Catherine "Birdie" Hurlbutt, a retired stenotype reporter and bird rescuer, died on December 22, 2012 at the age of 99. Her remains were cremated.

Services are Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 1:30pm, Olinger Moore Howard Chapel, 4345 W. 46th Ave., Denver 80212 (NE corner of 46th and Tennyson), with a reception at the funeral home immediately following the service.

Miss Hurlbutt retired from the Bureau of Reclamation in 1978 after 41 years with the US Government.

Interested in birds from an early age, she devoted her time after retirement to bird rehabilitation and to the study of talking birds, about which she wrote a book and made numerous recordings of their vocabularies. She also wrote five books on her experiences as a bird rehabilitator. Her car, a civilian Checker "Bird Taxi", with paintings of birds was a familiar sight on the streets of Denver.

Miss Hurlbutt never married, explaining she was unable to find a man who would tolerate a raven in one bedroom, a crow in another and a magpie in the kitchen. She is survived by several cousins. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:

Wild BIRD, PO Box 101133, Denver, CO 80250 or


  • Memorial Service Saturday, January 12, 2013


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January 14, 2013

Your service and your family did such an incredible job - how I loved viewing the slides of your life - you touched so many without feathers - though it is the feathers that connect. My biggest prayer is that WILD Bird will get the funding to have a permanent home to carry on what you gave birth to in Denver dear dear lady!

Mary Anne Smith

January 14, 2013

I had to miss the memorial service because of work schedule today. I would have given anything to be there. Each person is special but Catherine was beyond that and so is the influence she left for so many people. If we had more people like Catherine, the world would be better for it.

Ellen Kessler

January 13, 2013

What a beautiful memorial we had for Catherine today. Lots of wonderful memories about a wonderful bird advocate. If Edgar was still alive and we asked will there ever be another Catherine, Edgar would surely say "nevermore." Rest in peace, Catherine.

January 12, 2013

Rest on peace Catherine A Hurlbutt. May you sail on a thousand wings.

January 12, 2013

Your soul is at peace with every bird you gave a second chance. What a beautiful life and legacy. Thank you. Lynn

Valerie Miller

January 11, 2013

My first memory of Birdie was when I was a small child. My father worked at the Bureau of Reclamation, and when we found an injured bird in our yard, he said there was a woman he worked with who knew all about birds and he would give her a call. I can still see her standing in our back yard, dressed in a dark blue 40's suit, a matching blue pill box hat with black netting topping a grey braid wrapped around her head; heavy dark black shoes. She had a voice that sounded like a bird. Fearlessly she took up the bird, told us all about what kind of bird it was, and left with it. I was impressed. From that moment, Birdie was a part of my growing up and a part of our family's life.

Some years after I graduated from college, I was living in a duplex in Denver and found an injured sparrow. What to do? I hadn't seen her for years, but I called Birdie. It turned out that she didn't live far from me. She came and rescued me by taking my sparrow. Because that's what she did. She rescued all of us who were helpless when these suffering small beautiful beings came to us.

Over the years several of my friends who needed rescuing would bring their birds to me, because I knew The Bird Lady. I would bring them along with me to Birdie and they would all be taken by her knowledge, her lifestyle [How many people have a raven named Edgar in their front room?], her presence and her absolute dedication the birds. My husband declared her a living Saint.

The last time my husband and I took a bird to her, we knew her health was fading. Then came the time when we realized she was no longer living in her home. We sadly thought she must have passed on.

Then came the flicker. On a walk, we found a suffering flicker, injured, unable to move from being drowned by a water sprinkler. We scrawled down a number and address, of what we thought was a rescue center in strip mall way out in Centennial, which we had used once in Birdie's absence. We called the center, they said they be open for us, we put the flicker in a pet carrier and headed out.... in totally the wrong direction. After over an hour of being lost, we realized we had read the address wrong The address we had written down was a different organization... across town. Two hours late, after their closing time, we finally pulled up in the driveway of what looked like a small white farmhouse. There was still a light on, so we gathered up the poor little flicker, stepped into the enclosed porch and hopefully knocked on the door. Thankfully, a lovely woman answered, took our little flicker while we waited on the porch. When she returned I told her how I used to know a woman named Birdie who I would take injured birds to. She said, "We know Birdie. All of our equipment was donated by her. All the bird paintings you see here on the porch were painted by her. The woman who operates this facility was trained by Birdie. Then she pointed to an old cab in the field by the house. It was the "Bird Taxi" that had been awarded to her through "Nine Who Care." We were stunned...and very happy. We had found "Wild B.I R. D". Birdie, your legacy lives on.

Valerie Miller

January 9, 2013

When my daughter was eight - now thirty, found a baby bird. She brought it home and said "can we keep it"? What did I know about birds? So, I found Birdie" I wanted to give her the bird when she came over to my house as I thought to pick up the bird, she said very politely - you can take care of it. My eyes went wide as she proceeded to educated me on taking care of the bird. Twenty-two years later and I still take care of "dickie" birds. A great person you are Catherine! You will be missed! Jen (Aurora CO)

Mary Anne Smith DVM

January 7, 2013

Catherine you were an artist with words and stories yet I find there are not enough words or enough eloquence to describe your life and loves. Thanks for being my friend and mentor to so many "rehabers". When I send animals to eternity now, I can send them to you, Althea, Sigrid and my sister as I bet you are helping God with them there as you helped Him with them here. I know Edgar had been waiting for you with quite an avain array. I can hear him say, "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!!"

Donna Lutsky

January 7, 2013

Dear Catherine, Years ago I would bring sick or injured birds to you at your home in Wash Park. You never turned us away and we would always make a donation. - I had the opportunity to meed Edgar, your Raven and see all the little winged ones you would care for in all the rooms of your home. Thank you for being a mentor and for loving our little winged creatures. Your kindness and love made a big difference in this world. Thank you Catherine. You will be missed. sincerely, Donna Lutsky

Danae Dupree

January 7, 2013

Such a sweet lady, may you RIP. I remember the visits to your house when I was a little girl with my Aunt Linda and all of the birds you cared for. You will always be remembered. May you now fly free with the angels and birds.