This experience inspired Mava to employ her years of marketing and business start up experience to helping Emily build a non-profit organization that could support the care of injured and orphaned songbirds- first aid, medical procedures, food, housing and transportation. Many community members encouraged the development of this organization and promised support and funding. 

During the organization start up activities, Emily and her family moved to Texas. With strong feelings of commitment to the mission of this organization, Mava decided to take on not only the fundraising and the administrative functions as planned, but also to assume full time caregiver and rehabilitator efforts, and to house the facility at her residence in Big Sky. Emily continued to act as a rehabilitation consultant and serve on BSBR's board of directors. Sid Gustafson, DVM a local veterinarian, would also serve on the board of directors. 

On October 10, 2013, Big Sky Bird Rescue Inc. was formed as a Montana non-profit corporation. 501C3 tax exempt status was applied for and approval was granted in July 2014.  


At the grassroots level, Big Sky Bird Rescue (BSBR) was started by Emily Johnsen in 2011 at her home in Big Sky. Working as a sub-permittee wild bird rehabilitator under Montana Wildlife Center in Helena, Emily funded all bird rescue efforts herself. As word got out, the demand for Emily's efforts grew exponentially.

Mava Hurd, formerly of N.J,. settled in Big Sky in 2009 with her husband, Leonard Izzo, and two of their children. Mava had rehabilitated several songbirds in New Jersey. Word got out and she was asked to help with several injured or orphaned song birds that were found by Big Sky residents.. Upon learning of Emily's efforts, Mava and her teenage daughter Janie Izzo asked if they could volunteer to help with the birds' care. 

In the early days of their helping Emily, two birds  were in need of expensive medical care, but no funds were available. Mava wanted to help and offered to find funding for these birds. A generous community member agreed to help with the medical expenses for these birds. Both birds survived, one was released back into the wild within a month of treatment and the other became a valuable surrogate mother for numerous orphaned baby corvids. 

Big Sky Bird Rescue

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