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A Brief History of the Hartford Audubon Society

Bushnell Park, 1909
Bushnell Park, 1909

On May 8, 1909, John Sage of Portland gave a lecture on Connecticut birds at the Historical Society. Following the lecture, a group met and appointed a “Plan for Organization” committee. One week later, on May 18, 1909, about sixty people attended the first permanent meeting of the Hartford Bird Study Club in the lobby of the Atheneum. Albert Morgan was elected President, and Arthur Powers Secretary and Treasurer.

Arthur Powers became President in 1912, again in 1917, and then served as Treasurer for many years.

CW Vibert was at the center of the club’s birding from 1913 to 1938. CW did not like the new gadgets of his day but learned to like his telephone when he found he could summon his Hartford friends whenever he saw good birds at the swamp and meadow near his house on Main St in South Windsor. They would come on the trolley, stop at Station 41 (near Vibert Rd), and use his house as a base. His beloved swamp and meadow is now known as Station 43.

The Christmas Bird Count, which provides data for the study of the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America, has been a Hartford Audubon fixture since the 1930s.

The club was incorporated and became tax exempt in 1949. This enabled the club to receive land for five sanctuaries before land trusts became the main recipients of land donations.

The tax-exempt status also led to our current endowment by making large gifts, such as the one by Mary French, possible.

In the 1950s, Alex Bergstrom guided a major bird banding activity and, along with Wendell Taber, began the tradition of overnight trips to Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland.

Walter Charsky started the ongoing annual overnight trip to Cape Ann and Plum Island in 1960.

The club’s legal name was changed from the Hartford Bird Study Club, Inc. to the Hartford Audubon Society, Inc. in 1965. About the same time as the name change, there were serious discussions between Hartford Audubon Society and National Audubon toward forging a tight link between the two organizations. This did not come to fruition.

The “Beginners Walk at Station 43”, with the extremely popular four trips a year format of today, began in 1991. Overall, Hartford Audubon Society has hosted over 350 trips to Station 43.

Hawkwatching in Connecticut became serious in the 1970s largely from the efforts of Society members Gerry Mersereau and Don Hopkins, first through the discovery of migration patterns, and then with a series of Statewide Hawkwatching events.