Founder, Laura Quinn – the “Bird Lady”
For a long time, the history of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center was about one woman, the “Bird Lady,” a name Laura Quinn, Founder, earned over the years as she created a natural legacy rescuing and rehabilitating wild birds. Once a statistician and mathematics teacher, Quinn always loved nature. She and her husband were sailors, eventually relocating to a home in Lower Matecumbe. Quinn once stated “I’d get bored on the boat, I tried to knit or crochet, but woodworking seemed to be the thing I could do that was okay to get wet.” To counter her boredom, she began carving native birds that she encountered in the Keys.
Eventually, her interest in avian species led her to collaborate with a veterinarian, Dr. Robert Foley, to provide modest rehabilitation facilities behind her small oceanfront home. By reading bird books and observing Dr. Foley, Laura learned how to rehabilitate her feathered friends, helping them heal their broken wings and removing fishhooks and monofilament line. But when the sick and injured birds she cared for increased in number and species, expansion became necessary. With a bit of luck, Quinn discovered and acquired a 5.5-acre property on which only three-quarters of an acre could be developed or built upon — just enough space for a house and office. The rest of the property was (and remains) lush native vegetation, mangroves, hammocks and wetlands.