In 1975 the Raleigh Bird Club voted to become affiliated with Audubon and thus became the Wake Audubon Society. The first president of Wake Audubon was Ken Knapp, and chapter membership was about 200. Meetings were held monthly at Meredith College until the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, when they were moved to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Monthly field trips have been offered since the chapter’s inception, and all programs and trips are published in the Chapter’s Annual Calendar of Events. The chapter also invests considerable time in stewardship projects including a streamwatch adoption, along with Purple Martin, Bluebird, Wood Duck and meadow species conservation. In 2000, the chapter published A Birdwatcher’s Guide to the Triangle highlighting the best places in the region to enjoy birds. In 2007, Wake Audubon received the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Environmental Organization of the Year.
Throughout its history, Wake Audubon has responded to threats to local natural areas by petitioning local government to create nature parks and by providing guidance in natural area management. Raleigh city parks that Wake Audubon has been involved in include Anderson Point, Durant Nature Park and Horseshoe Farm Nature Park. Wake County’s Historic Yates Millpond and Cary’s Hemlock Bluffs Nature Park also received early support from Wake Audubon. Petitions and speaking before city and county governing bodies have been on-going activities. In 2001 the chapter received the Fred Fletcher Volunteer Organization of the Year from the Raleigh Parks Department.
Wake Audubon began a “Bird of the Year” program in 2007 in order to educate our community about the challenges these local birds face. We have also maintained special relationships with two species of birds, the American Woodcock and the Chimney Swift. Annual Valentine’s Day (approximately) Woodcock courtship walks are a tradition, and one couple even got engaged during one of the walks. We are working on an agreement with the NC State Forestry department to help maintain Woodcock habitat within their teaching property, Schenk Forest. Wake Audubon began taking inventory of Wake County Chimney Swift roosting chimneys in 1985. As the number of such chimneys decreased, we began developing a plan to provide a safe permanent chimney that could also serve research purposes. That effort led to a partnership with the Museum of Natural Sciences and will shortly lead to the construction of a roosting chimney on their property at Prairie Ridge Ecostation.
Our members have been involved in many statewide projects, including protests against the US Navy’s proposed Outer Landing Field in eastern North Carolina. We have done bird surveys in the Lumber River IBA. Our annual Wild-a-thon supports the Coastal Sanctuaries and Project Bog Turtle as well as local projects. We have spoken at many community clubs meetings, school programs, and events.
As part of our outreach efforts, Wake Audubon began a Meetup group in 2009. The Meetup group currently has 388 members and has listed over 450 Wake Audubon meetings, bird walks and field trips. In 2009, the chapter also began a Young Naturalist group for twelve to eighteen-year olds. This group, currently about fifteen active members, is led by adult volunteers and supported through grants. The chapter as a whole has grown through the years and now boasts over 1500 members.