Remembering Betty Hamilton

NYC Bird Alliance leader Betty L. Hamilton died on September 14 at the age of 99. Pictured here at the 2012 Roost.

It is with sadness NYC Bird Alliance reports the passing of Betty Hamilton on September 14, 2023, at the age of 99. Betty was a friend, colleague, and active leader with NYC Bird Alliance from the very beginning. We are pleased to share these remembrances of Betty from NYC Bird Alliance’s past organizational leaders. 

Betty was partner and better half to Geoffrey Cobb Ryan, one of the early organizers and then President of what became the NYC Bird Alliance Society. She worked tirelessly with Geoffrey in fostering environmental interests of the city, state, and nation from the 1970s to his untimely passing in 2007. A commercial artist, watercolorist, and photographer, Betty’s artwork adorned the earliest issues of The Urban Audubon. She was an enthusiastic Central Park birder, particularly for spring migration, for dozens of years. Her friends will miss her warmth, insights, and sparkling countenance.

-- Lew Rosenberg, NYC Bird Alliance founding member and Board member (1979-1990), including Vice President (1982-1984). He is a current Advisory Council member.

Betty Hamilton’s line drawing adorns the front cover of the first Urban Audubon in 1979.

Betty was a stalwart supporter of everything NYC Bird Alliance accomplished and everything it stands for. Though she may not have ever held a title, she contributed much to the welcoming spirit of the organization. She was always there beside Geoffrey on bird walks, at Audubon New York retreats, at lectures, on harbor cruises, and other events, contributing her wisdom and her subtle humor.
-- Marcia Fowle, NYC Bird Alliance’s Executive Director from 1993-1999, as well as Past President (2000-2004) and Board member (2005-2009). She is a current Advisory Council member.

Betty was NYC Bird Alliance through and through. She and Geoffrey never missed an event or action. They loved life—and birds! They were generous guides to the brand-new Executive Director that I was. We have lost a great member of the NYC Bird Alliance family.

-- E.J. McAdams, NYC Bird Alliance’s Executive Director from 2002-2006. E.J. is now at BirdLife International.

Betty’s photos helped bring to life many of our organization’s stories and activities in the pages of The Urban Audubon.

Betty was a treasure. On NYC Bird Alliance trips to Costa Rica, she put many of the younger participants to shame: she didn't want to miss a single bird! Passionate about the organization, I could count on her to introduce me to somebody she thought I should know at every event. She went out of her way to acknowledge NYC Bird Alliance's successes and was incredibly supportive of our staff.
-- Glenn Phillips, NYC Bird Alliance’s Executive Director from 2007-2014. Glenn is now at Golden Gate Bird Alliance (formerly Golden Gate Audubon Society).

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You can read more information about Betty in her obituary here