Carl and Caroline Reach the Peak- The Mountains!

Over the last month, Carl and Caroline have traveled far and wide across North Carolina. This week, they visited the mountains, the final destination for their last adventure spreading the word about the Cardinal Club. They made sure to bundle up with their feather hats and wing mittens- it was cold!

Both Carl and Caroline agreed they were most excited to learn what Audubon NC has been doing to protect their colorful friend and mountain native, the Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA). They met up with Audubon NC conservation biologist Aimee Tomcho at the Nantahala Mountains IBA to find out more.

Carl was very excited to hear what Aimee had to say about the Golden-winged Warbler.

Carl was very excited to hear what Aimee had to say about the Golden-winged Warbler.

The GWWA’s population has declined by 10 percent in some areas of western North Carolina in the last decade. Because they require a unique early successional habitat, their populations have been impacted by human development and forest maturation.

To combat this, Audubon NC engaged forest landowners to put the natural lands to work for the GWWA. Carl and Caroline learned that not only have landowners been agreeing to help, but Audubon NC has united birders internationally through the Golden-winged Warbler Working Group. The GWWA’s future is looking brighter in North Carolina.

While Carl couldn’t visit his GWWA friends because they’ve migrated to Nicaragua for the winter, he did see some other beaked buddies! At the same IBA, he met up with another colorful friend, the Golden-crowned Kinglet, a small bird that likes to be treated royally.

No trip is complete without a stop by Grandfather Mountain, which has the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains! This iconic attraction also happens to be an IBA- so Carl and Caroline knew they had to pay a visit. They learned that these peaks serve as some of the most diverse breeding sites for birds in North Carolina, and that it’s in jeopardy because of air pollution.

Audubon NC works with Grandfather Mountain staff to conduct point counts on species like the Northern Saw-whet Owl and to conduct the Grandfather Mountain Christmas Bird Count. If you participated in the latter and saw cardinals, you may have seen Carl and Caroline!

Throughout their trip they saw other feathered friends that were in town for the winter, like the Red-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee and Brown Creeper.

Carl visited the Cone Manor on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He’d like to have a home like that someday!

Carl visited the Cone Manor on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He’d like to have a home like that someday!

All of these birds can call Important Bird Areas their home because of Audubon NC. These 96 areas have been identified as essential habitats for bird population success, and conservation efforts have been put in place to protect them.

Audubon is conserving these habitats, along with many others, to help birds in North Carolina have a more comfortable and safe home. If you would like to support the cause year-round, join the Cardinal Club! It’s simple. Each month, your chosen donation amount will be deducted from your credit card, and the funds will go directly to elevating the lives of birds in North Carolina!

Carl and Caroline are now on their way back home to in the Piedmont to rest after their trip.

While they’re sad to see their journey end, Carl and Caroline are also very excited to settle down. ‘Like’ a post here to cast your vote for the area you think they should build their forever nest.

Carl and Caroline Take the Piedmont

It’s time for a flight across the piedmont! The wandering twosome has landed to learn about how Audubon NC is helping the birds here. See what happened during this leg of Carl and Carolina’s adventure to spread the word about the Cardinal Club, Audubon’s monthly giving program.

During their second stop, Carl and Caroline decided to stop by some of the natural areas along the North Carolina Birding Trail in the piedmont, among many other exciting places!

Carl’s piedmont adventure begins!

Carl’s piedmont adventure begins!

Their first destination was Harris Lake County Park in Raleigh, home to more than 90 bird species. They got to meet some Ospreys and exchanged nest-building stories. Audubon’s recently released climate study predicts that the Osprey will be threatened by the effects of climate change, as it is expected to lose 70 percent of its breeding range by 2050.

While Harris Lake is not an Important Bird Area, Audubon NC protects the coastal locations preferred by Ospreys, including the Croatan Forest.

They also stopped by Jordan Lake, one of Audubon NC’s nine Important Bird Areas in the piedmont, and a local bird paradise in the midst of growing urban areas like Raleigh and Cary. Due to the threat of encroaching development, New Hope Audubon volunteers have been monitoring bird populations at Jordan Lake with events like the Bald Eagles Census and annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Next, Carl and Caroline met up with Kim Brand, Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Communities Coordinator, in Winston-Salem to learn about a partnership with Toyota TogetherGreen by Audubon, one of the most exciting programs of the year! Brand earned a grant to work with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County to create bird-friendly backyards for local residents in the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood. This past Earth Day, Audubon NC celebrated by planting native plants and installing nest boxes at a newly-constructed Habitat for Humanity house. Carl and Caroline were so impressed they decided to spend the night there instead of a bird hotel.

The Bird-Friendly Communities initiative seeks to create connected habitats where birds can thrive, engaging residents across the piedmont and coastal plain to take small, simple actions like growing native plants and installing nest boxes in their home or community. Carl really appreciates that, but he’s not the only one.

In 2014, Audubon NC had a goal of installing 10,000 Brown-Headed Nuthatch homes across the state. Due to deforestation, our little buddies are losing the cavities in trees they need to make a cozy home. This holiday season, there’s a way to help. For every nuthatch home purchased before the end of the year, Audubon NC will donate a second box to a local chapter to be installed at a school, church or park.

Last year, Carl traveled throughout the state with his best friend Bert, a Brown-Headed Nuthatch. Carl and Caroline decided to go check out some of the nuthatch homes that were put up around the piedmont, and were very impressed! They bought one to be put up in their backyard when they find their forever nest, so all of their Nuthatch friends can visit.

If you want to help Carl and Caroline find the perfect home build a forever nest and raise their chicks, vote here!

If you want to help ALL of North Carolina’s birds to have a place to call home, become a member of the Cardinal Club. Your monthly donation helps support meaningful programs like the ones Carl has been learning about. It’s easy. Every month, your selected amount will be deducted from your credit card and goes straight to help Audubon continue to protect NC’s birds!

Let’s help our birds survive and thrive all year long.

On Their Final Tour of NC – Carl & Caroline Visit the Coast!

Carl and Caroline are still a little sore from all that flying, but they finally reached the North Carolina coast! The first of three destinations around the state, the coast was the perfect place for them to relax and unwind before the rest of their journey. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have an exciting time!

Not only did they tell coastal-dwellers about the Cardinal Club monthly giving program, Carl and Caroline got to see many of the ways Audubon is protecting their fellow feathery friends. Funding from the Cardinal Club supports programs that promote and protect the health of natural areas that are important for birds and wildlife.

Carl and Caroline first visited with Robbie Fearn, the Center Director at the Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Sanctuary in Corolla. The 2,600-acre natural area is home to thousands of waterfowl in the winter. The mating pair learned that this area is one of the last, untouched coastal marshes on the Outer Banks. To protect it, Audubon NC has been working on conservation projects in the region including improving water quality and planning for sea-level rise.

Caroline took this picture of Carl mesmerized by a flock of Grackles at the Audubon Sanctuary in Corolla.

Caroline took this picture of Carl mesmerized by a flock of Grackles at the Audubon Sanctuary in Corolla.

While they were there, Carl and Caroline learned how to fly in a V-formation from some of their waterfowl friends, including Tundra Swans, Canada Geese and Mallards.

No trip to the coast is complete without visiting a lighthouse! They took a tour of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and then flew down to the nearby Outer Banks, Inshore Ocean Important Bird Area (IBA). They met with some volunteers who will be conducting Christmas Bird Counts for birds like the Surf Scoter, Red-throated Loon and Ring-billed Gull that call the Outer Banks home in the winter.

Carl wants you to know that the Masonboro Inlet is in far better condition than its sign!

Carl wants you to know that the Masonboro Inlet is in far better condition than its sign!

Next up on their trip, Carl and Caroline watched a beautiful sunset at the Masonboro Island IBA in New Hanover County. This barrier island is only accessible by boat, so it’s a good thing Carl and Caroline have wings! This is one of the only places their colorful friend the Purple Sandpiper can be found in the winter. These little fellas winter the farthest north of any shorebird, and some of them chose North Carolina!

While they were spreading the word at the coast, Carl and Caroline decided to visit Battery Island bird sanctuary. This natural island is home to the largest wading bird colony in the state during the breeding season, and one of North America’s most significant areas for White Ibises. The island is off-limits to humans, unfortunately, but Carl and Caroline visited for you! They said that they could see Audubon NC has been doing an amazing job protecting it. While most of the birds had migrated for the winter, Carl and Caroline got to see the beautiful home of the Tricolored Herons, American Oystercatchers and Black-crowned Night-Herons without thousands of them blocking the view.

With help from their friends and Audubon NC, Carl and Caroline had an amazing time at the coast. After their trip, however, they are looking for a forever home. They encourage Audubon members to vote for cities they should settle down in NC. To vote, ‘like’ a post on the Audubon NC Facebook Page.

If you would like to make life a little cozier for birds that call NC home, you can join the Cardinal Club. Your monthly gift of a minimum $5 will go directly toward the conservation, protection and sustainability of habitats that NC birds need to thrive.

Carl & Caroline Are Off to Visit Your Hometown

All the entriec and c trying a new home verts are in – now it’s time for you to vote to help Carl and Caroline find their forever home!

As these lovebirds travel across North Carolina spreading the word about Audubon NC’s Cardinal Club monthly giving program, Carl and Caroline need your help nest-hunting. They’re looking for the perfect city to settle down in and raise their babies. Do you think it’s your hometown?

To vote for a city, all you have to do is look through the invitations that were sent in on our Facebook page and ‘like’ a post. Keep in mind that all the invitations for the same city will be tallied together. The city with the most votes will receive plush Carl and Caroline cardinals, bragging rights and the title of being home to Carl and Caroline- the coolest birds around.

While you’re busy helping them nest-hunt, Carl and Caroline will be traveling from the NC coast to the Piedmont and, lastly, to the mountains. You may even spot them during this December’s Christmas bird count, if you’re volunteering! They will be visiting their beaked-buddies in Important Bird Areas, hanging out with avian scientists and spreading the word about the Cardinal Club.

He’s excited to travel around the state, but also to ask people to join him in protecting NC’s birds.

Donations from the Cardinal Club help fund programs like Brown-Headed Nuthatch nest boxes, Audubon NC’s Donal C. O’Brien Jr. Sanctuary on the Outer Banks and bird-friendly communities. These endeavors keep Carl’s state safe and comfy for him, Caroline and their future chicks.

If you would like to help protect Carl’s home, become a cardinal and join the Cardinal Club. It’s a simple donation process that charges your card once a month for a year. You can cancel or change your gift whenever you like.

Even a small monthly gift makes a huge difference for the birds of North Carolina like Carl. Audubon NC supports priceless conservations efforts that are protecting birds all over the state and promoting our understanding of them.

By signing up for the Cardinal Club, you are helping birds all across North Carolina find healthy, safe and comfortable forever nests – just like Caroline and Carl.

Snap and Share – We Want to See Your Bird-Friendly Backyard!

Got a bird-friendly backyard? You know what we mean by bird-friendly. Are you growing native plants like the beautyberry; have you installed a nest box for nuthatches; have you hung a suet feeder that birds flock to when they need to refuel?

We want to see it all!

We want to see your bird-friendly backyards. Send your photos from the spring, summer, fall and winter. Just make sure to tell us where you are and what you have packing in a gorgeous resting spot for birds.

Black-throated Blue Warbler male on beautyberry by Will Stuart.

Black-throated Blue Warbler male on a beautyberry by Will Stuart.

Beginning in January, we’ll feature your photos on the Audubon NC Facebook page where your photo will be showcased for Audubon’s growing group of bird lovers to enjoy. Sharing the story of your bird-friendly backyard will inspire others to join in the fun and help birds thrive across North Carolina.

Whether migrating through or year-round residents, building a bird-friendly backyard gives birds in NC the boost they need to survive and thrive. Putting up a nest box where cavity-nesting birds can make a home to planting native (non-invasive) plants that provide berries and insects to feed growing baby birds; there are so many great ways to make a difference for the birds in your backyard.

Goldfinch by Donald Mullaney.

Goldfinch by Donald Mullaney.

Get your bird-friendly glory with the Audubon NC team and start snapping and sharing today. We know birds love your yard, now it’s time to show it off for everyone to enjoy.

Launched in 2013, Audubon North Carolina’s Bird-Friendly Communities initiative is a partnership program involving more than 20 organizations with a vision for creating a more bird-friendly North Carolina. This vision statement guides the goals and projects of the group: “Bird-friendly communities give birds the opportunity to succeed by providing connected habitat dominated by native plants, minimizing threats posed by the built environment, and engaging people of all ages and backgrounds in stewardship of nature.”