Birds migrating from Canada to South America along the Atlantic Flyway can now find a suitable place to rest their wings in the new bird sanctuary at the Darien Community Association.

With the help of a "merry band of volunteers," 4 acres adjacent to the historic DCA building have been transformed into a "five-star bird restaurant," said Darien Land Trust President Chris Filmer, at the grand opening of the new sanctuary on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

For the past three years, volunteers have been at work clearing invasive and alien species that were "suffocating" the low plants and trees that provide sustenance to migrating birds, Filmer said. They've planted hundreds of shrubs, trees and flowers for birds and butterflies in an area fenced off to keep the deer away.

"It's been a methodical, thoughtful and painstaking endeavor -- how to turn an overgrown wooded area into a bird sanctuary," DCA Executive Director Amy Bell said. "It began with a financial commitment from the DCA Board of Directors and consultation with numerous feasibility experts on soil, trees, birds and habitat -- and then became what can only be described as a labor of love: 63 large bags -- and counting -- of invasive plants were removed; a meandering trail was laid; deer fencing zoning approvals sought and obtained; fencing erected; many native plants attractive to birds and butterflies were installed; and educational features constructed."

The DCA also contributed $20,000 for professional site preparation.

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Other organizations that contributed to the project include: the Darien Foundation for Technology and Community; the Garden Club of Darien; the Darien Men's Association; East Coast Irrigation; Ginger Morgan; Fox Hill Brothers; Mather Center Woodworking Shop; Tree Conservancy of Darien; the Darien Land Trust; and Audubon Connecticut.

Filmer told the crowd that the sanctuary offered a peaceful place to walk the trails that were cut out in the woods.

DCA executive director Amy Bell said she hopes local organizations, such as Girl Scout or Boy Scout troops, take advantage of the sanctuary.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson also proclaimed that Sept. 30 was DCA Bird Sanctuary Day.

After a ribbon cutting ceremony, Filmer lead a small tour through the trails of the sanctuary, stopping to explain the work that was done within the fenced-in property.

"Today is not the end of our work, by a long shot," Filmer said. "It is, however, the end of the beginning stage of building something special."

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews