In November of this year, the wildlife and environmental community in the Comox Valley lost a good friend and a significant leader.
Maj Birch was the founder, senior wildlife rehabilitator, and manager of the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS). In 1995, she, along with her husband Keith, established the wildlife centre in 1995 on their three acres of property. MARS’ mission is to conserve and protect wildlife and its natural habitat through education and rehabilitation. The Centre became a designated Wildlife Facility in 1996.
Maj and her team at MARS rescued and cared for over 9,000 wild animals and birds over her 20 years of dedicated service on Vancouver Island.
Maj established a strong network of supporters throughout the Comox Valley and on Vancouver Island. She served as a director of the Comox Valley Naturalists, BC Wildlife Rehabilitators Network and was a member of Courtenay Fish & Game, the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Comox Valley Environmental Council and was involved in the Wildlife Tree Stewardship program where she had been a community coordinator for many years.
Maj joined the Estuary Working Group when it was first established by Project Watershed in 2009 to support the restoration and protection of the K’ómoks Estuary. She was a strong supporter of efforts to protect habitat in the estuary, particularly eagle nesting trees. In keeping with her education work, she provided live displays, often hawks, for various Project Watershed community events. In 2013, Project Watershed joined with MARS to host the Swan Festival which Maj hoped would become an annual event celebrating this majestic bird during its winter months in our Valley.
We have lost a valued ally with Maj’s passing but hope that the work to which she devoted herself lives on with the support of those who worked with her to achieve her dream of protecting and conserving wildlife and its natural habitat in the Comox Valley.