For Joe LaFleur, birdwatching means a lot of time on the road.
LaFleur, 42, spends several months out of the year traveling the country collecting video and audio recordings of birds. He organizes the recordings by state or region and releases them on DVD. He has released 34 so far.
His most recent DVD is called “Better Birdwatching in Kentucky and Tennessee,” and it provides images and sounds of 146 birds that are common in the two states. In selecting birds for the DVD, LaFleur gave priority to residential birds and summer breeders. He also included wintering birds as well as migrants that pass through in the spring and fall.
LaFleur said the DVD is meant to help amateur birdwatchers learn the appearances and sounds of certain birds.
“For beginners, it is hard for them to start learning about birds because they get overwhelmed with too much information,” LaFleur said. “They might not even know where to start looking and (the DVD) narrows it down to the most common birds.”
The DVD runs for two hours with anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes dedicated to each bird. There is no narration on the disc, and LaFleur suggests viewing it with a field guide or bird book in hand. He thinks of the DVD as a companion tool more than an absolute guide to birdwatching.
“(The DVD) is providing looks at birds, like how they look in the real world,” he said. “You see bird behaviors, like how some birds puff out their tails. You aren’t going to get that out of a book, those behavioral aspects.”
LaFleur has degrees in wildlife biology and communications from Colorado State University. He said he always enjoyed camping and hiking as a kid, and started birdwatching after he took an ornithology class in college.
“I had a really good professor who took us out on field trips and he could identify (birds) by sights and sounds,” he said. “I was impressed by that and that kind of got me hooked into it.”
LaFleur has been collecting bird recordings for the past 20 years and now has more than 100 hours worth. He started putting out DVDs a decade ago while also working various day jobs. In 2009, he started running his DVD business full time.
LaFleur lives in Mineral Bluff, Ga., about 10 miles from the Tennessee border. He also travels the country lecturing on birdwatching and leading bird programs.
“I wanted to travel more because it has been a great way to meet people and introduce them to birding,” he said. “We have bird walks where we actually go out and look at birds and try to identify them hands on. That is always great for people to have an expert there helping them learn.”
The DVD costs $19.99 and is available through LaFleur’s website, www.betterbirdwatching.com.
Land Between the Lakes is offering eagle-viewing van tours and cruises throughout January and February. Other programs on winter migrants to LBL are also being offered. For a full schedule of events, visit www.lbl.org.
REACH DENNIS O’NEIL at 270-887-3237 or email@example.com.