Our February Chapter Meeting will feature a presentation by Dr. David Anderson of Wake Forest. Dr. Anderson is a professor of Biology who studies the evolutionary and behavioral ecology of birds. His current projects deal with variation in personality, organizational effects on behavior, senescence, juvenile survival, quantitative genetics of life history traits, and foraging ecology of Nazca boobies, and conservation biology of blue-footed boobies. What could be better than spending a February evening on a virtual trip to the Galapagos Islands to learn about these fascinating birds and their habits?
Tuesday, February 23rd at 7:00 PM via Zoom. Look for an email announcement with a Zoom link invitation.
Under the leadership of Joy Rochester, our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee is growing, and has been hard at work. Joy offers the following updates of the committee's activities.
Our Forsyth EDI committee is joining several other NC chapters for a series of racial equity training classes in early 2021. We are also exploring ways to join and learn together with WSSU students. Accessed trails have been added to the Birdability map. Thank you to our additional volunteers, Catherine Wandell and Bernie Carr. If you have ideas of local BIPOC organizations that we could reach out to in order to build relationships and share in our love of conservation and birds, email email@example.com.
Speaking of Birdability, it became a registered non-profit in January. Their mission: Birdability focuses on removing barriers to access for birders with mobility challenges, blindness or low vision, intellectual or developmental disabilities (including autism), mental illness, being Deaf or Hard of Hearing or other health concerns. If you are curious, the website ishttps://www.birdability.org. They are also on numerous social media and have a monthly newsletter. Check out their infectiously passionate coordinator, Freya McGregor. You may meet her in the future.
In this current world of webinars and recordings, we would like to highlight three diversity and inclusion related opportunities for you.
EDI Webinar : The third installment of Audubon's Chapter Equity, Diversity and Inclusion How-to-Guide webinars focus is recruitment. It will discuss how to bring on, and retain, staff, board, and volunteers from all backgrounds The final webinar will occur on Tuesday, February 23rd at 7pm EST/4pm PST and you may register for that webinar here. We invite you to email members of our EDI committee with your thoughts following the webinar. Also contact us if you would like to view past webinars.
Virtual Birdability Field Trips: Georgia Audubon has partnered with Birdability to host monthly virtual field trips highlighting accessible trails, birders who experience accessibility challenges, and birds from around the country. You can find recordings on Georgia Audubon’s YouTube space.
EXCITING NEWS - COMING SOON! FORSYTH AUDUBON BOOK CLUB
The club is in the planning stages. It will include books ecologically and environmentally themed. Contact Jennifer Hemric,firstname.lastname@example.org with book suggestions and questions.
Forsyth EDI Committee members are Jennifer Hemric, Hannah Addair, Louise Allen, and Joy Rochester, with Kim Brand consulting. We welcome your thoughts and participation.
Forsyth Audubon Connects With the Community
Audubon Society of Forsyth County is developing an exciting partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Dellabrook Neighborhood Association, NCA&T, and NC State to create Bird Friendly Communities in Winston Salem through Native Plant landscaping. We are led by the community residents desire to have a more beautiful, beneficial, and sustainable green neighborhood. A well designed, robust, natural landscape improves the physical and mental health of the residents, enhances safety, fosters community spirit and pride, and provides critical habitat for birds and other wildlife. This project addresses environmental inequities inherent in our City, inequities that have a deleterious effect on a significant proportion of our citizens. It also answers the call from Douglas Tallamy to “Bring Nature Home”, to create space in our neighborhoods for all the life that sustains us.
Faculty and students from Architecture, Sustainability, Landscape Design and Architecture, Horticulture and Health will join Audubon, Habitat for Humanity, and neighborhood residents in a comprehensive community wide design and implementation project extending over several years and affecting hundreds of households.
Please contact Max Nottke, Conservation Chair or Don Lendle, President for more details or questions.
Coming to a Feeder Near You!
It's time to take attendance at your feeders! It's time once again for the Great Backyard Birdcount! This is a great way to contribute to Citizen Science. Learn more about how to get started at birdcount.org. The Great Backyard Birdcount is from Friday, February 12th through Monday, February 15th. You can count for as little as 15 minutes on one of those days, or you can count as long as you like on all of those days! This year will mark the 24th annual GBBC. Your checklist will help researchers at the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology learn more about how the birds are doing and how to protect the environment we share. And...it's a lot of fun! Be sure to connect with Forsyth Audubon on Instagram or Facebook and let us know what you are seeing in your Great Backyard!
Celebrating 50 Years of Forsyth Audubon!
As part of our 50th Anniversary Celebration, Ann Robertson continues her series of interviews with members of our organization, so that we can get to know each other while we are socially distanced.
Jim and Mary Allen Martin Have Enjoyed Birding Adventures Since the 80s.
SONG ON THE MOUNTAIN
Or, How a Common Yellowthroat’s Serendipitous Call Contributed to the Formation of North Carolina Audubon!
Jim Martin can very specifically pinpoint the fortuitous event that opened up the world of birds to him:
My “spark bird” moment for birding was in about 1985 on a backpacking/work trip to Roan Mountain. One of the participants was Travis Knowles....a biology graduate from Wake Forest and a student of Dr. Peter Weigel over there. During a rest break, Travis heard a bird sing and just commented....”common yellowthroat”. I was stunned. It never occurred to me that birdsong was decipherable! I spent the rest of the weekend asking him about each tweet and warble. Then I bought the Peterson cassette tapes and began listening and studying.
From listening to tapes, Jim and wife Mary Allen progressed to birdwatching classes at Miller Park Recreation Center. These were taught by another local birding legend and colorful character, Lloyd Ramsey, and were endorsed by the Chapter. Lloyd invited participants to attend ASFC meetings, which Jim and Mary Allen did. The group was at the Nature Science Center (now SciWorks) by then, and Ramona Snavely was at the height of her considerable powers. The Allens also met many other birders, including Royce Hough. He and Jim formed a close relationship. You may recall that Royce is also a keen birder by ear, and he and Jim had finance in common as a profession, among many other things.
Jim reminisced about an early outing at Salem Lake where Doug Deneve, another outstanding birder and active ASFC member of the time, set up a spotting scope and said, “Here’s a Surf Scoter!” Jim said he didn’t know that was a bird, or how anyone could make out that dot in the scope. He was flabbergasted, and intrigued. As he commented, “When you’re first learning, every new bird is such a gift.” He and Mary Allen went on field trips and continued to enjoy learning more and more about birds, though Jim became the more invested of the two. He in time became the Field Trip Coordinator, and then ASFC President. (More on that later!)
I asked Jim for a funny story. He told me that Lloyd had tipped him to a Woodcock that was displaying in Washington Park. Jim was up very early one day in February and decided to look for the elusive bird. It was still dark, and he was dressed in a baseball cap and jeans jacket. As he approached a back gate to the park, a Winston-Salem police cruiser pulled up.
The officer said, “May I help you, sir?”
Jim replied, “No, I’m looking for Woodcocks.”
Officer: “And do you think you’ll find them here?”
Jim, wondering if he was going to have to call ASFC member and Police Chief Linda Davis to bail him out said, “I think so.”
To Jim’s relief, the officer then drove off, shaking his head.
Unfortunately, though, after all that, no Woodcock showed itself.
As these stories illustrate, there’s a synergy between birding and birders. In answer to the question, what has been the best thing about belonging to Forsyth Audubon, Jim responded:
Definitely getting to know the people. The birding community is made up of such interesting folks—most of whom I would not have known otherwise. Most birders are smart, curious and kind. And almost all are quite willing to share their knowledge and help beginning birders.
One experience is illustrative of this personal interaction. I got to know a young Hungarian doctor through birding. Ferenc Domoki was working on an exchange trip to Winston-salem through Wake Forest medical school back in the nineties. Ferenc would go out to bird every day before work. I bumped into him in Reynolda gardens one day and we began to bird together. He was a great bird finder and helped me immensely.
Ferenc got to know many of the Forsyth Audubon members and in 2011, seven of us flew to Szeged, Hungary and went on a 7-day birding trip around the country with Ferenc as our guide. That time together created lasting relationships among all of us which became very special.
Jim & Mary Allen Martin, Susan Jones, Tara O’Leary, Warren Jones, Mary & Phil Dickinson, and Ferenc Domoki in Szeged, Hungary, 2011.
No article about Jim Martin would be complete without discussing his leadership abilities, which have been recognized throughout our community. He has served on many Boards for Universities and non-profits in Winston-Salem. Jim was Chapter President when Chester and I joined Audubon in fall 1998. Fortunately for us, he asked us to join the Board the following year. Meetings were at his home and he always had an Agenda typed up, though he mentioned that Royce teasingly told him, “that is not necessary”.
Jim’s classy, organized, effective, and enthusiastic leadership qualities did not go unnoticed by National Audubon. In the late 90s, he was invited to join a Strategic Planning Committee made up of leaders from Audubon chapters across North Carolina and National Aududon. They met at the Brown Summit Conference Center and put together a plan for the North Carolina Audubon Office. Jim was elected Board Chair, and served in that capacity for several years as the fledgling office developed. The first executive director served only a year. Jim encouraged the development officer, Chris Canfield, to apply for the position. Chris was hired, and did a marvelous job of leading the new organization. As many of you know, Walker Golder, guardian of the Coastal sanctuaries, had been the only National Audubon presence in North Carolina before NC Audubon was established. There are now many Audubon staffers – including our own Kim Brand! - working on educational and conservation efforts, which were goals behind the creation of NC Audubon. Since Jim’s tenure, there has been a steady stream of ASFC members on the NC Audubon Board. As you likely know, ASFC members Ron Morris and Bill Gifford currently serve, and Bill is the Chair.
And now you know how a Common Yellowthroat’s song contributed to the formation of NC Audubon!
Jim’s words of advice for new birders are to enjoy and learn from the interesting people; get involved; and take on responsibility if asked. It is all worth it.
As to his nemesis bird: It’s the Saw Whet Owl, which Jim thinks may be a myth perpetrated by the National Audubon Society.🦉
Thank you, Jim, for your outstanding contributions to our community and to the Audubon Society on all levels. And thanks to Mary Allen for her participation and support all along this amazing journey.
Audubon Advocacy Day 2021
Members of Forsyth Audubon are busy preparing for Advocacy Day 2021, which will take place on Wednesday, February 10th. They will be meeting virtually with state lawmakers, and advocating for clean energy and conservation in North Carolina. If you would like to participate, contact Jennifer Hemric for information.
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 www.lulu.com.
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.