United States of America, Connecticut, Fairfield, Fairfield
Birdcraft Gardens (Fairfield, Connecticut)
The Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary was founded in 1914 by ornithologist and author Mabel Osgood Wright on ten acres of land, former pasture that had been donated and deeded to the fledgling Connecticut Audubon Society. It was established as a refuge for migratory and other song birds; the birds prefer open or partly bushed fields with some tall trees so the early plantings augmented the trees and shrubs already growing. The existing trees included mature oaks, Pepperidge, cedars, maples, black cherries and alders, and trailing wild berries. To prepare the sanctuary pines, spruce and hemlocks were planted for windbreaks, mountain ash, mulberries, sweet cherries, flowering shrubs and vines were planted for food, and several stone birdbaths and numerous bird houses were installed as well as a cat-proof fence. Additional plantings included blackberries, dewberries, thimble berries, strawberries, huckleberries, blueberries, chokeberries, sumacs, wild grapes, wild plum, shad bush, elderberries, wild roses, sweetbriar and honeysuckle.
Starting in 2013 the Sasqua Garden Club has been restoring five different garden habitats with native plants that will support the ecosystem of animals, birds, insects and microorganisms. The gardens are living classrooms for the outdoor science-based education and augment the exhibits in the museum, also undergoing restoration. While many trees, shrubs and native perennials recur throughout the sanctuary, now reduced to six acres, each garden has a distinctive profile. The Woodland edge garden contains red chokeberry, dogwood, magnolia, and crab apple with spicebush, rhododendron, viburnum and an understory of coral bells, ferns, Virginia bluebells, and phlox. The Meadow garden includes wild flowers, winterberry, cedars and dogwood, grasses and low and high bush blueberries. In the Wetland garden there are Juneberry, serviceberry, milkweed, native azaleas, spicebush, river birch, native flowers and ferns. The Seaside garden has butterfly weed, sedge, beach plum, grasses and bayberry. The Terrace garden has mountain laurel, holly, honeysuckle, sumac, willow, coneflower and potentilla.
Birdcraft Sanctuary has been an important community resource ever since it opened in 1914. Every year birds are trapped in soft nets, counted, inspected, tagged and released supplying useful data on migratory bird populations. The sanctuary was enrolled on the National Register of Historic Places on June 23, 1982 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1993.
Persons associated with the garden include Annie B. Jennings (former owner, -1914); Mabel Osgood Wright (1859-1934) (founder of Birdcraft Sanctuary, 1914-circa 1934); Connecticut Audubon Society (owners since 1914);Cameron Clarke (1887-1957) (architect of the Swallow Chimney, 1937); Jack Franzen, (architect of new museum space, 2012-2014); Alice Eckerson (landscape architect, 2013- ); William Kenny (ecological services, 2013-2014); Andrew Loglisci (water features, -2016).
The folder includes worksheets and photocopies of articles and other documents, and additional images.
This property is featured in "The Making of Birdcraft Sanctuary" by Mabel Osgood Wright, Bird-Lore (Office Organ of the Audubon Societies), July-August 1915, updated in 1918, 1922, 1927; "Bird Sanctuary Survives" by Harold Hornstein, New Haven Register, March 17, 1985; "Audubon Getting Centennial Facelift" by Shawn O'Sullivan, Fairfield Sun, December 19, 2013; "Garden Club Builds Audubon 'Living Classroom'", Fairfield Sun, June 2, 2014