High Peaks Birders had its beginning with the monthly strolls offered by High Peaks Trail Association starting in March 2014. Laura Seelbach and Bob Repoley lead the strolls and eventually went on to organize the Yancey County Christmas Bird Count later that year. Both the strolls and the CBC were well attended by birders and nature lovers from expert to beginner.
Springing from these successful ventures, a core group of interested people met in January 2015 with the intention of exploring the possibility of starting a birding club in Yancey County, which was eventually called “Yancey Birders”. The core group, now known as the OWLS, began organizing birding activities in the county and at the same time opened up discussions with High Peaks Trail Association about coming under the “wing” of High Peaks.
In May 2015 after organizing two successful general meetings and contributing to other birding activities in Yancey County, Yancey Birders joined High Peaks Trail Association and took the new name of High Peaks Birders. All of our events are free and open to the public. We do not have a formal membership. Anyone who comes to an event or meeting can choose to be on the High Peaks Birders mailing list and receive our occasional Newsletter. If you do not receive our Newsletter and would like to, simply click on the link “Subscribe Mail List” at the top right of this page. We encourage all birders to join High Peaks Trail Association and support the people who support us.
The OWLS continue to meet once a month to plan programs and activities. These meetings are open to the public. Please feel welcome to attend and take part in what we are hooting about. We also offer monthly birding strolls at Cane River Park and maintain a growing list of birds spotted during these outings. Check out the High Peaks Monthly Activity Calendar for more details. For some tips on birding, please read our Birding Etiquette Guide.
Taking Actions for Birds
As a result of the 2016 election, the Republicans have control of the White House, the US Senate, and the US House of Representatives. All three of these agree on an agenda of reduced environmental regulations. An example of what they have in mind: the Obama era regulation that halted the dumping of mine waste in mountain streams (to date, over 1,500 miles of streams have been destroyed) was rescinded in the first month of the Trump administration. Known target agencies are EPA, multiple bureaus within Department of the Interior, US Forest Service (Dept of Agriculture). The announced legislative targets I am most familiar with are the Endangered Species Act (the last hope for an increasing number of species), and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA, the bedrock for protection of migratory birds for 100 years despite powerful opposition). You will recall that the US House of Representatives advanced a bill last year that would have eliminated all enforcement funding for the MBTA. This would have effectively repealed the Act had it passed. Other targets include the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. The stars are now aligned for the extreme anti-environmentalists to take the teeth out of any and all legislation that results in environmental protection. Not surprisingly, this has alarmed conservation organizations and scientists across the country including National Audubon, The Wildlife Society and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). The American Bird Conservancy has take the step of preparing a sign-on petition to the US Congress urging them to maintain protections for migratory birds. The OWLS discussed this topic and decided that High Peaks Birders (HPB) would sign on to the petition. Since we are organizationally affiliated with the NC High Peaks Trail Association, our representative to their Board of Directors asked their opinion about the HPB signing on to the petition. Not only did they approve, they signed on as well. A note to HPB members: please consider calling or writing a personal email to each member of NC delegation to Congress that represents you (Sen. Tillis, Sen. Burr and Rep. Meadows) and urge them in strong terms to maintain protections for birds. The link for the ABC petition:
US Senators: Richard Burr 202-224-3154
Thom Tillis 202-224-6342
US Representative: Mark Meadows 202-225-6401 Thanks for helping the birds!
Bill Jones, founder and president of Carolina Native Nursery on Prices Creek Road, has agreed to take time out from his busy spring schedule to present a talk to our membership called, Native Plants For Birds. This is an excellent opportunity to talk to an expert about native plants and birds and how they interact. Learn what to plant this spring and summer at your house or place of business.
You can find Carolina Native Nursery's plants on the Biltmore Estate, in Central Park, on the Mall in D.C., at Monticello, in the pollinator garden at Cane River Park and in public and private gardens from Atlanta to Maine. Join us for this spring talk. As always, it is free and open to the public.
Join us for this special opportunity Birding Stroll to the Green Knob Fire Tower. North Carolina High Peaks Trail Association has made arrangements with the Forest Service to open the fire tower for NC High Peaks Birders. This is a rare opportunity for birders to have access to the tower, located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We will take the short, 1/4 mile trail up to the tower, birding along the way and end up on the tower platform a little above tree top level. This is a moderate hike with an elevation gain of about 300 feet.
We will leave from the Burnsville Town Square at 8:30 am. Transportation will be provided on Yancey County vans for a donation of $5. Reservations are required. We will arrive back on the square around 12:30 pm. If you wish to drive your own vehicle, meet us at the Green Knob Fire Tower overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway at 9:15 am. To reserve a spot on the van call 682-3733 and leave your name and phone number. Rain date is April 22.
Recent Bird Observations In Yancey County
On The Blue Ridge Parkway: Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Red-Tailed Hawk, Blue-headed Vireo, Common Raven, Red-breasted Nut Hatch, Winter Wren, Black-throated Green Warbler, Fox Sparrow.
In the Valleys: Bald Eagle, Pie-billed Grebe, Blue-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Ospray, American Kestrel, Red-shouldered Hawk, Ruffed Grouse, Red-winged Black Bird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, White-Breasted Nuthatch.