Learn about Lights Out Winston-Salem
Audubon Important Bird Areas
The Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA) program helps Audubon, its partners and landowners identify and protect natural areas and landscapes that are critical to maintaining bird populations, diversity and habitat. In North Carolina, 96 IBAs comprise some 4 million acres from the mountains to the coast.
Local chapters can adopt individual IBAs and can receive collaborative funding from Audubon to support citizen science, conservation or educational activities at these locations. ASFC was the first chapter in the state to participate in this program, adopting Hanging Rock State Park and New River Corridor, which is in Ashe County.
Forsyth Audubon is working closely with city of Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation in the stream restoration and renovation project. We are advising on habitat preservation, bird life, native plants, removal of invasive plants.
Hanging Rock State Park
Hanging Rock is included in the adoption program, even though IBA status remains pending. Nesting of Peregrine Falcons in the park in past years made it an area of interest. Common Ravens also nest on the cliffs. In addition, passerine species such as Worm-eating and Black-throated Green Warbler breed in the park, even though they do not do so at the lower elevations here in Forsyth County.
ASFC conducts Christmas and Spring Bird Counts for the area in and around the park. It also conducts campfire programs and bird walks for park visitors, and has supported the park with purchases of binoculars and field guides for children, reference materials relating to the falcons, museum display items and signage promoting the park as a stop on the North Carolina Birding Trail. On May 7, 2014, 14 chapter members conducted a spring count at the park, finding 74 species, including a new species for the park - Orchard Oriole.
New River Corridor
The New River Corridor IBA includes New River State Park and nearby habitat along the North and South Forks of the New River in Ashe and Allegheny Counties. The area is known as critical breeding habitat for such species as Golden-winged Warbler and Warbling Vireo.
For several spring seasons, ASFC volunteers have worked with NC Audubon's IBA Coordinator Curtis Smalling to conduct point count surveys along the New River at the state park's river-only Allegheny Access campground and elsewhere. On May 15, 2010, we conducted our annual point count surveys and presented a program about area birds to park visitors. In late May 2011, Ron Morris and Kim Brand conducted a Golden-winged Warbler breeding bird survey along the New River. Chapter members also take part in Christmas Bird Counts for the area. With collaborative funds, the Chapter also has purchased gps equipment, materials for kestrel boxes and signage that promotes the IBA and Birding Trail status of the park.
NC Audubon and Conservation
Audubon North Carolina has been at the forefront of several habitat preservation areas in recent years. In addition to one of the most active IBA programs in the country, it has been working hard to protect vital habitat in the coastal regions of the state.
The North Carolina Islands Coastal Islands sanctuary system now protects 19 islands that support nesting shorebird species such as Brown Pelican, White Ibis, American Oystercatcher, Least Tern and Black Skimmers is one such initiative. ASFC and other state chapters contribute a share of their Spring Birdathon proceeds to support this program.
Beach Nesters. On June 23, 2011, Audubon North Carolina launched a pilot project to solitic beachgoers for pledges to "share the beach" with these nesting birds by not walking into nesting areas at Wrightsville Beach. Read and watch a video about Audubon North Carolina's Beach Steward program.
Beach-driving. The National Park Service has issued final regulations that place limit on ORV beach driving. However, the regulations already are the subject of a lawsuit and proposed legislation filed by Rep. Jones and by Sens. Burr and Hagan to overturn them. Much misinformation has been circulated by opponents concerning the impact on the local Outer Banks economy. See Audubon North Carolina's information about Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and take the time to write your legislative representatives about this important bird habitat conservation issue. Hatteras last summer had record numbers of sea turtle nests and 15 surviving Piping Plover chicks, while enjoying increased tourist business.The truth is that tourist expenditures increased in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and that only a small percentage of beach users also are ORV users.
Bonner Bridge. Replacement of the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet also raises issues regarding the protection of nesting and migratory waterfowl near the inlet and at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. NC Audubon has supported a so-called long bridge option that would eliminate reliance on NC 12 through the Refuge area. While more expensive than other options in the short term, it likely would be less costly long term compared to continued efforts to maintain a road that highly vulnerable to flooding and shifting sands. Unfortunately, authorities now seem intent on pursuing one of the short-bridge alternatives.
Navy Landing Field. "No OLF" was the cry of many residents as the U.S. Navy sought to build an outlying landing field for pilot training next to Pocosin Lakes National Widlife Refuge. NC Audubon and other groups joined the fight out of concern, not only for the thousands of wintering geese and swans at the Refuge, but also the danger those birds posed to the pilots.The proposed site has been blocked, but monitoring of alternative proposals continues.
Hot National Issues
Here are some of the habitat and environmental issues that currently are high on the agenda of the National Audubon Society.
Keystone Pipeline. The proposed Keystone Pipeline would transport "dirty" oil from Canada's tar sands some 1700 miles to Texas refineries through Midwest farm and ranch lands, across streams and rivers, and through the Ogallala acquifer, which provides clean drinking water for two million people. One spill could be catastrophic for people and for birds, and the recent Yellowstone River incident shows that these spills can, and will, happen. A State Department report recommends that the agency and the President approve the pipeline.
Gulf Restoration. The RESTORE Act would direct that 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties collected from BP for the Gulf Coast oil spill go to the five states damaged by that spill. A bipartisan bill in the House closely parallels similar legislation moving through the Senate.
Arctic Drilling. Read about the importance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to birds and other wildlife and the potential impacts that drilling there would have at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
State of the Birds
Private landowners play a critical role in the conservation of bird habitat, the 2013 State of the Birds Report concludes. About 60 percent and 1.43 billion acres of United States land is privately owned, and private property is used by nearly all of our interior and coastal bird species. These species include 251 that are identified as endangered, threatened or species of concern. The 2014 report, authored by the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, echoes the warning of the National Audubon Society's report on "Birds and Climate Change" that many of our birds species are in distress. Read the report.
Other recent annual State of the Birds of Reports have covered birds on public lands and waters, the impact of climate change on birds, and declining species.
Contact Your Congressperson
Whether it is Cape Hatteras, OLF or other state or national environmental issues, your opinions should count. Share them with your elected officials, including your U.S. representatives and senators. Click here for contact information. Phone calls and emails tend to be more effective than letters because of screening delays.