Blue Ridge Discovery Center and the Blue Ridge Birders are excited to announce a partnership to make the Blue Ridge Bird Club a program of BRDC! This partnership brings a renewed focus on avian life to BRDC and ensures that the many activities of the Bird Club will continue into the future. Beyond programming, Blue Ridge Birders provided nearly $5,000 from the James Coman Fund to support regional youth education focused on birds.
BRDC hopes to energize the club by expanding its network and providing year-round opportunities for participation. A variety of field trips, informative lectures, and youth programs will be offered to expand interest in birding. The birders will also act as stewards by participating in citizen science projects like the VA Breeding Bird Atlas, The Hawk Watch Association of North America and Audubon's Christmas Bird Counts. There are no dues for the club, but we encourage participants to become members of Blue Ridge Discovery and participate in the variety of programs we offer.
On February 11, the Blue Ridge Birders will travel to Burke's Garden for an annual field trip in search of wintering Golden Eagles and Rough-legged Hawks. New members are welcome, and anyone with an interest in birding (beginner and experienced birders alike) is invited to join us. Visit the website: blueridgediscoverycenter.org/blue-ridge-birders to learn more about the Blue Ridge Birders, the club list serve, and upcoming events.
Blue Ridge Birders has a rich 20-year history. NC Conservationist of the Year James Coman helped organize Blue Ridge Birders in 1997 to capitalize on what Roger Tory Peterson celebrated when he said, “Birds are the most vibrant expression of the natural world.” His founding goals for the club were “First and foremost, provide enjoyment to the participants; increase the bird skills of the members; provide better communication with the local birding community and with statewide organizations (the Carolina Bird Club and the Virginia Society of Ornithology); and increase the appreciation of the local birdlife with the public through educational outreach.”
Efforts by James and the Blue Ridge Birders led to the establishment of Bullhead State Natural Area, adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the site of a second Hawk Count run by Blue Ridge Birders two miles north of the Mahogany Rock Hawk Count. “Peregrine Pete” Zwadyk helped to keep a spring Bullhead Count along with Jim Keighton and facilitate a late-in-the-season Mahogany Rock Count. In 2003 Harrol Blevins established a Blue Ridge Birders list-serve to facilitate communications about interesting bird sightings in the Blue Ridge/New River region of the club, which now has more than 150 participants, many of whom just want to keep in touch with the region from afar.
Regional birding has been at the heart of Blue Ridge Discovery Center since our founding, and many of the people who shared interest in Blue Ridge Birders inspired BRDC. We would like to dedicate this partnership to the memory of James Coman, William Roberts, Peter Zwadyk and Gale Kuebler.