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Forsyth Audubon Newsletter
November 2020
November Chapter Meeting - Nest Site Competition between Brown-headed Nuthatches and Eastern Bluebirds 

Our presenter for our November Chapter meeting will be Dr. Mark Stanback.  Dr. Stanback is a Behavioral Ecologist at Davidson College.  He will talk to us about his research on Brown-headed Nuthatches and their nest site competition with Eastern Bluebirds in suburban North Carolina.

Brown-headed Nuthatches are often assumed to be pine specialists.  Their decline over the last half-century has been attributed largely to the destruction of the pristine pine habitat with which they are associated.  However, work by Dr. Stanback and his students  have found that these nuthatches can thrive in suburban habitats...even where pines are not the dominant tree...but only when steps are taken to minimize nest site competition with Eastern Bluebirds.  

We will be meeting virtually again this month.  Our Chapter Meeting will take place on Zoom on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00 PM.  Look for an upcoming email notice with information on how to receive the Zoom link to this Chapter Meeting.  Mark your Calendars!  You won't want to miss this program!  
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Committee Update  (EDI)
We hope many members were able to enjoy and learn about Birdability during the Birdability Week in October.  Whether you are simply curious or want to dive deeper into learning more, we hope you click on this link,  The recorded events are eye opening and enjoyable.  One thing we learned is that it is not just about accessibility, but about the verbal and nonverbal language we use with anyone we go bird watching with.    
Volunteer Opportunity – (YES, you can volunteer during COVID 19!)
We need your help to assess local birding locations for Birdability.  This would involve familiarizing yourself with the review criteria, traveling to a location, and answering the provided questions.  This could be done with a friend, committee member, or alone.  If you are interested, contact Joy Rochester at
Reading and Learning Opportunity 
“How To Be A Welcoming and Inclusive Birder”

WHY Equity Diversity and Inclusion?  “Individuals who bring a variety of experiences, perspectives, and skills will help chapters reach and engage more people to provide lasting protection and stewardship of birds and bird habitats.”  From Audubon Chapter Guide to EDI.

Forsyth EDI Committee members are Jennifer Hemric, Hannah Addair, and Joy Rochester, with Kim Brand consulting.  We welcome your thoughts and participation. 
 Celebrating Forsyth Audubon
Plans are underway to mark the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Forsyth Audubon in 2021. Ann Robertson is starting the celebration by interviewing some of our members, so we can get to know each other while we are socially distanced.    

The Legendary Dishers:  Birders for All Seasons . . . . 


. . .  . And in fact, thanks to the tireless diligence of David and Susan, we have the nifty “Birding Guide to Forsyth County, North Carolina” detailing seasonal appearance and abundance, which is periodically updated.  That is only one of their many contributions to birding, local and world-wide, as you will read.


Susan and David didn’t have a spark bird but they had the same “spark person” – Susan’s Uncle Paul Spain, who loved birds and photography.  Mr. Spain was a member of the local bird club when it aligned with the National Audubon Society.  He often took Susan and her brother on birding outings.  Locally, Tanglewood was a favorite destination.  They also visited the NC and SC coast, where Paul had special birding spots to intrigue the youngsters.  Susan began her lifelist in 1972, recording her birds in a Golden Guide that Uncle Paul gave her and her brother.  


The demands of pharmacy school at UNC interrupted birding for several years.  David was a year behind Susan in pharmacy school, but although they knew each other, they didn’t really connect until both found themselves working at Forsyth Hospital.  They married in 1979, and David soon joined Uncle Paul in those birding and photography outings.  David said he was almost instantly hooked on both, and those twin passions have led to a lifetime of learning, developing expertise, and, best of all, sharing all that learning and expertise with us!


David’s first ASFC field trip was to Fort Fisher in 1981, where he met Marbry “Hop” Hopkins.  He,  Susan and Hop have birded together ever since.  For many years, they were the core of the Salem Lake Count Team.  They have also traveled to many birding destinations together, both stateside and abroad.  I asked David and Susan if they have any funny birding stories.  They laughed and said, yes, but they all involve Hop and we’re not telling!  


Over almost 40 years in Forsyth Audubon, David has been the one who took on official roles:  Conservation Chair, Field Trip Coordinator, Newsletter Editor, President, and Count Compiler.  However, in each instance, Susan has been an equal partner – hosting Board meetings, co-editing the newsletters, scouting out and facilitating field trips, etc. – all with her characteristic quiet grace and high competence.


A casual glance at eBird will quickly reveal how the Dishers have contributed to both local and international birding.  They are the top 2 out of 1253 e-birders in Forsyth County; and the #6 & #7 e-birders out of 26,500 in North Carolina.  And, if you google them on e-birds, you will discover beautiful photographs that David and Susan have taken on international trips as well as some in the United States that Cornell is using for demonstrative purposes in their bird profiles.  Check out Susan’s Western Meadowlark, or David’s Red-masked Parakeet, for instance.  The successful marriage of birding and photography is almost as strong with the Dishers as their very solid, happy relationship.  


Though elder care obligations and  pandemic restrictions have reined in travel, as well as many other activities, the Dishers continue to fruitfully bird locally, contributing to the ever-growing database.  I asked if they have any advice for new birders.  They said to “get out there and enjoy it."  David also recommends that if anyone is truly serious about bird identification, it is still best to buy a field guide and study it.  He uses Sibley, but there are many choices.


And now, let’s hear from the Dishers as they responded to questions from the format that Heather Moir created.  I found their answers to be very interesting and educational.  Thank you, David and Susan, for all you have done to help birds and birders; and, in particular, for your decades of devotion to the Audubon Society of Forsyth County.


David Disher’s Answers to Interview Questions:


Favorite Bird: It is hard to say! I like the hummingbirds, warblers, gulls, and shorebirds in North Carolina. In the tropics I like all of the large billed birds like Toucans, Aracaris, and Toucanets. Owls are great! I like birds that have interesting songs. If I had to choose one my favorites may be a gray bird, not unlike our mockingbird, that lives in the Amazon Basin. It is called the Screaming Piha! It is not much to look at but when you hear the call you are amazed!


Favorite Birding Spot: Locally, it would be Tanglewood Park. In our state it would be the Outer Banks.


Do you have a “nemesis bird?”:  No. I have not seen a lot of birds that I am still looking for!


Favorite binoculars?: I have used my Leica 10x40s for a long time. One day it will be time to get a newer pair. Optics have improved a lot over the years!


Tell us about your bird feeders: They are always full. I also have a drip fountain that I made out of a concave rock that draws a lot of birds to our yard.


What do you like to do when you’re not birding?: I like to travel and look forward to doing it again once Covid is under control or there is a vaccine.


How did you first become involved with Forsyth Audubon?: Susan's uncle (Paul Spain) got me interested. He was a member for many years. He would take Susan and her brother birding as children. I loved the outdoors and after Susan and I were married Paul Spain introduced me to birding and photography. I really enjoyed my first Audubon Field Trip to Fort Fisher in 1981 with Paul where I met some other local birders! 

What has been the most rewarding thing about your involvement with Forsyth Audubon?:  We have made a lot of friends through Forsyth Audubon!

Susan Disher's Answers:

Favorite Bird?:  It is difficult to pick one favorite bird, but I love hummingbirds!  One of my favorites would have to be the endangered Royal Sunangel seen near Owlet Lodge in Peru in 2010. Its deep royal blue plumage was spectacular in the bright sunlight!

Favorite birding spot:  My favorite birding spot "close to home" is the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Do you have a "nemesis bird?":  I do not have a specific Nemesis bird currently.  But I was very excited to find my most recent Nemesis bird, the Dusky Grouse.  After several attempts at various places in Colorado and Utah over quite a few years, the spell was finally broken in July, 2019 at Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Colorado.  After admiring a beautiful sunrise over the mountains, David and I found a mama Dusky Grouse with six chicks feeding along the road.  We quietly got out of the car and watched as they walked to within a few feet of us!  Needless to say, the experience made my day!!

How did you become involved with Forsyth Audubon?:  My Uncle, Paul Spain, a longtime Forsyth Audubon member, is responsible for my interest in birding and my involvement with Forsyth Audubon.  

What has been the most rewarding thing about your involvement with Forsyth Audubon?:  The most rewarding thing about my involvement with Forsyth Audubon has been the many friendships made along the way.  Lots of fun times with special friends!!


Order "Birding Guide to Forsyth County"!

The fifth edition of "Birding Guide to Forsyth County," by David Disher, is now available. David's book, in a handy 6 x 9 paperback format, compiles documented observations for 280 bird species in Forsyth County. Learn what birds can be seen here and during which weeks of the year you are most likely to see them. Photos of uncommon sightings are included. Information on local birding spots also is included. For $15, this is a great gift for your favorite birder. All profits go to our chapter. Copies are available at Wright's Backyard Birding Center, 3906 Country Club Rd., Winston-Salem, and at Wild Birds Unlimited, 1589 Skeet Club Rd, High Point.  Copies also are available for sale at our monthly chapter meetings. If you have a smart phone or tablet, download the electronic version available for $4.99 from

In Memoriam

We are saddened to hear of the loss of long-time members Lorraine (Larree) and Frank Thompson.  We will miss seeing Lorraine on bird walks and monitoring the bird activity in Miller Park!
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Forsyth Audubon is pleased that Hannah Addair is managing Forsyth Audubon's Instagram!  We now have a presence on Facebook and Instagram.  Visit us on Social Media!  Tell your friends!  
Forsyth Audubon T-shirts are here!  They are available now at most of our chapter events, or you can pick one up at Wright's Birding Center during business hours.  There are two different styles to choose from, both with our fabulous brown-headed nuthatch logo.  The soft cotton poly blend shirts are $20.00 and the polyester tech tee with the cool dri wicking fabric is $25.00.  

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Forsyth Audubon · P.O. Box 15111 · Winston-Salem, NC 27113 · USA

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