Betty Burridge, Sonoma County champion of bird conservation, dies at 84 


Betty Burridge loved birds. One of the region’s leading, longest-tenured advocates of wildlife conservation, Burridge counted and chronicled and studied and traveled the world to seek out and savor every possible species.

A physical therapist by profession, Burridge was for decades a stalwart of the regional Audubon Society and a leader of its winter bird counts. She spent years compiling a Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas that has been invaluable when questions arise as to how a proposed construction project might impact nesting birds.

“In these times of rapid growth and development within Sonoma County, wildlife habitat is disappearing every day,” Burridge said 30 years ago, in comments that still seem timely. “Each of us can recall fields where hawks used to soar, that now are shopping centers; farm ponds where ducks and shorebirds lingered, that since have been drained.”

Passionate to the end about preserving ecosystems that support birds and other animals, Burridge died March 24 in Santa Rosa. She was 84.

For many years, she and fellow Madrone Audubon Society members Ernestine “Ernie” Smith and Martha Bentley towered as giants in regional conservation efforts. Smith died just last August, Bentley in 2008.

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