Authored by John Connors
Wake Audubon volunteers and students from the NC State College of Natural Resources spent Saturday morning clearing saplings from a half-acre plot at Schenck Forest. Our goal was simple…to maintain a setting for woodcock courtship next spring. Although it was cold, the shining sun warmed us quickly as we clipped blackberry vines, small pines and hardwoods leaving intact a broomsedge-dominated opening.
Here we are at the start of the morning.
Schenck Forest is an outdoor teaching lab for the Department of Forestry at NC State University. Much of it is managed as pine forest, but in a recent agreement with Wake Audubon, sections will be maintained as early successional forest to improve wildlife habitat and viewing opportunities associated with them.
John Connors, Wake Audubon’s Woodcock expert, explained that cutting trees in a forest can have benefits for some wildlife species- and that it is essential for species like American Woodcock. John was both a Forestry student and a Wildlife student at NCSU, and studied woodcock at Schenck Forest during that time. “I think it’s great that we can use Schenck as a setting where we showcase the benefits of forest management for both wood products, and wildlife. It’s great for the students to see this. It’s great for the public who like to see the woodcock perform their weird courtship antics. And it’s great for the birds. I’ve led woodcock walks for 35 years here in Raleigh…thousands of people…but this is the first time we’ve been able to give back to the birds who’ve provided so much entertainment. I really appreciate that the managers at Schenck will work with us on this!”
Woodcock is a species of shorebird that has taken to living in the wet, wooded thickets across North Carolina. They are hard to spot because they are medium-sized mottled brown birds that spend their time searching for earthworms in the forest soil and leaf litter. They are extremely well camouflaged.
The best time to observe Woodcock is during their courtship displays. Wake Audubon schedules its annual walk to coincide with Valentine’s Day in February. The males make a strange ‘peenting’ sound on the courtship ground. They then launch into the sky, with wings whistling, as they fly upward. As they reach a height where they are barely visible, the descent begins. They voice a soft, liquid warble until they approach the original launch pad. Then the process begins anew. These courtship displays occur for 20 minutes at dusk and dawn. Look on the Wake Audubon calendar for the next Woodcock walk – sometime next February at Schenck.
Here are before and after pictures.
Authored by John Gerwin
The now-annual spring (mid-May) mountain birding trip, co-sponsored by Wake Audubon and the Museum of Natural Sciences, was another fantastic weekend of bird-watching. We were not-so-pleasantly surprised to wake up on Saturday morning to a temperature of 37 degrees! And again it was mid-May. But that is how it is in the “northern” mountains of NC.
Bobolink in flight. Photo by Dan and Sue Harvey
We left Friday morning, and our first birding stop was at a familiar hayfield along the Blue Ridge Parkway where a dozen or more Bobolinks have been breeding for nearly a decade. This year the winds were high which made for some great views of males doing their aerial courtship display flights, and chases of both males and females. Those same winds made it impossible to hear any sparrows that might have been singing – we suspect no self-respecting sparrow was even trying. We next headed to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express (which gives our group a super low rate for this time of year).
Dark-eyed Junco female with nest material. Photo by Dan and Sue Harvey
On Saturday morning, the 23 of us headed for Trout Lake trails at Moses Cone Memorial Park. Here we found various warblers, such as Black-throated Blue, Canada, Hooded, Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian. We watched a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers at their nest, feeding young, and an adorable Junco with nest material in its beak that looked like Witch’s Broom material – wispy, reddish-brown strands of something, nearly as long as the bird.
Baltimore Oriole. Photo by Dan and Sue Harvey
We headed to the Valle Crucis Community Park for lunch and after-lunch birding. This site is wonderful for finding some cool birds that are then easy to view, such as Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Cedar Waxwing, Least and Willow Flycatchers, Yellow Warbler, and this year, a Yellow-throated Vireo at near eye level and a mere 30’ away when found and first watched.
Scarlet Tanager. Photo by Dan and Sue Harvey
On Sunday we spend the morning hours at a pullover just west of Elk Knob State Natural Area. Here we found Golden-winged Warbler and more Chestnut-sided Warblers, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager, and Common Raven. We then went into the Park to rustle up a few more species. After this we headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Jeffress Park overlook. Here we found, as before, great views of Black-throated Green Warbler. We heard Cerulean and Blackburnian but did not see either this time (we have in the past, at this spot). All in all, in spite of the low 30’s on Saturday, we had another great time enjoying the birds of this region, along with some of the spring flowers, and notoriously bad puns of from a couple of the leaders.
Authored by Jeff Beane
Wake Audubon’s Wildathon took place on May 5-6. This was the first year that we conducted our survey on a weekday. Our “24-Hour Dream Team” members were Jeff Beane, Ed Corey, Bob Davis, John Finnegan, Stephanie Horton. We counted all vertebrates.
|Mon., 8:05 a.m. For the 8th consecutive year, we kicked off our event with Eastern Glass Lizards (three of them this time) at Carolina Beach.|
We officially began our count at 8:05 a.m. on 5 May and ended at 8:05 a.m. on 6 May. Beane, Corey, Davis, and Horton participated for the entire 24 hours; Finnegan took a sleep break between ca. 12:30 and 5:30 a.m. Our search included portions of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, New Hanover, Pender, Richmond, Robeson, and Scotland counties, NC. We began at 1208 Canal Drive (ca. 1.0 airmi. NNE Carolina Beach) in New Hanover County and ended on the Sandhills Game Lands WNW of Hoffman in Richmond County.The weather was mostly sunny and breezy, with temperatures slightly lower than average, especially at night; no precipitation; high temperatures in the 80sºF and lows in the 50sºF.
|Mon., 1:58 p.m. Corey and Horton scan for more species from the Ft. Fisher-Southport ferry.|
Techniques: Most species were observed via visual and auditory searches, while walking and driving. Binoculars and a spotting scope were used to assist in viewing many species. Several species were taken in dipnets, seines, minnow traps, and drift fences; and several were found by turning logs, boards, sheet metal, leaf litter, or other surface cover. One bat species was confirmed via an Anabat detector. Several species were observed only as road-kills or otherwise dead specimens; these are noted by an asterisk (*).
Raja eglanteria Clearnose Skate
Anguilla rostrata American Eel
Brevoortia tyrannus Atlantic Menhaden *
Umbra pygmaea Eastern Mudminnow
Esox americanus Redfin Pickerel
Esox niger Chain Pickerel
Clinostomus funduloides Rosyside Dace
Hybopsis hypsinotus Highback Chub
Nocomis leptocephalus Bluehead Chub
Notropis altipinnis Highfin Shiner
Notropis chiliticus Redlip Shiner
Notropis maculatus Taillight Shiner
Notropis petersoni Coastal Shiner
Minytrema melanops Spotted Sucker
Noturus insignis Margined Madtom
Pylodictis olivaris Flathead Catfish *
Chologaster cornuta Swampfish
Aphredoderus sayanus Pirate Perch
Fundulus chrysotus Golden Topminnow
Fundulus heteroclitus Mummichog
Fundulus lineolatus Lined Topminnow
Fundulus luciae Spotfin Killifish
Fundulus waccamensis Waccamaw Killifish
Lucania parva Rainwater Killifish
Gambusia holbrooki Eastern Mosquitofish
Heterandria formosa Least Killifish
Menidia menidia Atlantic Silverside
Chaenobryttus gulosus Warmouth
Enneacanthus chaetodon Black-banded Sunfish
Enneacanthus gloriosus Blue-spotted Sunfish
Lepomis auritus Redbreast Sunfish
Lepomis gibbosus Pumpkinseed
Lepomis macrochirus Bluegill
Lepomis marginatus Dollar Sunfish
Lepomis microlophus Redear Sunfish
Micropterus salmoides Largemouth Bass
Pomoxis nigromaculatus Black Crappie
Elassoma boehlkei Carolina Pygmy Sunfish
Elassoma evergladei Everglades Pygmy Sunfish
Elassoma zonatum Banded Pygmy Sunfish
Etheostoma [flabellare] brevispinum Carolina Fantail Darter
Etheostoma olmstedi Tessellated Darter
Centropristis striata Black Sea Bass
Morone americanus White Perch *
Archosargus probatocephalus Sheepshead *
Lagodon rhomboides Pinfish
Leiostomus xanthurus Spot
Micropogonias undulatus Atlantic Croaker
Mugil curema White Mullet
Necturus punctatus Dwarf Waterdog
Ambystoma tigrinum Eastern Tiger Salamander
Notophthalmus viridescens dorsalis Broken-striped Newt
Desmognathus fuscus Northern Dusky Salamander
Eurycea n. sp. “Sandhills Eurycea”
Eurycea cirrigera Southern Two-lined Salamander
Plethodon chlorobryonis Atlantic Coast Slimy Salamander
Scaphiopus holbrookii Eastern Spadefoot
Bufo [= Anaxyrus] terrestris Southern Toad
Acris gryllus Southern Cricket Frog
Hyla andersonii Pine Barrens Treefrog
Hyla chrysoscelis Cope’s Gray Treefrog
Hyla cinerea Green Treefrog
Hyla femoralis Pine Woods Treefrog
Hyla gratiosa Barking Treefrog
Hyla squirella Squirrel Treefrog
Pseudacris crucifer Spring Peeper
Gastrophryne carolinensis Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad
Rana catesbeiana [Lithobates catesbeianus] American Bullfrog
Rana [= Lithobates] clamitans Green Frog
Rana [= Lithobates] palustris Pickerel Frog
Rana sphenocephala [= Lithobates sphenocephalus] Southern Leopard Frog
Rana [= Lithobates] virgatipes Carpenter Frog
Alligator mississippiensis American Alligator
Kinosternon subrubrum Eastern Mud Turtle
Sternotherus odoratus Eastern Musk Turtle
Pseudemys concinna [floridana] River Cooter (“Florida Cooter” types)
Terrapene carolina Eastern Box Turtle
Trachemys scripta Yellow-bellied Slider
Anolis carolinensis Green Anole
Cnemidophorus sexlineatus [= Aspidoscelis sexlineata] Six-lined Racerunner
Eumeces [= Plestiodon] fasciatus Five-lined Skink
Eumeces [= Plestiodon] inexpectatus Southeastern Five-lined Skink
Eumeces [= Plestiodon] laticeps Broadhead Skink
Scincella lateralis Ground Skink
Ophisaurus ventralis Eastern Glass Lizard
Coluber constrictor Black Racer
Elaphe guttata [= Pantherophis guttatus, etc.] Corn Snake
Elaphe obsoleta [= Pantherophis obsoletus, etc.] Rat Snake
Farancia abacura Mud Snake *
Nerodia fasciata Banded Water Snake
Nerodia taxispilota Brown Water Snake
Opheodrys aestivus Rough Green Snake *
Pituophis melanoleucus Northern Pine Snake *
Storeria dekayi Brown Snake *
Storeria occipitomaculata Red-bellied Snake
Tantilla coronata Southeastern Crowned Snake
Agkistrodon contortrix Copperhead *
Agkistrodon piscivorus Cottonmouth *
Aix sponsa Wood Duck
Anas platyrhynchos Mallard
Branta canadensis Canada Goose
Colinus virginianus Northern Bobwhite
Meleagris gallopavo Wild Turkey
Phalacrocorax auritus Double-crested Cormorant
Anhinga anhinga Anhinga
Pelecanus occidentalis Brown Pelican
Ardea alba Great Egret
Ardea herodias Great Blue Heron
Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret
Butorides virescens Green Heron
Egretta caerulea Little Blue Heron
Egretta thula Snowy Egret
Egretta tricolor Tricolored Heron
Eudocimus albus White Ibis
Cathartes aura Turkey Vulture
Coragyps atratus Black Vulture
Pandion haliaetus Osprey
Buteo lineatus Red-shouldered Hawk
Haliaeetus leucocephalus Bald Eagle
Fulica americana American Coot
Rallus longirostris Clapper Rail
Charadrius semipalmatus Semipalmated Plover
Charadrius vociferus Killdeer
Charadrius wilsonia Wilson’s Plover
Pluvialis squatarola Black-bellied Plover
Haematopus palliatus American Oystercatcher
Arenaria interpres Ruddy Turnstone
Actitis macularia Spotted Sandpiper
Calidris alba Sanderling
Calidris alpina Dunlin
Calidris minutilla Least Sandpiper
Calidris pusilla Semipalmated Sandpiper
Limnodromus griseus Short-billed Dowitcher
Limosa fedoa Marbled Godwit
Numenius phaeopus Whimbrel
Tringa melanoleuca Greater Yellowlegs
Tringa semipalmata Willet
Larus argentatus Herring Gull
Larus delawarensis Ring-billed Gull
Larus marinus Great Black-backed Gull
Leucophaeus [= Larus] atricilla Laughing Gull
Gelochelidon [= Sterna] nilotica Gull-billed Tern
Rhynchops niger Black Skimmer
Sterna forsteri Forster’s Tern
Sterna hirundo Common Tern
Sternula antillarum Least Tern
Thalasseus maximus [= Sterna maxima] Royal Tern
Thalasseus [= Sterna] sandvicensis Sandwich Tern
Columba livia Rock Pigeon
Streptopelia decaocto Eurasian Collared-Dove
Zenaida macroura Mourning Dove
Coccyzus americanus Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Strix varia Barred Owl
Caprimulgus carolinensis Chuck-Will’s-Widow
Caprimulgus vociferus Whip-Poor-Will
Chordeiles minor Common Nighthawk
Chaetura pelagica Chimney Swift
Archilochus colubris Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Megaceryle alcyon Belted Kingfisher
Colaptes auratus Northern Flicker
Dryocopus pileatus Pileated Woodpecker
Melanerpes carolinus Red-bellied Woodpecker
Melanerpes erythrocephalus Red-headed Woodpecker
Picoides borealis Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Picoides pubescens Downy Woodpecker
Picoides villosus Hairy Woodpecker
Contopus virens Eastern Wood-Pewee
Empidonax virescens Acadian Flycatcher
Myiarchus crinitus Great Crested Flycatcher
Sayornis phoebe Eastern Phoebe
Tyrannus tyrannus Eastern Kingbird
Lanius ludovicianus Loggerhead Shrike
Vireo flavifrons Yellow-throated Vireo
Vireo griseus White-eyed Vireo
Vireo olivaceus Red-eyed Vireo
Corvus brachyrhynchos American Crow
Corvus ossifragus Fish Crow
Cyanocitta cristata Blue Jay
Hirundo rustica Barn Swallow
Progne subis Purple Martin
Stelgidopteryx serripennis Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Baeolophus bicolor Tufted Titmouse
Poecile carolinensis Carolina Chickadee
Sitta carolinensis White-breasted Nuthatch
Sitta pusilla Brown-headed Nuthatch
Thryothorus ludovicianus Carolina Wren
Polioptila caerulea Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Catharus ustulatus Swainson’s Thrush
Hylocichla mustelina Wood Thrush
Sialia sialis Eastern Bluebird
Turdus migratorius American Robin
Dumetella carolinensis Gray Catbird
Mimus polyglottos Northern Mockingbird
Toxostoma rufum Brown Thrasher
Sturnus vulgaris European Starling
Bombycilla cedrorum Cedar Waxwing
Geothlypis formosa Kentucky Warbler
Geothlypis trichas Common Yellowthroat
Icteria virens Yellow-breasted Chat
Limnothlypis swainsonii Swainson’s Warbler
Mniotilta varia Black-and-White Warbler
Parkesia motacilla Louisiana Waterthrush
Parkesia noveboracensis Northern Waterthrush
Protonotaria citrea Prothonotary Warbler
Seiurus aurocapillus Ovenbird
Setophaga americana Northern Parula
Setophaga caerulescens Black-throated Blue Warbler
Setophaga citrina Hooded Warbler
Setophaga coronata Yellow-rumped Warbler
Setophaga discolor Prairie Warbler
Setophaga dominica Yellow-throated Warbler
Setophaga magnolia Magnolia Warbler
Setophaga petechia Yellow Warbler
Setophaga pinus Pine Warbler
Setophaga ruticilla American Redstart
Piranga rubra Summer Tanager
Aimophila aestivalis Bachman’s Sparrow
Melospiza georgiana Swamp Sparrow
Pipilo erythrophthalmus Eastern Towhee
Spizella passerina Chipping Sparrow
Spizella pusilla Field Sparrow
Cardinalis cardinalis Northern Cardinal
Passerina caerulea Blue Grosbeak
Passerina ciris Painted Bunting
Passerina cyanea Indigo Bunting
Agelaius phoeniceus Red-winged Blackbird
Icterus spurius Orchard Oriole
Molothrus ater Brown-headed Cowbird
Sturnella magna Eastern Meadowlark
Quiscalus major Boat-tailed Grackle
Quiscalus quiscula Common Grackle
Carpodacus mexicanus House Finch
Passer domesticus House Sparrow
Didelphis virginiana Virginia Opossum
Blarina carolinensis Southern Short-tailed Shrew
Corynorhinus rafinesquii Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat
Eptesicus fuscus Big Brown Bat
Lasiurus borealis Red Bat
Procyon lotor Common Raccoon
Canis latrans Coyote
Urocyon cinereoargenteus Gray Fox
Sciurus carolinensis Eastern Gray Squirrel
Sciurus niger Eastern Fox Squirrel
Microtus pinetorum Pine Vole
Peromyscus leucopus White-footed Mouse *
Sigmodon hispidus Hispid Cotton Rat
Sylvilagus floridanus Eastern Cottontail
Odocoileus virginianus White-tailed Deer
|Mon., 8:11 a.m. Minnow traps yielded Pinfish and several other species. Our hard work on fishes this year paid off.|
|Mon., 8:30 a.m. Green Anole makes an early appearance; Davis spotted this displaying male 25 minutes in.|
|Mon, 9:01 a.m. One of North Carolina’s most common snakes, this Black Racer at Carolina Beach was one of five turned up during the event.|
|Mon., 8:52 a.m. One of North Carolina’s smallest snake species, the tiny Red-bellied Snake is not often encountered during our Wildathons, but this year’s event turned up four. This red phase individual, found under a coverboard at Carolina Beach State Park, was the first snake we encountered.|
|Mon., 9:07 a.m. Most mammals are secretive and not easily observed. This Eastern Fox Squirrel at Carolina Beach State Park was one of two seen during this year’s event.|
|Mon., 9:23 a.m. North Carolina’s largest hylid, the Barking Treefrog is a species we often miss on our Wildathons, but this year we scored this adult, plus another calling, at Carolina Beach State Park.|
|Mon., 10:33 a.m. Birds, like this male Boat-tailed Grackle at Carolina Beach Lake, are always our most abundant and readily detectable vertebrate class.|
|Mon., 10:00 a.m. For flashy, it’s hard to beat a Painted Bunting. This banded male was one of several visiting the feeders at Carolina Beach State Park.|
|Mon., 12 noon. Gull-billed Terns are not the easiest species to get on Wildathons, but we observed several at Ft. Fisher State Recreational Area in Brunswick Co.|
|Mon., 12:17 p.m. Forster’s, Royal, and Sandwich were among the seven tern species we observed during the event.|
|Mon., 12:26 p.m. This Black-bellied Plover, at Fort Fisher State Recreational Area, was already in breeding plumage.|
|Mon., 1:20 p.m. American Oystercatcher and Whimbrel at Ft. Fisher State Recreational Area. We did fairly well on shorebirds this year.|
|Mon., 5:01 p.m. The Brown Water Snakes at White Marsh “hang thick from the cypress trees like sausages on a smokehouse wall.”|
|Tues., 3:06 a.m. A late-night run up into the Uwharries paid off with several predominately Piedmont species, like this Pickerel Frog, spotted (no pun intended) on a stream bank in Montgomery County.|
|Tues., 4:27 a.m. North Carolina’s newly designated State Frog, the beautiful Pine Barrens Treefrog, is uncommon, very locally distributed, and often difficult to find. This male was one of several heard calling in Richmond County in the pre-dawn hours.|
We counted only those species that we could positively identify to the agreement of our team. Big “misses” (species that we certainly should have observed, based on where and how we applied our efforts) included Snapping Turtle, Red-tailed Hawk, American Goldfinch, Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin, and a few others. We recorded a few species not found on any of our previous Wildathons.
Our total species count of 248 was the highest of the 24-hour Dream Team’s 15 Wildathons to date (our previous record was 235, in 2013). For the 8th straight year, it was a pleasure to begin the event with Ophisaurus ventralis (we found three) at Carolina Beach in New Hanover County, in the backyard of the former home of the late Ms. Myrtle Curry, mother of team member Bob Davis. The last species recorded was Pseudacris crucifer, of which two tadpoles were dipped in a small pond on Sandhills Game Lands in Richmond County with less than a minute remaining. The cool weather and wind at night, and the lack of any precipitation, almost certainly hurt our chances with some amphibian and reptile species, and “road-cruising”—usually very effective for amphibians and reptiles—was less effective than usual this year. We salvaged five road-killed snakes (two Elaphe guttata, two Farancia abacura, one Storeria dekayi) for the collections of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, and also collected some Notropis maculatus for the Museum. Many observational records for various species were added to the Museum’s files and the NC Natural Heritage Program’s database.
This was the first time in 15 years that we had attempted a Wildathon over weekdays, and we slightly preferred that to the usual weekend event (fewer people encountered, less traffic).
We dedicate this Wildathon to the late Jack Dermid (wildlife photographer extraordinaire, 1923-2014); to the late Renaldo Kuhler (scientific illustrator extraordinaire and possibly the most unusual person I ever met, 1931-2013); to all our sponsors; and to all wild, free things everywhere.
We thank everyone who pledged our team this year, especially in light of the difficult financial times. At this point, our pledged sponsors include Sunny Allen, Ronn Altig, Rudy Arndt, Jeff Beane, Brady Beck & Laura Teeter, Ann Bilobrowka, Art Bogan, Hal Broadfoot, Alan Cameron, Bob Cherry, Amanda Chunco, John Connors, Ed Corey, Bob Davis & Judy Morgan-Davis, Kelly Davis, Angie & Bill DeLozier, Tom Driscoll, John Finnegan & Stephanie Horton, Martha Fisk, Bob Flook, Jim Green, Jeff Hall, Diane Hardy, Andy Harrison, T.J. Hilliard, Linda Jones, Susan Kelemen, Kelley & Yancy King, Jane & Craig Lawrence, Greg Lewbart & Diane Deresienski, Roland Kays, Gerry Luginbuhl, Ellen Lyle, Jeff Marcus, Bob Oberfelder, Zach Orr, Chip Parnell, Jo Ann Parnell, Anne Porter, Linda Rudd, Annie Runyon, Jessie Schillaci, Melody Scott, Kim Smart, Don Stanger, Joanne St. Clair, Dorothy Stowe, Paulette Van de Zande, Peter Warny, Kari Wouk, and almost certainly some others we may have inadvertently left out. Special thanks to Ed Corey for allowing use of his personal vehicle, to Nate Shepard for assistance with setting minnow traps in the NC Sandhills, and to the staff at Carolina Beach State Park and Ft. Fisher State Recreational Area for providing special access. Jeff Beane and Bob Davis provided lodging. Monies raised will be used to support the usual projects (Audubon’s Coastal Island Sanctuaries, local Wake Audubon projects, Project Bog Turtle, and Project Simus). Your generous support is greatly appreciated! You are the reason we keep doing it every year.
If you have not already done so, please send your pledges to the address below (or give them to any of our team members or to Wake Audubon Treasurer John Gerwin) as soon as possible. Make checks payable to “Wake Audubon” (or “NC Herpetological Society” if you want to donate only to those projects). You can also use the PayPal option on Wake Audubon’s website (under “donate” down on the left side of the home page), but please indicate that your donation is for the Wildathon, and let us know that you’ve paid via that option. Please contact one of us if you have any other questions.
We thoroughly enjoyed the event, and we are already looking forward to participating again next year. Sincere thanks from all of us!
Authored by Gerry Luginbuhl
Scientists with the N. C. Museum of Natural Sciences will be banding Purple Martins at Prairie Ridge on Friday, June 13th from 9:30 to noon. They are inviting interested Wake Audubon members and others to come out to the colony site to watch and help with the banding. This is a great chance to see these birds up close and to observe the banding process, which also includes collecting data on the birds’ weights, wing lengths, and more.
Purple Martin colony at Prairie Ridge
The eastern U.S. population of Purple Martins is almost completely dependent on human-supplied nest houses and has been for over 100 years. The western population will use the nest houses, but also uses natural cavities. Because of the dependence of the eastern birds, Wake Audubon worked with the Museum of Natural Sciences and the Purple Martin Preservation Alliance to establish new breeding sites for Purple Martins in Wake County, including the Prairie Ridge Ecostation site. Wake Audubon helped to erect the Purple Martin nesting gourds at Prairie Ridge in the summer of 2004, too late for the birds to nest that year. Birds used the site in 2005, didn’t nest there in 2006, but have returned every year since then. This is their ninth season! It will be exciting to see how many of the current nesting birds have been previously banded, and if they are returnees to Prairie Ridge.
Purple Martins are voracious eaters of large aerial insects such as dragonflies. They catch their meals on the wing. They put on great displays of flight prowess and sometimes fly so high that it is hard to see them. This time of the year, the adults will be bringing lots of food to the nests for their rapidly growing broods. There will be lots of activity.
Prairie Ridge Ecostation is located at 1671 Gold Star Drive, Raleigh, NC.
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.
By Gerry Luginbuhl, Board President
Thanks to all of the folks who donated money to have their bird feeders cleaned this November. Judy, at Logan’s Nursery, contacted me a few months ago to suggest a fundraising idea. She offered to collect people’s birdfeeders during the month of November and keep track of the feeders to make sure everyone got the right feeder back after it had been cleaned. We decided on a suggested donation of five dollars per feeder, and worked out a biweekly pick-up schedule. We put a notice about the cleaning on our web site and Logan’s also sent out a notice in their monthly email. We ended up with 40 feeders (and many baffles). Judy collected the donations as they came in and handed me an envelope full of checks on December 2nd. At five dollars/feeder, that would have brought Wake Audubon two hundred dollars, but, due to the generosity of many, we collected three hundred and forty-five dollars! Way to go! Look for us to repeat this fundraiser next year, probably in October rather than November. We will be looking for some volunteers to help me next time; I have learned how to disassemble and reassemble a bunch of different types of birdfeeders and am happy to do this again next year.
If you missed this year’s feeder cleaning, here is how to do it yourself.
Rinse off loose dirt and seed
Soak feeder in mild detergent solution and scrub inside and out with appropriate sized brush
Sanitize by soaking feeder in a mild bleach solution (one part bleach to 9 parts water)
Allow the feeder to dry completely before refilling it with seed.
The NC Wildlife Federation has chosen Jeff Beane as its 2012 Wildlife Conservationist of the Year. Jeff Beane is Wake Audubon Society’s Vice President and is a hero of North Carolina conservation.
“The Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards Program, sponsored by the NC Wildlife Federation and now in its 50th Year, honors those individuals, governmental bodies, associations and others who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina.”
Jeff has terrific expertise in the amphibians and reptiles of North Carolina, in particular their natural history and conservation. He serves as an important resource to numerous councils, committees, and government agencies that deal with the natural heritage of North Carolina, as well as to members of the public. He is the lead author on the 2010 guide Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia (UNC Press), has published numerous scientific papers on the natural history of amphibians and reptiles in North Carolina, and is a regular contributor to many popular publications, in particular the magazine Wildlife in North Carolina.
Jeff’s award will be presented to him at the NC Wildlife Federation’s Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet on Saturday evening, September 7th.
Congratulations to Jeff on his very well-deserved award!
By Brandt (Wake Audubon Young Naturalist since 2010)
Participation in the Young Naturalists Club’s outings has given me some of the best adventures of my life. Take the last excursion, for example. We went on an over-night trip to explore and camp in the Uwharrie National Forest, an ancient and almost mystical place in the center of our state. Mr. Gerwin and Mr. Sean were our intrepid leaders. Their knowledge about every living thing we encountered was amazing. My favorite discovery on the trail was the purple coral fungus, clavaria zollingeri:
Isn’t it cool? I read that it grows in coniferous areas all across Canada and southward in mountain areas. So that’s why we found it in the Uwharrie’s.
At a stream on our first hike, Lily, The Fearless, and Sean showed me proper crayfish holding technique. It was the first time I ever held a crayfish. Mr. (or Mrs.?) Crayfish was a good size for a beginner – not big enough to pinch hard:
Camping was fun. We enjoyed roasted marshmallows over the campfire. One of my marshmallows turned into a chemistry experiment as it reduced itself to a black mass of carbon – I guess I toasted it a little TOO long. We were all tired out from the day, but it was hard to get to sleep because some of the neighbors were pretty noisy until late at night. Around 5 am we had a surprise visitor. A whip-poor-will flew right into our campsite and landed on the picnic bench! He gave a rousing serenade before flying off again. He must have received word that we were all disappointed about not hearing any Nightjars during the YNC Nightjar Survey at Jordan Lake. He made up for that!
On Day 2 of our trip, we visited the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness area. That’s a nice unspoiled area; a place where you can escape the crazy, noisy, hustle and bustle of modern life. We saw a great specimen of a Hognose Snake:
Even in these mountains, it was getting hot and sticky by the end of the trail. We all felt like Roger, the guide dog puppy, and wanted to cool off in the stream:
The one thing I would have liked to have missed on the trip were the chiggers. I’m still itching! The whole idea that a mite too small to see can unleash enzymes that turn parts of me into its personal protein smoothie is just gross. Dealing with the leftovers of its stylostome “straw” in one’s skin is maddening, to say the least. Next time, I’ll be ready with more bug defenses.
I’m looking forward to the next YNC outing to Grandfather Mountain. I love the Boone area. See you there!
(The Wake Audubon Young Naturalist Club offers youth ages 12-18 opportunities to explore nature together. Monthly outings include environmental service projects, local bird walks and full-day adventures from the mountains to the coast.)
24-hour Grand Opening of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center
Volunteers are needed to staff the Wake Audubon Society booth for the opening of the Nature Research Center, which is being held on April 20-21. The booth will focus on the chimney swift fundraising/education efforts. This booth will have both educational elements (faux chimney that opens up to show you a swift at a nest) as well as a fun game or two (chimney swift bean bag toss into a chimney, like the corn-hole game everyone is playing these days). We will have prizes, an educational activity packet designed by Annie Runyan for sale, etc. WAS will have a booth on Saturday, April 21 from 8 am-6 pm. The Museum expects 100,000 visitors at the NRC opening.
Prior to the event, WAS needs help on this event committee.
If you would like to help with the event and/or serve on the event committee, please contact Anita Kuehne at [email protected]
The new 80,000 square-foot wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will connect people to research by bringing scientists and their work into the public eye, helping demystify what can be an intimidating field of study, better prepare science educators and students, and inspire a new generation of young scientists.
The mission of the NRC is “Connecting People to Research.”
Tonight’s monthly meeting will be canceled due to the inclement weather. Enjoy the snow and busy feeders today!