Bill Thompson III aka BT3 was always someone I was happy to see. Years ago before there was any “Birdchick” and I was trying to get published, I sent bird articles to anyone. The ones from his family’s publication Bird Watcher’s Digest were the nicest, “This is a great article, but isn’t right for our publication.” It was handwritten and everything.
I first met Bill in my days of working for a wild bird feeding store, working birding trade shows called Bird Watch America but really got to know him at Tucson ABA Convention. We had a late night and he introduced me to what is my favorite beer to this day: Fat Tire. I have to admit that as nice as he was, I was really hoping to meet Julie Zickefoose and hoped he’d get me an in.
Not long after that I ran into him in the Rio Grande Valley. I was there on my own for the first time and he was leading a field trip. He dashed over to hug me and say hi and then pointed out my very first great kiskadee and informed me that they don’t say, “kisk-a-dee, kisk-a-dee” what they are really saying in their call is “Fuck the world! Fuck the world!”
Fuck the the world indeed. He’s gone too soon.
I have so many special birding moments or stories that I tell friends that he was part of. He may not even be mentioned in those stories, but he was there experiencing them with me. He was always someone you were happy to see when he walked in a room. He was generous with his time, advice and ear. He was always trying to make birding as approachable and fun as possible. The New Birder’s Guide is still one of the best books out there for someone who wants to make the switch from backyard birding to full on birding.
Here are some of my favorite memories of Bill.