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Retired biologist from Cape Girardeau takes life-long hobby to new heights during pandemic

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 5:11 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - He’s using his love of birds to help Missouri conservationist learn more about the state.

“We wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun.”

Dr. Bill Eddleman is talking about the patient process of birding. He searches the skies above Cape Girardeau County, looking to identify the different birds flying overhead.

It’s a hobby that started when he was a kid.

“I wanted to be a wildlife biologist, so I started here, and I took Paul High ornithology class when I was a sophomore, and many older people still remember Mr. High and he got me really interested in birds and really that’s been my preference ever since,” said Eddleman.

Right now, Eddleman is working with other birders across Missouri on what they call a Big Year Challenge. The goal is to log as many species of birds as possible before the end of the year.

“I’m trying Cape County alone, and because we don’t have that many wetlands in Cape County anymore, my goal is 220. I don’t know if I’ll get there or not right now, I’m sitting at 179,” Eddleman said.

Eddleman said he logs the species he finds on EBird, an app created by Cornell University. It’s used by birders across the county to track and log the birds they find.

In fact, he’s so aware of the sights and sounds around him, even our interview didn’t stop his work.

“That was a fish crow… it gets me outside, it gets me away from the house. It was something to do during COVID because I wasn’t able to do a lot of other things,” said Eddleman.

With tracking birds in this area, Eddleman said its really helpful to be familiar with the bird population to know what’s going on.

“It’s a way to contribute to conservation, the fact that we are contributing to a system that is used to monitor birds is going to help conservation out in the future,” Eddleman said.

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