EDITOR'S NOTE: Fairfield, established in 1639, is one of Connecticut's oldest communities. From its settlement 375 years ago by English colonists on "four squares" of land that Native Americans called Uncoway to the vibrant town of nearly 60,000 residents that it is today, Fairfield's history is a chronicle of compelling events and colorful characters.

The Fairfield Citizen will highlight vignettes from that rich history throughout this 375th anniversary year on a regular basis.

Two pioneering Fairfield women are credited with founding and the development of the Connecticut Audubon Society, which now has two sanctuaries in Fairfield: the Birdcraft Museum on Unquowa Road and the Audubon Center at Fairfield on Burr Street, as well as 17 other sanctuaries in the state totaling thousands of acres of protected land.

Mabel Osgood Wright, an early conservationist, founded the organization in 1898. When philanthropist Annie Burr Jennings of Fairfield gave the society 10 acres on Unquowa Road, Wright established the Birdcraft Sanctuary in 1914. Called "the first-of-its-kind songbird refuge in the nation" by the Connecticut Audubon Society, the museum sanctuary continues to be a refuge for migratory and resident birds, and the museum is a center for educational programs. More than 120 bird species have been recorded on its grounds and over 180,000 birds have been banded there.

The Birdcraft Museum, now undergoing extensive renovations, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993.

The Burr Street center, which hosts a range of environment educational programs, abuts the 155-acre Roy and Margot Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary, which encompasses diverse land, forest and wetland ecosystems. There also is a butterfly garden, farm pond with frogs, turtles and ducks, a greenhouse, and nature exhibits that include a birds of prey enclosure.

For more information about both Connecticut Audubon facilities in Fairfield, visit www.ctaudubon.org