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 February 1, 1998

Exec’s hobby is for the birds

It˜s not unusual for Dick Maxfield of Greeley, president of Maxfield Services Corp., to pull off the road on business trips to Fort Morgan, open his briefcase and pull out his binoculars to observe a hawk or other raptor on a power pole.
"Whenever I travel, I always observe what˜s going on out there, especially when I˜m in different regions," he said.
In addition to his binoculars and field guide, Maxfield dictates notes on a tape recorder to later input into a computer program.
"Anyplace you go will have birds, even downtown New York City," he said.
And that˜s the beauty of birding. This recreational pursuit is now one of the most popular hobbies around, and the number of people who enjoy watching birds continues to grow, said Gretchen Cutts of Greeley, newsletter editor for the Platte and Prairie Audubon Society, which covers Weld, Morgan and Logan counties.
"You can do it anywhere you are with any amount of time you have," Cutts noted. "You can do it alone, you can do it with family or you can find like-minded people. Plus, you can do it at any financial level."
About 25 million people will take one trip — ranging from a day trip to a cruise around South America — solely to watch birds, Cutts said.
In Northern Colorado, favorite birding spots include Glenmere Park in Greeley and City Park in Fort Collins, as well as much of the South Platte drainage system, and Latham and Riverside reservoirs in Weld County. The Poudre Trail in Fort Collins and Windsor are good sites, as are Barr Lake and Crow Valley Recreation Center near Briggsdale. But you don˜t have to go anywhere. A birdfeeder at home or outside your office window can provide hours of enjoyment — five minutes here, 10 minutes there.
Two things avid birders are not without — wherever they watch birds — are a pair of good binoculars and a field guide. Cutts says seven to eight magnification is a good starting point for binoculars, but the real key is to make sure they can be held steady. Most birders have several field guides but ultimately choose one as a favorite. Cutts carries Petersons Field Guide, which features paintings of birds with field marks, while Maxfield chooses the National Geographic North American Guide to Birds.
Many birders keep lists of the birds they see, and some become very competitive about it.
"You can have big days, big weeks, big months, big years," Cutts said.
Maxfield noted that there are 906 species of birds in North America and about 9,000 internationally. The Colorado checklist has 406 species. Of those, Maxfield has 250 species on his life list. His most thrilling experience, he said, was when he checked out the cobirds Web site and saw that a rare tufted duck was spotted at what many call Walden Ponds near Boulder. He called a friend and with his grandson in tow, hightailed it to Boulder the next day. They were among several observing the wild Eurasian duck and helped to document its visit to this state.
A wealth of information is available to those interested in birding. The Internet has thousands of sites, but Maxfield suggests starting with gorp.com, which has several links to other sites, and americanbirding.org. Cobirds also has a good Web site. Information about getting online is available at cobirds@lists.colorado.edu.
Numerous birding organizations also provide information and camaraderie. A good place to start is with your local chapter of the Audubon Society.
"Any place is a good place to start," Cutts said. "Once you start, one thing leads to another, and that leads to five others."

It˜s not unusual for Dick Maxfield of Greeley, president of Maxfield Services Corp., to pull off the road on business trips to Fort Morgan, open his briefcase and pull out his binoculars to observe a hawk or other raptor on a power pole.
"Whenever I travel, I always observe what˜s going on out there, especially when I˜m in different regions," he said.
In addition to his binoculars and field guide, Maxfield dictates notes on a tape recorder to later input into a computer program.
"Anyplace you go will have birds, even downtown New York City," he said.
And that˜s…

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