Nature Notes - January 2015
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Northern Cardinal – Dennis Burnette
Hanging a bird box at Irving Park School; photo by Dennis Burnette
Irving Park Elementary Hosts Homes for Birds
By Stella Wear
Irving Park Elementary School students will help Audubon NC efforts this winter and spring to make our community a bird-friendly one. 

A team composed of members of Irving Park Garden Club and TGPAS met December 18 to install three Brown-headed Nuthatch and two Bluebird houses at the school campus. 

We were joined by school parent Dana Davis and her daughter Emma who consulted on the best places for the houses.  Each house is visible from classroom windows and placed near the outdoor classroom and raised garden beds.  The students will monitor the boxes during the spring nesting period.

Representing the Irving Park Garden Club at the installation was Gloria Phillips.  The TGPAS installation team members were Dennis Burnette, Jack Jezorek, Ann Walter-Fromson, Stella Wear, and Tom Wear.
Kelley King (top photo), superintendent of Haw River
State Park, led the Audubon walk; photos by Tom Wear

A December Walk at the Haw River State Park
By Jack Jezorek
Fifteen intrepid Pearson Audubon members “braved” 60 degree temperatures for a most delightful excursion around the Haw River State Park on Dec. 14. Our group was enthusiastically led by the park superintendent, Kelley King, who clearly loves her park.
Kelley took us from the Summit Environmental Education Center down the hill to the boardwalk at the river itself. Just a large stream in this head-water area, the river was high and clear and the flood plain was, well, flooded, thanks to the great amount of beaver activity in the adjacent area. We heard a Pileated Woodpecker but saw few birds on this late afternoon. However, in this section of the park we saw three wild orchids, Crane Fly, Putty Root, and Rattlesnake Plantain, and also several patches of Running Cedar and Christmas Fern.
Kelley then led us on one of the new trails through the woods up to the so-called plantation area of the park, the section that was to have become a subdivision – the Haw River Plantation – but fortunately was purchased for the park when the developer could not make a go of it. In some of the red-clay patches along the way we saw deer and fox prints. And we noted that the meadow area here is a perfect candidate for conversion to a piedmont prairie. Another TGPAS project?
We then headed back to the Summit via a literal maze of trails that are used for environmental education for elementary grade students who come to the park during the school year. Kelley explained the various educational games and learning experiences that the park uses in its “Summit Environmental Education” program. Very impressive!
Kelley expects that the “farm” area of the park on the west side should be open for day use this coming year and has already offered to lead us on a walk on the new trails there. So we shall surely incorporate that into our 2015-2016 schedule. Haw River State Park is a beautiful place to walk and enjoy the beauties of nature at any season, and we are lucky to have such a place so close to home.
Got the fever – no we mean spring fever
Come join us at the February program just in time to get spring fever with our new giveaway.  We will be giving away 15 Audubon garden totes with seeds from some beautiful native flowering plants.  So while it is snowing, you can be dreaming of your yard full of birds and butterflies this spring and summer visiting your flowers.  Mark your calendar for February 12 for the Audubon monthly program, and watch for more information next month.

Jan. 4 (Sun) Beginner’s Bird Walk at the KCEF Library starting at 1:30 PM, joint program with PBC

Jan. 8 (Thur) Program: “It takes a Village: Communal Nesting and Cooperative Breeding in Birds” Speaker: Lynn Moseley, Professor of Biology Emeritus, Guilford College  

Jan. 10, 2015 (Sat) Field Trip: White Street Landfill with PBC – Morning walk. See article at right for details.

Jan. 11 (Sun) Second Sunday Nature Walk: Lake Townsend – Waterfowl

Feb. 10 (Tue) Special Presentation on Great Backyard Bird Count, 7-8:30 p.m., Community Room, KCE Family Branch Library. See article at right for details.

Feb. 14 (Sat) Birding Practice: Great Backyard Bird Count, 9-11 a.m., Price Park. See article at right for details.
TGPAS Board Email Addresses
(click name to send email)
Dennis Burnette
Sue Cole
Judy Hoag
Jack Jezorek
Lynn Moseley
Gregg Morris
Marie Poteat
Courtney Vass
Stella Wear

Tom Wear

Click here for our website
Click here for National Audubon website
It Takes a Village: Communal Nesting & Cooperative Breeding
What: January Program
Who: Speaker, Lynn Moseley, Professor of Biology Emeritus, Guilford College
When: Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015; 7 p.m.
Where: Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Library

For most birds, mating systems consist of one male and one female on an exclusive territory defended from all others of their species.  However, for some species, entirely different patterns occur.

Come to our Jan. 8 program to hear Lynn Moseley describe communal breeding, where several females lay eggs in the same nest, and cooperative breeding, where only one female in a group lays eggs but “helpers” contribute to raising her chicks.  These mating systems challenge standard evolutionary theory, so understanding why and how they occur is fascinating to explore.

Before the program, which starts at 7 p.m., join us for light refreshments and a chance to mingle with your Audubon friends.
Above: Groove-billed Ani,
photo by
At left;  Maasai Ostrich,
photo by Lynn Moseley
Northern Mockingbird; photo by Dennis Burnette
Easy Walk Can Help You Learn About Local Birds

When: Jan. 4, Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
What: Field Trip: Beginning Birder Walk
Where: Location: Price Park, KCE Family Branch Library, 1420 Price Park Road, Greensboro
Start off the new year right with a fun, laid back bird walk especially for beginners! More experienced folks will enjoy this one, too.
It’s fun watching birds, hearing their pretty songs, maybe even trying to figure out what their behaviors mean. We’re tempted to go on the field trips that we read about in the newsletter to learn more about them, but it can be a bit intimidating thinking about going out with all those “experts.”
There’s no need to hold back on this easy bird walk on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 4, at 1:30 p.m. This one is especially for people, young and not so young, who still think of themselves as beginning birders. The knowledgeable birders in our group started at the beginning, and we will, too.
This is the second of four seasonal beginner bird walks that we’re holding this year. The emphasis of these walks will be on learning to identify birds using clues such as size, shape, markings, habitat, and behavior, and we’ll have fun doing it in a relaxed, no pressure setting. We’ll make mistakes, but it won’t matter. We’ve called it a walk, but there won’t be much walking involved, actually. We’ll be in Price Park outside and around the KCEF Branch Library. We’ll walk slowly and practice building our identification skills by watching common birds.
We won’t even need binoculars! Birds can be identified without binoculars or field guides. However, we’ll talk about how to use these tools, so bring them if you like. And we’ll try to answer all the questions participants have. We expect to have some of our experienced birders on hand to help.
This is for people of all ages and abilities. As always, supervised older children are welcome, but no pets, please. This will be a joint activity with our friends in the Piedmont Bird Club.
Contact the leader, Dennis Burnette, at if you have questions.

Birding Practice on Feb. 14

Here’s an opportunity to practice what we learn on the Beginner’s Bird Walk: TGPAS member Ann Walter-Fromson will lead a group to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count on Saturday, February 14, at Price Park. We will  start at 9:30 a.m. and go until around 11:00 a.m. This will be a perfect opportunity for beginning birders to team with more experienced folks for both learning and fun. The plan is for small groups to work together to tally birds and then create one bird list that will be submitted to the GBBC website for the group.

For those who would like to learn more about the GBBC and how to identify birds before the actual count, Ann will do a presentation on Tuesday, Feb. 10 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the KCE Family Branch Library in Price Park. Ann plans to focus on how to do the count, and how to use the Merlin phone app for identifying birds. The group will practice inside with photos of birds put up around the room. You can participate in the GBBC on the following Saturday without attending this presentation, of course, but both will be fun!

At the landfill, photo by Dennis Burnette
Field Trip

Down in the Dump, Jan. 10

Okay, so it’s officially the White Street Landfill in east Greensboro. Seeing that site show up in Nature Notes still could be confusing, though, unless you’ve birded around Guilford County for a while. Birding in a dump? Yes, indeed!
TGPAS will join Piedmont Bird Club on our annual winter excursion to what possibly is our most unusual birding destination because it’s an excellent site to find an unusually large selection of winter bird species. Because of varying habitats, we are likely to see many species of sparrows, several raptors, and lots of other interesting birds, even including ducks in the entrance pond.
The trip leader, Carolyn Allen, one of the founders of TGPAS, makes special arrangements each year for our group to enter this City of Greensboro facility. We will need to carpool because of limited parking and to reduce the number of vehicles in this active landfill to stay out of the way of large trucks.

Consequently, the group will meet first at Congregational United Church of Christ, 400 Radiance Dr., in Greensboro. Be there a bit early so that we can make riding arrangements in time to depart at 8:30 a.m. We expect to be back at the church parking lot by around noon.
It’s important to dress warmly. The wind off the grassy fields and the pond can get very uncomfortable. Wear sturdy footwear. There won’t be a lot of walking because we will drive between good birding spots. However, the ground is likely to be muddy (or frozen) and rough around the parking areas. Often birds are further away than we might like so you will find binoculars and even a scope helpful. You should bring water and possibly a snack since we won’t be near facilities.
The leader would like to get a count of how many will be participating. Please contact her at 288-3045 or at to let her know you’re coming. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and check with her to make sure of the status of the trip if there are weather concerns.
Hooded Mergansers, photo by Dennis Burnette

Second Sunday Nature Walk, Jan.11

Lake Townsend Waterfowl

Winter is the best time in Guilford County to see waterfowl, and our largest reservoir, Lake Townsend, is one of the best places to find these birds. Join us for our monthly Second Sunday Nature Walk on Jan. 11.
As usual for our Second Sunday Nature Walks, folks will gather for carpooling in Friendly Shopping Center in the Whole Foods Market parking lot between the BB&T building and Chick-fil-A at 1:45. Because of limited parking at most of the lake overlooks, we will need to carpool so that we use as few vehicles as possible. We plan to leave at 2:00 p.m., so please be on time. We should be back by about 5:00.
We will begin our birding on the Yanceyville Street causeway across Lake Townsend where we will can scan the lake in both directions. We will check other lake overlooks nearby. If we have time, we’ll also go to two overlooks on Church Street.

This will be an easy nature outing that will be perfect for beginners, including older children with an adult. There will be almost no walking as we plan to drive to the overlooks, get out and scan the lake, then move on to the next location. Be sure to wear very warm clothes because the wind off the lake can be quite cold. The waterfowl usually are quite far out, so if you have binoculars and/or a scope, bring them. If you don’t have either, come anyway because you can use the equipment that others bring.
Weather can be changeable this time of year. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. We will go unless it is actually raining or icy, but if you want to make a last-minute check on the status of the trip, call Dennis Burnette by 1:00 at 299-4342.
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