The Raven's Nest
March 2020
Upcoming Events
EMAS Meetings & Walks are Free and Open to All!
Events Around Town...
Ay Mariposa 
Film Showing
Reuter Center, UNCA
Thursday, March 26, 6 pm
The Wood Thrush Connection
Film Showing
Asheville Art Museum
Thursday, March 19, 7 pm
Bill McKibben
Our Changing Climate: A Global Movement of Reform
Sherrill Center, Kimmel Arena, UNCAsheville
Thursday, April 2 at 7 pm 
Free and open to all
President's Message

Spring has sprung! Along with welcoming migratory birds back to our area, the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society (EMAS) will be working hard with Audubon North Carolina on two big issues that impact our local feathered friends. I hope we can count on your help. After all, it’s up to us to speak up for the birds we love!

First, the U.S. Forest Service just released a draft plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Our “backyard” national forests are true gems. Plus, they provide critical habitat for western North Carolina’s birds, including rare and threatened species like the Golden-winged Warbler (pictured) and beloved songbirds like the Wood Thrush. 

Audubon North Carolina’s Curtis Smalling has been on several committees working on the forest plan revisions, so be sure to come hear him speak at Elisha Mitchell Audubon’s next program meeting on Tuesday, March 17th (details below). Forest Service staffers will be on-hand to answer your questions as well. 

Curtis and Audubon North Carolina are busy reviewing the details of the plan (it’s +2,000 pages!) and coming up with suggestions on what bird-advocates like us might say when we submit our comments. So stay tuned for guidance. In the meantime, read more about it on Audubon North Carolina’s website here

Second, Audubon North Carolina has launched a new state clean energy campaign. Elisha Mitchell Audubon and UNCA Audubon will be gathering petition signatures and traveling to Raleigh this May to talk to legislators about clean energy and energy storage solutions for our state. 
Climate change is the #1 threat to birds, so it’s vitally important that each of us takes positive action right now.

 So come on off the sidelines and help! We are looking for volunteers. Email us at and we’ll discuss ways you can help. 

By moving North Carolina towards clean, reliable and sustainable energy, we can ensure a brighter future for both people and birds! 

Happy Spring! 
-Nancy Casey
Birdlife and the Nantahala/Pisgah Forest Plan
Tuesday, March 17 at 7 p.m.
Reuter Center, UNC Asheville
The U.S. Forest Service recently released a new forest plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement that are critical to the future of western North Carolina’s forests and the birds that depend on them, including rare and threatened species like the Golden-winged Warbler and beloved songbirds like the Wood Thrush. The Nantahala and Pisgah forests cover more than 1 million acres in western North Carolina and include some of the state’s most important bird habitat. Audubon North Carolina has been working on the plan and, according to Curtis Smalling, “is committed to…making sure it balances the needs of people who use our public lands while promoting healthier forests for birds and communities.”
Join EMAS to hear from Curtis and National Forests in North Carolina (NFNC) employees, Alice Cohen and Sheryl Bryan, who will update us on the plan. They will share their insights into the revision and the draft environmental impact statement, and how the plan balances the future of the national forests with local stakeholder and interest groups. Curtis will also address the various alternatives of the plan and the effects they will have on the birds and the forest. He’ll share Audubon’s priorities, and let us know how we can provide important feedback on the forest plan process.

Alice Cohen is the Collaboration Specialist for the Forest Plan. She has worked with the NFNC since 1999 in various roles including conservation education and public affairs. Sheryl Bryan is the Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist for the Forest Plan and has been with NFNC since 1989. She has served as the Fisheries and Wildlife Program Manager for over 10 years. 
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.

Wood Thrush by Will Stuart
Join EMAS at Two Eco Movies!
The Wood Thrush Connection
Thursday, March 19, 7 pm

The migration of the climate-threatened Wood Thrush created an incredible connection between birders in two disparate places and inspired a filmmaker. In this film, follow one bird’s journey from North Carolina to Belize and be inspired by the conservation heroes working to protect the Wood Thrush. Produced by the  Climate Listening Project , this short film features NC’s Forsyth Audubon and the Belize Audubon Society sharing stories of why they are dedicated to protecting the Wood Thrush everywhere it lives

  • Introduction and Q&A with Dayna Reggero, filmmaker; Kim Brand, Audubon North Carolina's Engagement Director; and Nancy Casey, president, Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society.

Free for museum members or included with general admission. More information can be found here .
Ay Mariposa
Thursday, March 26 at 6 pm
Reuter Center, UNC Asheville

The proposed Mexican-U.S. border wall threatens a very fragile wildlife corridor, particularly in South Texas along the floodplain of the Rio Grande River. Almost 1,500 scientists from the U.S. have signed a call to action outlining how the wall will hurt wildlife and conservation efforts. The film Ay Mariposa tells the true story of two women standing on the front lines in a battle against the border wall where the wall construction is devastating wildlife and human communities. Heather Rayburn of will host a free screening of this powerful movie. Register for a seat in advance here:  Ay Mariposa film.

One lucky audience member will walk away with a special door prize: the birding board game WINGSPAN!
Queen butterflies by Heather Rayburn, Texas 11/2019
Elisha Mitchell Board Nominations
The Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society’s Board of Directors will hold elections for officers and at-large board members at the June board meeting. The Nominating Committee, consisting of board members Noah Poulos, Marianne Mooney and Tom Tribble, is seeking qualified candidates for at-large board member positions. The EMAS board meets 9 times a year and board members are required to sit on a committee and help facilitate the annual plan. If you’re interested in joining the board, please send an enquiry email to .
The Birder’s Eye
by Simon Thompson
Some of us birders do love New World sparrows, but other birders not so much. “They all look the same” is a refrain that I most often hear about sparrows. Well, yes! To be honest, most sparrows are essentially little brown birds, but the complicated feather patterns vary considerably between many of the closely-related species. The variety in their songs, and in their “brown” colorations can make them a pleasurable bird to study. Their habitat preferences differ, with some species preferring wet long-grass ditches, and others thick underbrush. Some are only found in open park-like habitat, while others are never seen out of dense cover. You’re guaranteed to find a sparrow to work on identifying while out birding.
In our last article, we started talking about “sneaky sparrows” and concentrated on those larger streaky species, such as Song, Lincoln’s, and Savannah Sparrows. This month we are going to talk about un-streaked sparrows, including Swamp, Chipping and Field which all have their own preferred habitats here in Western North Carolina.

Follow this link   for Simon’s sneaky, not streaky, sparrow sketch!
Bird Notes
by Rick Pyeritz

“Oh, for the wings of a dove,” men, envious cry.
What bones, what muscles, have birds, and not I,
 That give them freedom of the boundless sky?
                                                                                             Joel Peters
 March, a time of beginnings and endings for birds. For migrants, it is a time to leave their wintering grounds and complete an awe-inspiring, hazardous journey to their summer homes for the spring breeding season. This issue of Bird Notes delves into whether birds need to increase their physical fitness prior to their long migrations. A Ruby-throated hummingbird weighs less than a nickel. How can it fly across the Gulf of Mexico? The answer may surprise you. To find out more about the amazing muscles and lungs of birds, follow this link .
Baltimore Orioles by Eric Nie
Beaver Bits
Text by Jay Wherley
It’s early 1988, and the pressure is on the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society and its supporters to come up with $400,000 to purchase a 4 acre property on Beaver Lake that is otherwise destined for strip mall ubiquity. Hundreds of individual donations ranging from $3 to $3,000 totaled approximately $100,000. The City of Asheville and Buncombe County added $50,000 each. The Steelcase Foundation gave $10,000. An anonymous local foundation generously pitched in $100,000. Owner and developer George Beverly donated $25,000 towards the cause.
 The Editorial Board of the Asheville Citizen-Times opined, on August 19 th , 1988, in part:
“We have a chance to do exactly that with the proposed Beaver Lake Sanctuary. If this small park and wildlife refuge takes shape as envisioned, our community will have created an unusual kind of place that can be used both for learning and for leisure. What began as a campaign of opposition – an effort to prevent the building of stores at the upper end of Beaver Lake – has evolved into a positive movement to give the city a lasting asset. It’s the type of initiative you often see in creative and striving communities.”

With an already extended deadline approaching in November 1988, EMAS worked with the Trust for Public Land to secure a $70,000 loan for the balance of the property cost. There was less than 24 hours remaining on that final deadline when these groups made the deal that provided us with the initial land for Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. The new partial loan required repayment by July 21, 1989, so even though the initial need had been met, fund raising continued. The property was not a full sanctuary yet however – next month we’ll look at the upgrades and enhancements made to the site over the intervening years.
Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Common Yellowthroat and Common Mergansers.
  • View of future Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary area, postcard c. 1950s/60s
  • View of future Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary area, Lakeview Park Commission brochure c. 1920s
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/Instagram