Upcoming Events

Birding Events

Join Blue Ridge Audubon for birding on these Saturdays.

Free and open to all.

Please note the start time changes to 8 a.m. in April.

Many thanks to the guides at Ventures Birding

for leading our outings.

March 16, 9 a.m.

Owen Park

April 6, 8 a.m.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

April 13, 8 a.m.

Jackson Park

April 20, 8 a.m.

Owen Park


March Program

An Oceanic Journey to Antarctica and Cape Horn

Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m.

Reuter Center, UNCA

Plants for Birds Outing

Saturday, March 23, 1 p.m.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

April Program

NC Bird Atlas:

The Past, Present and Future

Tuesday, April 16, 7 p.m.

Reuter Center UNCAsheville

Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, March 12, 6:30 p.m.

To attend, email:

Visit our website:
President's Message

Dear Nancy,

I had a Pine Siskin in my yard the other day. I've seen Pine Siskins before, but this was the first time I have seen one in my yard, so it was a special sighting for me. Their husky rising Wheee call from the treetops instantly made me look up and stop what I was doing to enjoy fully this new visitor.

Winter birds in western North Carolina are a more subtle joy than in other seasons. Gone are the ephemeral but exciting migrants that show up in flashy spring colors or more muted fall tones, here for a week or two, or even just a day. Missing also are the ebullient dawn choruses and territorial songs of warblers, House Wrens, and Scarlet Tanagers in the forest canopy around us. Sure, it is certainly the season for weird ducks for those who brave the passage of a cold front to scope the local lakes, but for most of us, the regularity of the hardy residents coming to our feeder is more a comfort to us than unbridled excitement. The chickadees and titmice flitting through the shrubs and the towhees and sparrows in the leaf litter underneath let us know that even in the short winter days life still stirs in the mostly dormant mountains. As the February warm-ups bring up the first flowers (and make us wonder if a late freeze will be their undoing), so, too, they make the cardinals and robins, who seem to be warming up their voices, impatient for spring. It is almost a time where anticipation for spring drowns out the presence of late winter.

Which is why the unexpected--for me, at least-- brings me such joy. While I always relish the first Pine Warbler of February, the appearance of a dozen juncos under my feeder, or the glimpse of a Brown Creeper among the busy kinglets at Beaver Lake are sights that firmly anchor me to the present: a late winter day where the weather may not be ideal, but where I can enjoy the delights of what those winter days uniquely bring. And when that day brings something new--like my first pine siskin in the yard (I still await the first purple finch to show at my feeder), the unexpected brings delight indeed.

Blue Ridge Audubon has a lot planned this spring--some great evening programs, another Birdathon, exciting outings and other events. Be sure to check our calendar so that you can join us. But I hope that in the meantime you can enjoy the quieter times that late winter affords us--and even get some unexpected joys, whether brought by a bird or otherwise.

John Koon

President, Blue Ridge Audubon

Pine Siskin by Alan Lenk

An Oceanic Journey to Antarctica and Cape Horn with Simon Thompson

7 p.m. Tuesday, March 19

Reuter Center, UNCA

or join us on Zoom

Antarctica, the icy wonderland at the bottom of the world, captivates the imagination with its snowy beauty and awe-inspiring landscapes. From glaciers and icebergs to penguins and seals, there is no place like it on earth. In December 2023, Ventures Birding Tours of Asheville embarked on an Antarctic journey, birding from the comfort of a cruise ship. From their vantage point on the bow of the ship, tour participants enjoyed awesome views of an amazing variety of birds: 6 species of penguins, 8 albatross species, 29 different petrel species and more! Join us for a virtual trip on the cruise ship with Ventures owner Simon Thompson who will recap their tour to the Southern Oceans and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Originally from Suffolk, England, Simon Thompson lived in North Carolina for over 20 years and now resides in Saxmundham. Prior to moving to the States, he lived in Lebanon, Kenya, Yemen, and Ghana, where his interest in birds and natural history began. In addition to traveling extensively in the United States, Simon spent six months in China studying both crane and birds of prey migration as a member of the British "China Crane Watch" expedition. As owner and operator of Ventures Birding Tours, Simon has led countless birding trips all over the world and is renowned as an exceptional birder, guide, and raconteur.

Blue Ridge Audubon programs are free and open to all. 

Blue Ridge Audubon's 2024

Birdathon Fundraiser

Do you have a hankering to find more than 100 bird species in one day? To compete with other birders to see who can spot the most species? To wander from predawn to after dark chasing birds around our beautiful region? To raise money for conservation? Well, if you do, then get a team together and join the Blue Ridge Audubon’s Birdathon! Our Birdathon takes place in May and is a one-day (24 hour) birding event in which birders try to spot as many species as possible and raise money for conservation. It's fun to participate and do a "Big Day" here in the mountains and, at the same time, help us raise money to support bird conservation. The rules are simple: use one car, bird together for 24 hours (or less!), only bird the surrounding counties and have a good time.

If you are interested in forming a team, please send an email to We can answer any questions you have and provide you with the Birdathon fundraising form and the Birdathon rules. Please act soon so we can add your team’s name to the Birdathon flyer.

We invite everyone to join in the fun, and the fundraising! 

Photo of the Peregrine team

Lights Out, Asheville!

Help Protect Migratory Birds

With the sad news of the demise of Flaco the Owl, the Eurasian Eagle-Owl who escaped from New York City’s Central Park Zoo in 2023, attention has focused on making our cities safer for birds. The state of New York has a proposed Bird Safe Buildings Act in the works. Here in Asheville, thanks to the work of BRAC and the Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville, the city government passed a proclamation to bring awareness to the negative effects of indoor and outdoor lighting on migrating birds.

March through May are the springtime Bird Migration Awareness months. The Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville has some great tips to help birds migrate safely through our city. These actions help birds and night-flying insects as well as reduce energy consumption.

  • Turn off lights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Angle outdoor lights downward.
  • Install motion sensors or timers on outdoor lights to reduce usage.

You can also put bird-safe window treatments on any exterior windows that birds may collide with. Change outdoor bulbs to yellow to help insects.

Please do your part to make Asheville Bird-Safe!

Featured Presentations

at Local Libraries

Coloring the Conservation Conversation

a talk by J. Drew Lanham

Ornithologist, writer, and conservationist, J. Drew Lanham, will be the Transylvania County Library’s Spring 2024 J.R. McDowell speaker. His talk will be held on Thursday, April 11th at 7:00 pm in the Porter Center at Brevard College. Free tickets will be available at the Transylvania County Library beginning Monday, March 11.

Dr. Lanham is a 2022 MacArthur Fellow and Master Teacher of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, where his most recent scholarly efforts address the confluences of race, place and nature. He is the award-winning author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. Dr. Lanham has become one of the nation’s most influential voices on race and conservation.

To reserve a ticket for pick up on the evening of the event, call 828-884-3151 extension 2.  

Blue Ridge Audubon's first Motus tower installation is complete! 

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has finished construction of the Mud Creek Motus Station, part of the Motus Network--a collaborative research network that tracks bird and wildlife movements for conservation. This is one of two Motus stations that will be set up using the proceeds from last year's Blue Ridge Audubon Birdathon. This station was set up primarily to track movements of shorebirds and field birds that utilize the open land adjacent to the French Broad River south of Asheville, but it will be able to detect any tagged migratory bird that passes within 5 miles of this site. You can view detections on the station's web page here

This tower was set up on land that is held in trust by Conserving Carolina, originally purchased to protect riverine sloughs that serve as critical muskellunge nursery habitat. The other location should be selected as early as this month--stay tuned for details!

Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley

March at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is when we start getting excited about Spring bird migration! What can we expect to see this month? Here is a list of the most common birds arriving:

Blue-winged Teal – March leads into their most abundant time here in April.

Horned Grebe – March is the best Spring month to see them.

Green Heron – this breeding species returns at the end of March

Blue-headed Vireo – listen for this returning breeding species starting the last two weeks of March.

Purple Martin – If we’re going to get martins in our on-site housing, they may arrive at the end of March

Swallows – both Barn Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows will join the already present Tree swallows in March

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – this on-site breeder arrives in March

House Wren – the arrival of this species will overlap in March with the remaining Winter Wrens that leave through April for higher elevations.

* * *

Recent notable sightings at Beaver Lake include Merlin and Redhead.


Blue-headed Vireo, BLBS, March 2022

Blue-winged Teal, BLBS, March 2017

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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