Audubon North Carolina has 10 amazing chapters across the state who help put a local focus on bird preservation and conservation issues. In this special blog series, we’ll focus on a chapter each month to learn more about their history, what they are working on, and to increase the statewide understanding of special ecosystems and habitats. Each month will include a series of posts about each chapter including a post from our biologists that will share a unique research project that is happening in the chapter’s geographic footprint.
This month, we get to know the T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society. Read on to learn more about our chapter serving Guilford County.
By Jack Jezorek
“Our mission is to foster appreciation, knowledge and enjoyment of birds and nature and to preserve our natural heritage at the local and global level”.
The Pearson chapter was founded in 1971 by several Greensboro residents including a few faculty members at UNC Greensboro. You can say we followed in the footsteps of the Audubon Society of North Carolina, which was formed by Thomas Gilbert Pearson in 1902, on the same campus! It was only natural that the new chapter would be named for him.
Pearson went on to help form the National Audubon Society, becoming its second president, a position he held for 20 years. He was responsible for many of the early bird protection laws passed in North Carolina and nationally, including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The chapter was then, and is now, dedicated to furthering Pearson’s bird and habitat preservation efforts.
Legacy of Conservation:
Pearson Audubon, from its inception, has organized monthly programs and field trips for our members, and over the years, have also mounted several projects where habitat protection or conservation was the main goal.
- In the 1970s we partnered with other groups to oppose a large sewer project that would have opened all of northern Guilford County to intense development. Our efforts forced the project to scale back and allowed development to occur at a more measured pace.
- In the mid-1970s we saw an opportunity to help preserve about 11 acres of urban habitat owned by the Moses Cone Memorial Hospital. The T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Natural Area was created after the chapter worked with the city to produce an agreement to manage it as a nature preserve.
- 1990 marked the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Day, and we were one of three local groups that organized The Celebration of the Earth. For our role in that event we received the Best Single Project Award from Greensboro Beautiful.
Soon after the Celebration of the Earth event, our chapter began a 10-year effort for the City of Greensboro to cease mowing creek banks on city-owned parkland allowing the banks to grow up naturally. Partnering with the Westerwood neighborhood, a pilot project was established in Lake Daniel Park along the N. Buffalo Creek Greenway to plant hundreds of native trees and shrubs.
The chapter also conducted an inventory of flora and fauna, including birds, along the newly buffered N. Buffalo Creek that showed a marked increase in numbers as a result of the shade and cover the buffer provided. The maturing buffer along N. Buffalo Creek was found to have attracted many Bluebirds, and so in the late 1990s, the chapter installed a Bluebird Trail along the edge of the stream buffer that has been monitored by chapter members along with many neighbors from the Westerwood community to this day!
This StreamGreen/StreamLife project has resulted in its stream buffer practices being adopted by the City of Greensboro, applied to streams on all public lands in the city. The Pearson chapter received the Earth Defender Award from the National Audubon Society in 1994 for its StreamGreen project, articles which appeared in Audubon magazine and other national publications.
Currently, we are proud to be a partner in the Audubon North Carolina Bird Friendly Communities program. We are providing nest boxes for Brown-headed Nuthatches and mounting efforts to educate the local community about using native plants in their yards.
Best Birding Spots:
The Pearson chapter oversaw the construction of the Audubon Wildlife Overlook at Southwest Park in Guilford County, and the installation of more than a dozen interpretive wildlife signs at the overlook. The overlook is a good place to look for soaring raptors, nuthatches attracted to the pine woods nearby, and Great Blue Herons and Kingfishers associated with Randleman Reservoir, which is just a stones throw from the overlook deck.
Our chapter’s area covers a section of the piedmont of North Carolina, so upland birds are most commonly seen here. Several reservoirs in Guilford County even attract their share of wintering waterfowl. The Bog Garden, a Greensboro park, is on the NC Birding Trail, as are the nearby Haw River State Park and the Caswell Game Lands, our chapter’s adopted IBA.
Join this chapter:
Pearson Audubon members enjoy all these great birding places. We are working hard to help save the habitat our birds need to survive and to educate the public about what they can do for our birds as well. Check us out on our web site: www.tgpearsonaudubon.org.
Our chapter currently has 250 members from the greater Greensboro area, High Point and throughout Guilford County. For more information or to join the Pearson chapter, see our membership page or visit the chapter on Facebook.