Catherine "Birdie" Hurlbutt, pictured in 1985, told a friend that "the only thing better than one bird is two birds." She died Dec. 22. A memorial is planned for Saturday. (Denver Post file)
For decades, Catherine "Birdie" Hurlbutt was a familiar sight, steering her converted Checker Cab as she drove through Denver to rescue injured birds. She died in her sleep on Dec. 22 at age 99.
Tall and lanky, with outsized spectacles and a broad, toothy smile, she devoted her life to rescuing and rehabilitating wild birds. Hurlbutt, who never married and shared her modest south Denver ranch house with dozens of recuperating birds, was licensed to care for wild birds by the federal and state divisions of wildlife.
She spent most of her childhood on a Shaffers Crossing homestead acquired and then lost during the Great Depression by her father, a music professor with more ambition than business acumen. She raised her first bird, a chicken named Penny Precious, there.
She worked as a stenographer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, where she kept a bird feeder near her office until she retired in 1978 after 41 years.