Coastal Conservation

Steward Stories: Wildlife Rescue is Tim Thompson’s Middle Name

Audubon shorebird steward volunteer gets a lot out of giving back to Southwest Florida's birds.

Tim Thompson rarely leaves his house without a pet crate, pair of gloves, and a towel. He never knows when he might be called to rescue local wildlife in need. While he wears many hats, he enjoys the time he dedicates to Audubon by protecting shorebirds and educating people about them, from Marco Island to Big Carlos Pass. As a shorebird steward volunteer, he also keeps tabs on birds nesting on a North Naples rooftop. 

Growing up on the beaches of the Space Coast and later moving to Southwest Florida, Tim loves doing everything on the water, including fly fishing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. One day, while fly fishing on a Naples area beach, he watched a crew of shorebird steward volunteers setting up signs and string and educating a growing crowd. He saw their shirts that said, "Ask Me About the Birds," started chatting with them, and decided to sign up. 

“I’ve had a good business in Florida and am totally seeing the pressures our wildlife is enduring here now, in one of the fastest growing regions in the nation,” Tim says. “It’s nice to give back.”

In his first season as an Audubon volunteer, Tim appreciated guidance from the Audubon anchor steward showing him the ropes, including how to engage fellow beachgoers with Audubon's sea and shorebird work. He has had the privilege of working beside dedicated Audubon biologists and says that his fellow volunteers are some of the most compassionate and dedicated people he has met in his 53 years in Florida.

When asked about his favorite beach-nesting bird, he admits to being a fan of Black Skimmers. As a kid, Tim remembers seeing them migrate through but didn’t know much about them. He says it’s been fun to learn about how amazing these birds really are.

“Also, watching them fly with their acrobatic agility is always fun,” he added.

Tim retired from the home improvement business and says he is very fortunate that his wife of 25 years supports the many hours he commits to volunteering for coastal birds, but being an Audubon shorebird steward is only one of his volunteer duties. Tim has also been a volunteer for 15 years at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s VonArx Wildlife Hospital, where he has received plenty of experience handling, rescuing, and transporting injured wildlife like Bald Eagles and Crested Caracaras. He has even released two flocks of Black-bellied Whistling Ducklings at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary after their rehabilitation.

His favorite non-beach bird? The Eastern Screech-Owl, a species that he has rescued and re-nested many times over the years.

“They are such stoic, tough little owls, and always loyal to their young ones,” says Tim.

When not fly fishing or rescuing birds, Tim can be seen taking a daily ride on one of his technical or precision electric skateboards, and of course, keeping an eye out for wildlife in need of rescue along the way.

Do you have free time and an interest in protecting coastal birds? Join our flock! 


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