- Associated Press - Sunday, February 9, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire group created to protect and restore migratory bird populations is celebrating its centennial.

New Hampshire Audubon was founded in 1914 in Nashua by a small group of men and woman who wanted to protect birds from being overhunted for sport, food and fashion. A year later, membership had grown to nearly 550 adults and thousands of schoolchildren, and in later decades, the group’s activities have focused on education, research, conservation, legislation and sanctuaries. One of its first successes was the defeat of a 1915 bill that would have permitted the killing of herons and Belted Kingfishers.

Between 1920 and 1940, members focused on education in schools, publishing the first periodicals of bird records and acquiring their first sanctuary. By 1960, it was leading field trips and publishing systematic records of bird populations and - by 1980 - was operating a nature center at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown.

In more recent decades, New Hampshire Audubon created an Endangered Species Program, celebrated the return of bald eagles, expanded its summer camps and opened several additional nature and wildlife centers.

The group is planning a variety of programs throughout the year to celebrate, starting with a Birthday Bash on Feb. 15 at the McLane Audubon Center in Concord. The festivities will include bird presentations, snowshoe hikes and crafts. Prizes will be awarded to cakes that best depict the theme of protecting birds and wildlife, and the cakes will be raffled off after the competition.

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