NC Threatened Bird Project

Endangered birds back card

Together with a group of young environmental enthusiasts, aged 6 years old to 15 years old, I’m proud to announce the North Carolina Threatened Bird Project. In an effort to raise money to benefit these birds that live right here in our own home state, my company has produced a collection of note cards based on the art from this talented young group. A portion of the proceeds from these note cards sold from my Etsy shop will be donated to help birds.

We also wanted to spread the word about some tips folks can use at home to help each of these birds, and some resources to learn more:

Brown-headed Nuthatches

Brown-headed nuthatches rely on pines in many ways: 1) they eat pine seeds, 2) they nest in dead pines, 3) they use pine bark to hide pine seeds to save for later, and 4) they use pine bark to build their nest. You can help them by leaving pine forests and pine snags (dead pines) standing. If you live in the Southeast US like brown-headed nuthatches do, you can also hang nest boxes for brown-headed nuthatches.  In Central NC, you can order brown-headed nuthatch nest boxes for $15 each from . You can find instructions for hanging and maintaining brown-headed nuthatch nest boxes here: (

Wood Thrushes

Wood thrushes are in the Eastern US in spring and summer only; they go to Central America for fall and winter. Wood thrushes need to eat Spicebush berries in the fall to get enough energy to fly across the Gulf of Mexico.  If you live in the Eastern US, you can help by planting Spicebushes, because there is a Spicebush shortage. Plant 2 or more Spicebushes in a group, because the bushes are male and female and you need one of each to make berries. You can find Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) where native plants are sold. In Central NC, this includes the North Carolina Botanical Gardens ( and Niche Gardens ( Planting Spicebush also helps Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars!

Wood thrushes nest in Eastern US in the summer. They need undisturbed forests because they nest in low forks of trees or bushes. You can help by leaving forests undisturbed and keeping cats indoors always.


Osprey are also known as “fish hawks”  because they only eat fish. Osprey nest close to water, and if they find fishing line or twine they will use it in their nest, and then the birds get tangled. You can help by picking up fishing line or twine that you find outdoors and putting it in a trash can. Osprey need clean water and healthy fish to eat. You can help by not using chemicals outside that might wash into rivers or lakes, and encouraging other people not to either. Read more about osprey here:

Piping Plovers

Piping plovers nest right on ocean and lake beaches along the Atlantic Coast, in the Great Plains, and by the Great Lakes. Human activities on beaches disturb their nesting areas, and piping plovers are now threatened in all parts of their range, and rarely nest near the Great Lakes anymore. People driving on the beach can crush their eggs, and garbage left on the beach can attract predators that may steal eggs or eat nestlings. You can help by not driving on the beach and picking up trash that you see in beach areas. Read more about piping plovers here:

Barn Owls

Barn owls need large open spaces. They also need nesting space in hollowed out trees or other structures. Barn owls eat rodents. Poisons used on rodents may end up hurting barn owls too. Barn owls fly low to hunt rodents for food and sometimes fly over the road and get hit by a car. You can help by planting bushes next to the road in open areas to make barn owls fly higher over the road and reduce the chance that they would get hit by a car. You can also help by not using poison to kill rodents, and encouraging others not to. If you live on a farm or near other large fields, you can hang up a barn owl nest box. Contact Audubon to see if you have a good home for barn owls and get help hanging a nest box. In Central NC, you can use this web address:

Wild Turkeys

Wild turkeys like a mix of open land and woodsy habitats. Wild turkeys eat a lot of nuts, seeds, and berries. Acorns are one of their favorite foods. Wild turkeys can fly and usually roost in trees overnight.  Like many birds, wild turkeys are threatened by climate change. You can help by planting oak trees. You can also help by becoming an Audubon member and supporting their efforts to protect bird habitats and help birds threatened by climate change.

These birds represent only a few of North Carolina’s threatened species. Visit these links to find out more about threatened birds in NC and along the Atlantic Coast:

Here’s the back-story:

After Eli (aged 8) attended a lunchtime lecture about brown-headed nuthatches at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, he was determined to help. Eli raised money for nuthatch nest boxes, hosted a nest-box-building party, hung some nest boxes himself and gave more to friends and neighbors. Later that spring, he went to an Audubon Ambassador training, where he was invited to give another short talk on these threatened birds. Along the way the idea of an art exhibit to raise awareness about threatened birds was born. Eli’s mom, Lisa, began looking for folks to bring it together. Beverly Dyer, a local artist and bird lover, was the perfect match.

A total of 12 kids selected a threatened bird to draw and paint, and Loren Hintz, from the New Hope Audubon Society, gave a talk about each bird. Except of course the brown-headed nuthatch, who was introduced by Eli. Local photographers Bobby Nicks, Pamela Harrington, Dave Hart, and Charles Dean Tysinger generously allowed use of their bird photos for reference.

The final exhibit was amazing. The show was displayed at the Chapel Hill Public Library from August 1, 2017 – August 31, 2017, and also at the North Carolina Botanical Garden during the show Saving Our Birds for the months of March and April 2018. Now you can purchase this art as a notecard set!

Beverly Dyer, Certified Botanical Illustrator, is a bird enthusiast and can often be found in the woods bird-watching and sketching.