THREE LAKES - If you look out your window and see a bird, you might be a birder.
A recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report ranked Wisconsin second in the U.S. in birders per capita. It ties with West Virginia at 33 percent and is just behind Vermont.
Bill Lamon is an avid birder and president of the Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes. He's one of more than 1.6 million birders statewide.
"I really became a bird watcher last year when I saw Sandhill Cranes doing their mating ritual," says Lamon. "When I saw that at Thunderlake Marsh, I thought there was something to be seen in bird watching."
Birders can go out to different hotspots like lakes or trails for their best chance to see certain kinds of birds. Since Wisconsin sits astride a major migratory pathway, it's home to one of the most diverse collection of birds in the country.
Lamon uses an app called iBird Pro to help him identify different birds. There are more than 400 species of birds found in Wisconsin.
But Lamon says you really only need one thing to become a birder.
"I've seen people use very expensive spotting scopes and photography equipment, which is also another branch of the birding experience, but a basic pair of binoculars is really all you need to get involved in the sport."
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home. The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round. Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too. "There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani. Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife. "There was no hesitation on our part when we felt the situation was deteriorating for this young boy," said Rick.
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