Upcoming Events
Birding Events

Join Blue Ridge Audubon for birding three Saturdays each month.
Free and open to all.

Many thanks to the guides at Ventures Birding
for leading our outings.

October 1, 9 a.m.

October 8, 9 a.m.

October 15, 9 a.m.

November 5, 9 a.m.


Swift Night Out!
Thursday, Sept 29 at 6:45 p.m.
Civic Center Parking Garage
Seventh Floor

Blue Ridge Audubon Program
Snowy Owls with Denver Holt
Tuesday, October 11, 7 p.m.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary Native Plant Tour
Saturday, September 24, 1-3 p.m.

Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, October 4 at 6:30 p.m.
Open to everyone. Contact us to attend
President's Message
Dear friend,

Fall has arrived. The weather doesn't seem to know it yet, but the birds do! Reports from Ridge Junction and other mountain gaps near Asheville are full of warblers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and even an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Yesterday at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary I was privileged enough to glimpse Blackburnian Warblers and a Yellow-throated Vireo as they stopped to fuel up on insects in the meadow. It's an exciting time for birders to be sure.
This fall is also an exciting time for Blue Ridge Audubon. We have a great line-up of events to celebrate fall migration and beyond. In addition to our three monthly guided bird outings and wildflower walk, September is our annual Swift Night Out. As daylight fades on the evening of Thursday, September 29, we'll convene in downtown Asheville to watch the spectacle of gathering Chimney Swifts unfold as they fill the sky and then form an avian tornado, swirling down into a nearby chimneys. Last year there were an estimated 7-10,000 swifts! And while we can't promise you that many swifts, I will promise you a night of wonder and camaraderie.
In October, we will move our usual program date forward a week to accommodate a very special opportunity. On Tuesday, October 11, Denver Holt from the Owl Research Institute will regale us with a lecture about Snowy Owls. Denver has been tagging, tracking and studying Snowy Owls in the Arctic for 35 years and is one of the world's foremost authorities on these captivating birds. If you have seen his YouTube videos, you already know that this will be a wonderful evening to share his stories and adventures.
I hope to see you in the field or at a program very soon!

Best regards,

John Koon
President, Blue Ridge Audubon

Blackburnian warbler
Swift Night Out
Thursday, September 29
It's Chimney Swift season, an exciting time of year to see swirling clouds of Swifts as they gather at sunset to enter communal roosting sites. The Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter will sponsor our annual Swift Night Out, a Chimney Swift viewing event scheduled for dusk in downtown Asheville. We'll meet at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, September 29th on the top floor of the Civic Center Parking Deck. For updates in case of inclement weather, please check our website and Facebook page.  

For more information about Chimney Swifts, check out this Audubon North Carolina fact sheet.
Breeding Ecology of the Snowy Owl
with Denver Holt
Tuesday, October 11, 7 p.m.
Reuter Center, UNCAsheville
The Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter is thrilled to offer our members a special program on the charismatic Snowy Owl by one of the species’ foremost experts. Denver Holt, founder and president of the Owl Research Institute, has been a leader in owl research, education, and conservation for over 30 years. Since 1992, he has been studying the breeding ecology of Snowy Owls at Utqiaġvik, Alaska, the northernmost town in the United States and one of the Snowy Owl’s top breeding grounds. Holt’s body of work documents population trends, predator to prey relationships, environmental changes, and countless other phenomena, utilizing owls as bio-indicators of environmental health. His data assists with forest management plans, habitat conservation efforts, and the listing of critical species. His research on the Snowy Owl provides a baseline to track ecological changes in a place where climate change is happening quickly. 
In addition to publishing numerous scientific papers, Holt contributed 4 species accounts to the Birds of North America project. His Alaskan Arctic research on the Snowy Owl has been featured in the National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine and the New York Times. His work with owls has also been highlighted in countless magazines, films, and journals. In 2018 Holt received the prestigious Chandler S. Robbins Award from the American Birding Association. Holt speaks around the world and enjoys guiding nature tours and continuing to learn new things about wildlife and the natural world. 

Blue Ridge Audubon programs are free and open to the public.
Snowy Owl by Alan Lenk
Denver Holt by Melissa Groo
On the Wing
Noah Poulos
This is the time of the year when our cities, parks, and neighborhoods are enlivened with the high-pitched chatter and soaring flights of Chimney Swifts overhead. Small birds with dark gray-brown plumage, Chimney Swifts flock together in fall, gracing urban skies with their amazing aerial maneuvers. 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 hundreds of insects. Incredibly, they also mate and sleep on the wing! Chimney Swifts cannot perch on limbs, fences, and wires, but must cling vertically to surfaces. They 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 those environments were replaced by farms, towns, and neighborhoods, the swifts adapted.   
Despite their abundance in urban environments, Chimney Swifts have seen a 72% decline in population 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 Blue Ridge Audubon’s tower at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Learn more from this Audubon North Carolina fact sheet about what actions you can take to help Chimney Swifts.

Chimney Swift in flight by Alan Lenk, Chimney Swift on the nest by Greg Lasley
Chapter Happenings
Summer SEE Adventure Camp
In August, Blue Ridge Audubon partnered with folks at the NC Arboretum for a great day of fun hosting the Student Enrichment Experience (S.E.E.) campers. These campers are blind or visually impaired students in grades K through 12 (S.E.E. Day Camp - Asheville | IFB Solutions). This is the third year that Blue Ridge Audubon has participated and this year we had ten campers who enjoyed walking the trails, listening to and identifying birds, touching the bark of various trees, and smelling fragrant native plants. After a meet and greet with a snake and tracking a box turtle shell, the campers made and ate delicious s'mores around a campfire. 
Bears, Bees, Brews Festival
Saturday, October 1, noon to 5 p.m.

Bears Bees + Brews Festival is a free, family-friendly event to highlight support for wildlife and wilderness. Show your love for wild creatures large and small, from bears to bees, and birds too. Enjoy family-friendly fun, learn from experts of local wildlife and conservation organizations, enjoy sweet and savory bites, and tasty brews. There will be a live mural painting, games, art, raffles, a photo booth and more! Be sure and participate in the Best-Dressed Wildlife Creature Contest. The Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter will have a table so come dressed as a bird!
Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley
September is an exciting month when migrating warblers pass through our sanctuary on their way south to Latin America. It’s a great time to practice confusing fall warbler identification, and maybe see some easy to i.d. adults too. Spotting any of the eastern warbler species (well over two dozen!) is possible this month.
Based on past sightings in the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, some of the species seem to have a definite travel schedule in September:

Mourning Warbler:   September 8 to 10
Bay-breasted Warbler: Sept. 16 and on
Golden-winged Warbler: Sept. 4 to 22
Blue-winged Warbler:  Sept. 12 - 22
Wilson’s Warbler:  Sept. 4 and on

Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Mississippi Kite and Bald Eagle.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Beaver Lake, September 2015 (top photo)
American Redstart, Beaver Lake, September 2018

Volunteers are needed for a work day at BLBS on Saturday, September 17 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. The work will target Japanese stiltgrass and English ivy. Wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt and pants.
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.
For the latest information and schedule changes,
check our Website or Facebook/Instagram page.