Smith: Visiting snowy owl from the Arctic changed his life. Now, Genesee man shares love of birds, photography. – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It was the winter of 2009-10 and Jim Edlhuber of the City of Genesee was closing in on a well-earned retirement after a profession as a sheet steel employee.

He had some thought what he’d do along with his free time after he stopped clocking in on the store every day.

However then issues crystallized in an surprising approach.

A serendipitous encounter with an enormous white hen modified the whole lot. 

Edlhuber and his spouse Deb had been driving that fateful day in Waukesha County close to a brand new retail development website.

“We noticed a bunch of automobiles pulled over,” Edlhuber, 66, recalled. “We thought it was odd so we stopped to search out out what they had been .”

It is not a stretch to say it modified his life.

There, sitting on the bottom in southern Wisconsin, was a customer from the Arctic — a snowy owl.

The encounter with the gorgeous hen launched Edlhuber headlong into the pastime of wildlife images.

“That actually began the wheels turning,” Edlhuber stated.

When he retired the following 12 months, he started a behavior of day by day outings with a digicam and a 400 mm telephoto lens – a present from Deb – to report what he noticed, largely of the feathered selection.

At first, he typically did not know what he was seeing.

“I discovered proper from the underside,” Edlhuber stated. “I didn’t even know what migration was. I used to be so busy working and elevating a household, I used to be clueless.”

Edlhuber stated in 2010 he thought there was just one sparrow species and one “sea gull.”

However he began studying.

He tapped into native assets, together with the Wisconsin Birding Community and the Retzer Nature Middle Digicam Membership.

He began a county listing of birds, then a state listing. Every single day he’d exit and {photograph} birds and are available dwelling and establish the species through the pictures he captured.

And he is discovered a ton from individuals within the state’s birding group.

“A few of the nicest and smartest individuals you may ever discover,” Edlhuber stated. “You get within the automotive with these individuals and it’s like sitting within a e-book. You study a lot it’s unbelievable. And it’s enjoyable.”

Since he began maintaining observe in 2009, Edlhuber has seen 358 species of birds in Wisconsin. 

He’s recognized to go on a visit to see a hen. Even on a second’s discover.

He watches for notifications of surprising hen sightings on the Wisconsin Birding Community and thru Fb.

However now, in spring, birds come to us.

Edlhuber recommends individuals decide a great place or two of their native space and revel in the spring migration.

His late March routine is to rise early and hit a number of websites in southeastern Wisconsin.

A few of his favorites are South Shore Yacht Membership on the Lake Michigan shore in Milwaukee; Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee; Lake Park in Milwaukee; Wehr Nature Middle in Greenfield; and the Fox River in Waukesha.

This time of 12 months waterfowl are his main focus.

On Thursday, he noticed a lone drake bufflehead, resplendent in black-and-white plumage.

“Ten years in the past I may have most likely advised you it was a duck, however not far more,” Edlhuber stated. “It has been a lot enjoyable and so satisfying for me to study extra about birds.”

Whether or not a newbie or an skilled, the training by no means stops.

And with birds in breeding plumage, spring is arguably prime time to study new species.

Edlhuber has prolonged his ardour for birds and images right into a public service to the birding group by a sequence of quizzes he presents on his free web site, Window To Wildlife.

Meggan Hill, his daughter, put the web site collectively and confirmed Edlhuber tips on how to add content material to it. Viewers can even comply with Edlhuber’s travels across the state and see what he is been seeing by a weblog he often updates on the location.

Every quiz options Edlhuber’s coloration images, ideas for species identification and the solutions. 

This time of 12 months, he recommends individuals attempt the geese, grebes and geese quiz.

It could actually assist tease out the variations, for instance, between the larger and lesser scaup, generally often called bluebills. The massive key: larger scaup have a broad black band on the tip of their payments, whereas lessers have a slim black tip.

“We have an enormous wave of geese and geese coming by,” Edlhuber stated. “I all the time stay up for seeing what new species have proven up.”

The opposite quizzes are: sparrows; shorebirds; warblers; and an identical take a look at of birds and habitat.

The choices are particularly worthwhile to Badger State residents since every options birds photographed in Wisconsin. 

Even in the event you do not make the most of the quizzes, Edlhuber encourages individuals to get out and benefit from the birds. He has a goal of being open air mountain climbing and taking images 3 to 4 hours a day.

“That is what I do in retirement and I could not be happier,” Edlhuber stated. “I labored in a store for lots of years. Now I’m open air, on daily basis. The birding and images advantages my well being. If individuals do not do it now, I actually hope they provide it a attempt.”

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