In Beloved Memory
Founding Member & Volunteer
December 4, 1918 – May 26, 2008
There will be a celebration of Martha’s life on Saturday, August 9, 2008 at 2pm. For more info, please call The Center at 707 523-2473.
It seemed appropriate to us for the launch of our website, to feature a volunteer who represents a piece of the ‘living history’ at Bird Rescue. There are many tasks and roles needed to keep a wildlife rehabilitation center functioning and Martha Bentley has done it all! Back in the 1970’s Martha was active with the local Audubon chapter and was directly involved in the initial response to the public for help with baby birds that later lead to the creation of the Center. (See History section for more details). Over the years Martha has done field rescue, worked in the baby bird room of the hospital, given education talks, served on the Board, developed expertise in hummingbird care, and answered perhaps thousands of calls from the public about birds in distress. Martha’s abundant energy hardly seems to have flagged at 88.
Born in Rochester, NY her father was that significant early influence, taking the family on many picnics at nearby farms where he shared his love for the natural world pointing his children to the delights of bugs, birds and geology. Martha took her undergraduate degree in history at Cornell University. and later studied library science at Simons in Chicago. Her first job took her to Detroit where she went to Audubon lectures in an effort to “learn where the best local spots were to get close to nature”.
With the outbreak of World War II Martha joined the Coast Guard, applied for officer’s candidate school, became a Lieutenant, and then went on to communications school for training as a coder. After a tour in San Francisco, she managed to get an assignment in Alaska when Congress finally allowed women to serve ‘over-seas’ (Alaska wasn’t a State then!). At the end of the war when she was discharged from service in Seattle, Martha’s next step was to immediately return to Alaska for extensive trip down the Yukon River from White Horse, on the first tour boat allowed to the public after the war. She did some birding, soaking in the grandeur and meeting some of the incredible locals.
Martha returned to her library work in Detroit, then on to a position in Queens borough in New York. A friend told her of a position in Santa Rosa, which she jumped at after hearing its praises from her mother who had visited here. Martha soon became involved with the newly formed Madrone Audubon chapter. Over the years her activism on regional conservation issues and testimony at many public hearings served an important role in preserving the Sonoma County environment for people as well as the birds.
Thank you Martha, it couldn’t have happened without you! We will miss you immeasureably.
Martha feeding a baby bird with a dropper.
An interview with
Favorite job at BRC: “Talking with the public and working with the Response Team”
Favorite bird: “Everyone thinks it would be hummingbirds. I guess my involvement with them is because I was the only one at that time who was crazy enough to try taking care of them! But I really love Loons. They remind me of Canada and my favorite canoe country.”
What she likes best about BRC: “When I lock the door and go home at night! I like that feeling that I’ve done some important work.”
Thoughts on supporting BRC: “Birds are important not only because of their beautiful feathers and songs. Birds are important for our sake too. Their primary significance is the enormous quantity of insects and seeds they eat. We’re trying to protect an important part of the World’s population – birds. It’s not only their safety but our own food supply is at stake.
Thoughts on volunteering: “Today there’s often too little time to sit and enjoy or walk and enjoy nature. Come on in and see us. After you’ve seen some of these handsome birds you may feel different. It’s sometimes hard work, but its enjoyable work for the welfare of the planet.”
Hopes for the future: “The Bird Rescue Center has survived for over a quarter of a century now thanks to those people who have contributed time, money and materials. Clearly there is a need we are meeting in the community. I would like to see BRC have a more solid financial base so we can continue this important work.”
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