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Owlet Champion

Conservancy Volunteer

The perfect day for Tim Thompson involves a ladder and a lost bird. Tim is one of 600 volunteers with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida who believes in protecting our community’s natural resources. He has likely rescued more birds in south Florida than anyone, bringing a love of nature and gallant energy to his days (and nights) as a volunteer. Recently, he was called to a job site in Bonita Bay where an Osprey was tangled upside down, hanging helplessly by fishing line on the roof of a condo where she was nesting. Tim was “in the area” (as he often is) and was able to climb up and gently cut the bird down and deliver her to Von Arx Wildlife Hospital. 

As a “Critter Courier,” he and other volunteers collect and transport injured animals to von Arx where nearly 4,000 are treated and released each year. The Osprey convalesced there less for than a week and was released by Tim off the same roof.  He has held two-day-old Screech Owlet in the palm of his hand, returning them to one of the many the nesting boxes he built and hung in areas where the owls frequent. “I am always happy to explain to homeowners when they find a baby owl in their yard that the Screech Owl are very discreet very quiet birds that are seldom heard.”

Tim first visited the Conservancy 20 years ago as a chaperone on his son’s field trip. "Of course it was much smaller back then but it was such a great trip I really embraced the fact that they were educating young citizens on the importance of our wildlife and water conservation,” he says. “Almost right away I started carving out some hours to volunteer at the Conservancy.”  

Growing up in the Melbourne Beach area in the 1970s, he remembers Florida before there were condominiums and sky-scraping hotels lining the beaches. “We could walk across A1A without even looking both ways!”

 He and his wife had a business in the Naples area, built a house three years ago in Marbella Isles near Orange Blossom and now he is "experimenting" with retirement. While he holds a degree in parks and recreation administration from FSU, he hasn’t had the opportunity to exercise his passion for ecology and nature until he joined the volunteer ranks at the Conservancy,

“The Conservancy has benefitted immensely from Tim’s hard work, tenacity and support of our mission; he truly is an asset to our organization and the community. Tim believes strongly in protecting and conserving our natural resources and gives selflessly of his time and talents to help wildlife in need. Working to protect and save Southwest Florida Wildlife is his passion and his enthusiasm and dedication are seen every day in how he lives his life,” says -Joanna Fitzgerald, Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. “Tim has worked with the staff at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for the past 15 years. Tim is up for any challenge, whether it be rescuing a newly hatch owlet or netting a bald eagle injured after a vehicle collision, Tim will always offer a helping hand. His work ethic is beyond compare and lucky for us, he applies that strong work ethic to helping wildlife in need.”

We asked Tim about his favorite way to spend a few hours with friends or family at the Conservancy property. “

The sound of an electric boat ride may not seem like a thrilling ride but I must tell you it is the most relaxing and enjoyable 45-minute tour of the Gordon River. The new fleet of electric boats are so quiet and drive so beautifully.”  Free with Nature Center admission, electric boat tours cruise the Gordon River with trained guides who point out the natural beauty surrounding the Conservancy Nature Center with opportunities to spot a manatee or two.

The work of saving our environment started in 1964 when plans were revealed to build a road through Rookery Bay, crossing Gordon Pass and into the Ten Thousand Islands. A small group of citizens became concerned, involved, and politically active mobilizing grassroots efforts to prevent the project. As a result, the road was never built. Rookery Bay and its inhabitants were saved and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida was founded.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida. 1485 Smith Preserve Way, Naples.