The History and Mission of T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society

“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, has 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.
Work Day at TGPAS Natural Area
Work Day at TGPAS Natural Area

Community Partnerships:
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.

Macroinvertebrates: “Canaries” of our Creeks and Streams

Photo courtesy of
Macroinvertebrates photo courtesy of

Who: Guest Speaker Elaine Chiosso, Haw Riverkeeper
What: T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society Program
When: October 9 at 6:45 PM
Where: KCE Family Branch Library

What are macroinvertebrates? Macro means large and invertebrate is an animal with no backbone. So macroinvertebrates are animals without a backbone that are large enough to be seen without the use of a microscope.

Macroinvertebrates have long been used as indicators to assess water quality. Benthic macroinvertebrates (bottom-dwelling organisms including aquatic insects, crayfish, clams, snails, and worms) are often used in studies to determine the quality of waters because of their high numbers, known pollution tolerances, limited mobility, wide range of feeding habits, varied life spans, and dependence on the land environment around the stream.

So why focus on the Haw River? Flowing 110 miles from its headwaters in the north-central Piedmont region of North Carolina, the Haw joins the Cape Fear River in southern Chatham County. There are almost one million people living in this fast-developing 1700-square-mile watershed, which includes Greensboro, Burlington, Chapel Hill, and part of Durham, as well as smaller towns and rural areas. A growing population has meant more stormwater runoff and wastewater effluent. Sediment is the number one problem in our waters, closely followed by nutrient pollution resulting in excessive algae growth. The river provides critical habitat for numerous plants and animals including threatened and endangered species of fish, mollusks, and wildflowers.  It is one of only three remaining habitats left for the federally-listed endangered fish, the Cape Fear Shiner.

Photo of Elaine Chiosso courtesy of the Abundance Fdn.
Photo of Elaine Chiosso, Haw Riverkeeper, courtesy of the Abundance Foundation.

Our featured speaker will be Elaine Chiosso. Elaine is the Haw River Assembly’s Haw Riverkeeper and Executive Director. Their mission is to promote environmental education, conservation and pollution prevention; to speak as a voice for the river in the public arena; and to put into peoples’ hands the tools and the knowledge they need to be effective guardians of the river. Elaine will discuss the current projects the Haw River Assembly is working on such as fracking, why the Haw River is listed on the 2014 list of “America’s Most Endangered Rivers” list and how you can become a river watcher.

This is a program you won’t want to miss! Our Second Sunday Nature Walk this month will put our newly-acquired macroinvertebrate expertise into practice.

Join us at 6:45 PM in the Community Room at Kathleen Clay Edwards Library on October 9th. We’ll have a few minutes to meet the speaker and socialize, then the program will start at 7 PM. This event is free.   — Courtenay Vass, TGPAS Conservation Education Chair




Please Support “Bike for Birds”

bike for birds largeFrom the time I purchased my bike in 2011 until today, every ride has been accompanied by birds and bird song.  The birds prompted me to begin Bike for Birds.  I am contacting you on their behalf.

This year, our seven-member “Team Bike for Birds” listed below is biking across North Carolina to support the important work of Audubon NC.  With the 2014 Bike for Birds ride just a few days away, we are asking you to make our effort even more worthwhile by contributing to Audubon North Carolina, whose work to conserve and restore habitats for all wildlife while focusing on the needs of birds is more important than ever.

Last week, National Audubon Society made headline news releasing the “Birds and Climate Change Report” based on 30 years of citizen science bird observations and climate data.  It projects that 314 of the 588 North American bird species studied are in danger of significant decline or extinction by 2080.  I have to wonder if future generations will be able to ride their bikes and enjoy bird songs as I have done.  This year I have either seen or heard 51 bird species on training rides – many of them are on this climate-threatened list.

Bike for Birds is my chance to help the birds living across the state who have enriched my life by raising money for Audubon NC in their work to protect birds and their habitats.  I hope you will join me by making a contribution to Audubon NC using the link below or sending a check to:  Audubon NC, 400 Silver Cedar Court, Suite 240, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 with a note that it is for Bike for Birds.

Kind regards,

Lena Gallitano
Raleigh, NC
Member of Audubon NC Board of Trustees
Please support our Audubon NC Bike for Birds Team!
Jeff Birk, Jim Martin, Skip Stoddard, Gary Smith,
Heather Hahn, Penelope Foss & Lena Gallitano Donate to Bike for Birds now through October 11th!

Carvers Creek State Park Field Trip: Saturday, October 25th

A Pearson Audubon Exploration Trip

carvers creek state park
Carvers Creek State Park

Carvers Creek is one of North Carolina’s newest state parks, and we thought it would be fun to take a Saturday to do some exploring there. The park, located in Spring Lake north of Fayetteville, consists of about 4,000 acres of longleaf pine forest, open fields, wetlands and a large millpond. The pine forests, of course, are home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Included in the park is Long Valley Farm, the former estate of James Stillman Rockefeller. In addition to preserving this disappearing ecosystem and early twentieth century history, the park also serves to buffer Ft. Bragg from development.

The park opened just last September and is operating with interim facilities. Two trails are open for walking, the James S. Rockefeller Trail and the Cypress Point Trail. The trails allow access to all the ecosystems in the park, as well as the historic summer home of James Rockefeller and the other buildings of his farm. Check out the park at

We plan to take the day to leisurely explore the park and its varied ecosystems. We will leave at 10:00 AM from our usual place in the Whole Foods parking lot between the Chick-fil-A and the BB&T Building, right along Friendly Avenue. The drive down is about an hour and a half, so we’ll have plenty of time to explore, have lunch and still be back by 5:00 PM or so.

Carvers Creek State Park
Carvers Creek State Park

Plan to bring your lunch and drinks as there are no eating facilities at the park. We will carpool from Greensboro, so a monetary contribution to the drivers to defray the costs of gas is appropriate. As always, children are welcome if accompanied by an adult. Bring your binoculars, scopes, and field guides, and dress for the weather. Also as always, if it is raining hard we will cancel; otherwise we will go.

As this is an all day trip, we would like to know who is planning to go. Please call or e-mail Jack Jezorek: 272-6664, to let us know you are coming along.