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On the Wing

keeping track of Migrating birds



This April, at the Birdcraft Sanctuary in Fairfield, some 500 migrating birds will be caught in 15 mist nets stationed strategically throughout the property. Master bird-bander Judy Richardson and her trained volunteer banders, will be up at dawn to catch, bag, band, and release the birds after recording salient details. Working under the auspices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they will process, and in most cases, release the birds in less than ten minutes. Handling the birds is an art in itself, for the birds have one or another body parts caught in the mesh, and must be handled quickly and with skill or they could die from stress or injury.

Culling the information gathered, scientists can track how far birds travel, how long they live, and discover where they rest and spend the winter. Over time, scientists can assess whether a specie’s numbers are rising or falling.

For the banders who participate in this bi-seasonal, spring-and-fall operation along the Atlantic flyway, these are weeks to see an extraordinary assortment of birds, from delicate and exquisitely marked songbirds—gray catbirds are most common in springtime, while white-throated sparrows top the list in the fall—to the occasional misfit who winds up in Fairfield terribly off course. Some 120 species of birds have been recorded since the banding station was established in 1977.

 

The Birdcraft operation is now a part of a national banding effort. Remarkably, given the sanctuary’s inception as a diminutive six-acre urban asylum, it marks the place where the plight of birds came to national attention nearly a century ago.

Mabel Osgood Wright, its creator, set out to thwart the wanton slaughter of birds, whose luxurious feathers were used for women’s hats. In contrast, she offered the “Song Bird Sanctuary—an oasis in a desert of material things.” When Annie Burr Jennings, an heir to the Standard Oil fortune and Wright’s friend, gave the project her imprimatur, the future of the sanctuary and the Birdcraft Museum was secured. Money was not spared to make the urban oasis, just “ten minutes’ walk from trolley, village, and railway station,” and this gem of a place has set the standard for instruction and conservation for nearly 100 years.

Today the institution is designated as a National Historic Landmark, while continuing to serve as an important educational resource. Hundreds of schoolchildren flow through the grounds and museum each year, studying the mounted specimens and learning how to become better stewards of nature.

“The casual observer, for some occult reason, associated the deep woods with bird life, when, in reality, aside from birds of prey and perhaps a dozen species beside, the great bulk of song birds prefer open or partly brushed fields edged by tall trees, with water close at hand, and not too far from human habitations, for in spite of everything, they seem instinctively to trust to man rather than their wild enemies,” Wright wrote. She knew to plant-berry producing shrubs and create areas of brush as well as water features required by the songbirds, features largely lost to suburban development. These elements need to be reintroduced in backyards if environments rich in wildlife are to be preserved.

Many birds once plentiful in Connecticut are in trouble. According to a 2006 Connecticut Audubon report, half of the state’s native bird species were in decline and 17 percent were on the state’s “endangered,” “threatened,” or “species of special concern” lists. Loss of habitat is the major cause and a continuing threat. Unless residents work to reverse this trend, much of the birdsong that we associate with spring could disappear forever.

Yet, Richardson points to strides made since she was a child, when Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring alerted the world to the perils of some pesticides. Once-endangered osprey now nest again locally, and bald eagles soar the thermals in the state’s valleys.
 

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January 2019

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and how he influenced the civil rights movement. Watch short films about King's life and create your own craft with colorful papers and ribbons...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: People's United Bank
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Join the area’s leading investment and financial professionals at the CFA Society Hartford’s Annual Forecast Dinner. The group’s premier networking event of the year will be...

Cost: Individual Member seats are $90 before 1/8, $110 for non-members

Where:
Connecticut Convention Center
100 Columbus Blvd.
Hartford, CT  06103
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Sponsor: CFA Society Hartford
Telephone: 860-604-1411
Contact Name: Rebecca Taylor
Website »

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Join us to explore adventures in stories about Alice in Wonderland, animals, and games!

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for the reception on the opening evening of the exhibition, Ghosts: French Holocaust Children, on Wednesday, January 23rd, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Walsh Gallery at the Quick Center for...

Cost: 0

Where:
Walsh Gallery
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Join us for a conversation between collector Jeffrey Horvitz and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., (Curator, The Horvitz Collection and The J.E. Horvitz Consultative Curator, Department of Drawings, Division...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

More information

A French Affair: Drawings and Paintings from The Horvitz Collection will be on view in the Bellarmine Hall Galleries from January 25 - March 29, 2019; an Opening Reception will take place on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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Thursday, Jan. 24 Author Talk: Stephanie Land - Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Maid is showing up on almost every best of, must read, don't miss list of...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Members and guests are invited to join us for the Election of Trustees, followed by an artist talk by eight photographers with work in the current exhibit. Visit our website at...

Cost: 0

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Ave.
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Born from humble beginnings in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT The Alpaca Gnomes cut their teeth in the neighborhood bar scene by playing marathon shows filled with originals and a wide...

Cost: $15.00 - $20.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Jeanne Moore
Telephone: (203) 831-5004
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
Website »

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Are you a lifelong with a passion for sharing history? Find out about becoming a Museum Docent! Docents are trained volunteer educators who present guided tours and other education programs to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday, Jan. 26 Mini Golf Family Day in the Stacks at Wilton Library, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wilton Library will hold its 2nd mini golf fundraising event. There will be food (each paid admission will...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

More information

  Touchon transforms verbal language into handsome geometric compilations, to reveal the beauty and musicality of language characterized by warmly colored shapes, interlocking irregular grids and...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

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