Gustavus C. Bird was born in West River, Maryland on January 4, 1839 to Benjamin Lee and Emily Eversfield Duvall Bird. His father was a prominent physician in the county. Bird entered Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with the class of 1857. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and was elected to the Belles Lettres Society. After graduation in the summer of 1857, Bird attended theological seminary in Alexandria, Virginia.
After his ordination, Bird took up a pastorate in Centreville, Maryland. He moved on to Grace Church in Honesdale, Pennsylvania and then was assistant rector at the Emmanuel Church in Baltimore. In 1872 Bird settled as the rector of St. Martin's Protestant Episcopal Church in Marcus Hook on the Delaware River, which is in the extreme south-eastern corner of Pennsylvania. He served there for twenty-seven years.
Bird married Anna Louisa Hull of New York and the couple had five children between 1867 and 1882. In March 1899, Reverend Bird suffered a nervous breakdown brought on by troubles in the parish. His debilitation was severe enough for him to resign, to be placed in a sanitarium in nearby Lindwood, and his wife and family to move to Philadelphia. Gustavus Claggett Bird died in the Lindwood institution on April 5, 1899. He was sixty years old.