Mourning the loss of Jay Holcomb, our hero

Jay-Holcomb-International-Bird-RescueIt is with great sorrow that we share with you the news that International Bird Rescue Executive Director Jay Holcomb has passed away. Jay was surrounded by family and friends upon his passing in Modesto, Calif. on June 10, 2014.

For decades, Jay was a force of nature in his mission to save wild birds all over the world, giving a voice to the animals who need it most and teaching us to follow in his footsteps. We offer our deepest sympathies to his family at this time.

Because of Jay’s spirit and dedication, International Bird Rescue during his tenure grew into a global leader in wildlife rehabilitation — training animal professionals all over the world in emergency response and inspiring new generations of environmental advocates.

Barbara Callahan, our longtime Director of Response Services and a global expert on aquatic wildlife, will serve as Interim Executive Director during this difficult time. Thank you, Barbara, for your leadership and devotion to a cause that Jay cared so much about.

A memorial service is planned, and details will be announced soon.

Friend, mentor, hero: Jay, you are forever in our hearts. Thank you for devoting your life to animals. We cannot think of a more noble pursuit. — IBR Board of Directors

Read Jay’s obituary here.

Per his wishes, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a memorial fund established in Holcomb’s name benefiting wildlife rescue efforts at International Bird Rescue. We have set up a Jay Holcomb Memorial Fund page here.

We also wanted to share with you some wonderful words from Jay, written on the occasion of our 40th Montana 43 7.21.11 Hayden Nevill Jay rinsing c hawkanniversary in 2011:

I am a wildlife rehabilitator; that’s been my career and my life. All I have ever wanted to get across was the value, importance and beauty of animals, and to accept some accountability and responsibility for their welfare – especially when they are impacted by human activity.

This desire was born out of watching and befriending animals as a kid, and by listening to disturbing things that people thought of them.

Very early in my life, I became aware that I had a sense of purpose that I could not shake – nor did I want to – so I just lived as I was compelled to. At age 5 or so, I became aware of an intense desire to help animals but had no idea how to make it happen. I held that knowingness in my mind, knew it would happen, and basically allowed it to unfold in front of me. 


We would love to hear any remembrances you have of Jay. You can leave a note on the comments section of this ongoing memorial thread below. We’ll be putting together a book of these remembrances for Jay’s family and will have it on display for an upcoming memorial service.

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