p.m.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

September Program

The Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles with J J Apodaca

Tuesday, Sept 17, 7 p.m.

Reuter Center, UNCA

Swift Night Out

Thursday Sept 26, 7:00 p.m.

Civic Center Parking Garage

Board of Directors Meeting

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

To attend email:

Visit our website:
President's Message

Dear Nancy,

Whew! What a busy spring. I hope everyone was able to make it out to some of our spring events in the last few months. We had a wonderful Beaver Lake Celebration that featured the unveiling of the Beaver Lake Remembrance Tree. We had a series of great evening programs about a variety of topics from Birding in Antarctica to the North Carolina Bird Atlas to Conserving Habitat for the Northern Saw-Whet Owl in North Carolina. This last topic was part of our 2024 Birdathon fundraiser which is supporting the efforts of Wild Bird Research Group to study and help protect these cute little owls that are holding on in the upper reaches of our Canadian Zone spruce-fir forests in Western North Carolina. (It’s not too late to Contribute!)


This last program also served as our Annual Membership meeting, at which we elected an impressive slate of new Officers and Board Members. I am pleased to welcome Dora Brande, LaShanda Brown, Jennie Burke, Kevin Burke, Paula Caycedo, Anna Hardy, Art Hulse, and Joe Simon to the Board of Directors. We are all fortunate to have such a talented and eager group of volunteers stepping up to help run this organization!


Alas, there was only room for this wonderful set of fresh leaders because we have several others who are moving on after giving their time and talents to Blue Ridge Audubon over the past several years. Board members Casey Girard and Clayton Gibb are stepping off the board—they have both made wonderful contributions to our efforts in bringing educational field trips to Beaver Lake and improving our Membership and volunteer outreach. Luckily both Clayton and Casey intend to keep volunteering with us and will not be strangers!

We also have two officers who are leaving us. Linda Walker is stepping down as our Treasurer due to term limits, and after *seven* years as our bedrock of fiscal management and propriety, she truly deserves a break! The Treasurer job is oft-overlooked but is critically important to any organization, and especially to a 501(c)(3) organization like ours. Throughout, Linda has flawlessly managed the flows of contributions, sent myriad acknowledgements, juggled our bills and been fastidious in her fiscal rectitude. Having Linda as our treasurer has brought the entire board confidence and peace-of-mind that we were in good hands. Many Thanks Linda!


Our other departing officer is our irreplaceable Vice-President Marianne Mooney, who has been in this position since 2019. Before that she was Secretary for four years, and has been a Board member since 2013! As Vice-President she has been exactly the steadying force for the organization that everyone needed as she assisted two new presidents in transition and brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization over the years. Her savoir-faire has saved me from countless faux pas, and she has been a tremendous source of counsel and advice to everyone. But it’s only as she has started the transition that we have realized just how many OTHER jobs she has been doing so capably for Blue Ridge Audubon. As the Newsletter Editor, Publications Chair, and Fundraising Chair, as well as doing countless other jobs, she has had a major impact on practically every part of Blue Ridge Audubon’s mission. I am fortunate that she, too, intends to remain active as a volunteer for us, as I fear that our new Vice-President Danielle Lenaway and I will both be calling her regularly for months trying to figure out how to reorder flyers, reserve meeting rooms or coordinate publicity for us. Enjoy your new-found free time, Marianne—you certainly deserve it.


Our departing members have all carried tremendous loads for our organization, as have many others before them. I can only hope that we can capably fill their shoes as we go forward. Blue Ridge Audubon only exists because of selfless volunteer efforts like Casey, Clayton, Linda and Marianne have given. Thanks to each of you for making this organization great!

John Koon

President, Blue Ridge Audubon

l to r: Dora Brande, new treasurer, Linda Walker, former treasurer and Douglas Rao, board member at the Beaver lake Bird Sanctuary Celebration

Blue Ridge Audubon News

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary Celebration

We had a memorable 2nd annual Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary Celebration on the afternoon of May 19th. Just as we were all organized and ready to greet people, the skies opened up. Well, we tried our best to stay dry and carried on all the same. Luckily, licensed bird rehabilitator Carlton Burke saved the moment. He was in the dry gazebo with a rapt audience as he introduced them to his Barred and Barn Owls, a Turkey Vulture and a few other raptors that he cares for. People were thrilled to see these birds up close and to learn about them from Carlton.

The sun soon came out and a surprising number of folks came to the Sanctuary. We had stations set up where they learned about local birds, Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter, and everything nature. All the kids enjoyed crafts and seeing Carlton's birds. Many thanks to all the volunteers who made the afternoon so fun for everyone. We'll hope for clearer skies next May.

Remembrance Tree

Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter has a beautiful new addition to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, a Remembrance Tree. Local metal artisan Tina Councell of Iron Maiden Studios created a large metal sculpture of a tree adorned with birds. Situated in a quiet gazebo near the northeast corner of the Sanctuary, it’s a lovely spot to sit and remember someone. We commissioned this work because of the many requests we receive from folks wanting to plant a tree or erect a bench at the Sanctuary in memory of someone. Board member Danielle Lenaway deserves credit for the idea of the tree. We wanted to create a lovely opportunity for people to remember a loved one or honor someone meaningful in their lives. For those who love nature and birds, the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is the perfect setting for this kind of special remembrance. The name of a loved one or honoree can be engraved on a feather-shaped nameplate and affixed to the tree. Gifts will support the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and ensure that it always remains a special place for people and birds.

Donation giving levels vary, please check our website for details. 

Blue Ridge Audubon's 2024 Birdathon Results!

Our Blue Ridge Audubon Birdathon teams have completed their marathon day of birding and we have a winning team! All the teams gave it their best, spending one day trying to see or hear as many bird species as possible. We are grateful to the teams and appreciate their participation and their fundraising efforts. Special thanks go out to the Beaver Lake Bluebirds (Nancy Casey, Clayton Gibb, Marianne Mooney and Tom Tribble), the Chimney Swifties (Anne Cifelli and Renee Dunaway), and the Not-So-Common Loons (John Koon, Kirstin Shrode, and Jay Wherley).


The teams have done their part and now it’s up to you. We are most grateful and so appreciate your support in making the Birdathon a success. This year we are funding the electronic tracking of local populations of Northern Saw-whet Owls to gain knowledge of their movements and to help with their conservation. Please follow this link to the Blue Ridge Audubon Birdathon page where you can learn more about this effort. You can make a donation either online or you can download a Birdathon form and send a check to Blue Ridge Audubon, P.O. Box 18711, Asheville, NC 28814. Please note online or on your check that it's for the Birdathon. Thank you so much!


And now, for the third year in a row, the winning team is the Not-So-Common Loons with 128 species! Our congratulations to team Loons, pictured above. The Bluebirds came in second with 118 species and the Swifties tallied 98 birds. We thank all the participants and hope they had a great birding time. Read the big day reports of the Loons and the Swifties. And hopefully you’ll be inspired by them to get a team together and join us in next year’s Birdathon! 

The NC Bird Atlas

Needs You!

The North Carolina Bird Atlas needs our help! As this five-year effort enters its fourth summer of trying to map and confirm which birds are nesting in each part of the state, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has asked Blue Ridge Audubon to help the project by birding some of the Priority blocks near Asheville and getting confirmations that bird species are nesting and successfully raising young birds in these blocks. Many blocks have been birded but need help Completing The BlockHere are some of the local Priority Blocks that need our help with Completion:

  • Craggy Pinnacle SE near Swannanoa includes some trails from Shope Creek including the Rock Knob trail, as well as neighborhoods near Bee Tree Reservior.
  • Sandy Mush SE includes a lot of rolling farm land west of Leicester
  • Montreat SE includes most of the town of Montreat and its trail system
  • Canton SE includes the new Chestnut Mountain Mountain Bike and Hiking Park near Canton
  • Luftee Knob SE in the Smokies includes parts of Balsam Mountain Road and some trails out of Cataloochee Valley


If you can help out with some of these Priority Blocks, you contribute to community science as you enjoy the birds! You can read about the basics of Atlasing on the North Carolina Bird Atlas website, For a complete list of NC Atlas Blocks, see the map here, and please help out where you can!

Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley

In June, our bird brethren are busy breeding at the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Some, such as Eastern Screech-Owl and Pileated Woodpeckers, have already fledged their young. Other precocial species, such as Wild Turkey, are watching over their meandering young minute by minute.

Data from the North Carolina Bird Atlas provides evidence of 34 confirmed breeding species in the sanctuary. An additional 23 species are currently marked as “probable” breeding birds in the sanctuary. Evidence to confirm breeding includes observing a nest with young, an adult feeding young, an occupied nest, or a bird building a nest.

The eight acres of mixed habitat in the sanctuary provides the resources used by all these species to successfully breed. We still hope to observe successful nesting use of our Chimney Swift Tower and Purple Martin Houses by those respective species.

* * *

Recent notable sightings at Beaver Lake include Blackpoll Warbler and Gray-cheeked Thrush.


Blackpoll Warbler, BLBS May 2024

Pileated Woodpecker father feeding young, BLBS, May 2024

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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