Text from an article in the Boulder Daily Camera, March 25, 1998, in Cool Gear of the Get Out section, "Multimedia Guide to Birds", by Lisa Marshall.
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Aspiring bird experts need not leave the house to get a close up look and listen at the state's feathered friends in action, thanks to an innovative CD-ROM hiiting the shelves this month.
One of an ever-growing list of field guides on CD-ROM, the two-volume "Better Birdwatching in Colorado," features maps, text, pictures, and audio and video clips of Colorado birds, all designed to give beginner birders the information they need to recognize species out in the field.
"It has pretty much been proven that if you hear and see something, you will remember it better than if you just read about it," said inventor Joseph LaFleur, 28, a long-time birdwatcher turned computer guru.
With a degree in biology from CSU under his belt, LaFleur set out six years ago with video and audio recorders to document the bird world as a hobby. When a fascination with "technical communication" landed him back in school, he decided to combine his two passions, birds and computers, and form his own business.
The fruits of his labor are impressive.
Rather than try to memorize a one dimensional image on a page to learn about ferruginous hawks, users of the CD-ROM set can listen to a bird call, view a close-up color picture, and watch the birdÕs motions as it flies away.
The video clips can be viewed frame by frame for those wanting a more detailed look at movements and markings. The program allows users to take notes, and to print them out for use in an outing.
A virtual bird quiz tests the studentÕs progress. A birding hotspots map helps the birder scope out area bird havens and plan upcoming trips.
The first CD covers 185 species, from loons, grebes and pelicans to vultures, hawks and falcons. The second is due out later this spring.
While the CD-ROM is not the first to focus on ornithology, it appears to be the only one to focus specifically on Colorado birds.
"A lot of people just want ot know what they're going to see around here," said LaFleur.
Ronald Ryder, a wildlife professor emeritus from CSU, calls the CD "a useful, interactive guide that will appeal to novice and advanced birders ... a valuable reference tool."
A CSU ornithology class will be using the CD as part of its lab this spring semester, and LaFleur said he will offer volume discounts for teachers wanting to use several CDs to teach a class.