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Interview with Bill Maynard

As I considered what to write about this month, it was suggested I interview an important person in the world of birding. Bill Maynard, the field program manager for the American Birding Association and a resident of Colorado Springs, fits the bill.Bill, who is now 57 years old, was trained as a botanist but his interests, which include plants and birds, are vast in the natural world. He is known among local birders for his encyclopedic knowledge of nature. People who have tough questions are referred to “Ask Mr. Bill.” Here are some answers about Mr. Bill.K.B: At what age did you become interested in birds?Mr. Bill: I started a little late in life. I was about 29 when I really became interested in birding.K.B.: What’s so great about birding?Mr. Bill: No matter where you travel, there are birds, and most of the time there are some that you have never seen before. Compared to other animals, birds are relatively easy to find and study. You can bird when you are young and when you are old. Even with limited mobility, you can find a spot to study birds. Every time you go into the field, there is a chance for discovery, even if it is a common bird exhibiting an uncommon behavior.K.B: You’ve been all over the world, what is your favorite bird(s)?Mr. Bill: I love the neotropics (Central and South America) and South America – the Bird Continent. You can go on the east slope of the Andes to the same spot for three days in a row and see new birds each day. I love the Ground Antbirds, and my favorite is the Crescent-faced Antpitta that I have only seen once in Ecuador. Tanagers and hummingbirds are right behind. It is possible to see 60 species of tanager in two weeks birding in Ecuador and 50 species of hummingbirds. Now that hummingbird feeders have become popular in the neotropics, at a good site you can see 20 species in a day, such as Tandayapa Lodge, Ecuador.K.B: How many countries have you been in while birding?Mr. Bill: I have been birding in 11 countries, all in the Americas.K.B: Can you describe one of your most memorable moments in birding?Mr. Bill: A friend had a contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to survey the migration of Ross’s Gulls at Barrow Alaska, and asked me if I wanted to come as a volunteer, if USFWS paid for my food and airfare. Who could say no? By the time the three weeks ended, I had seen approximately 3,000 Ross’s Gulls in all plumages and a single Ivory Gull as well, most of them only a few feet away. I will never forget that experience.K.B: How many species are on your life list?Mr. Bill: I had three birding goals, seeing 700 species in the ABA area, 400 species in Colorado and 2,000 species in South America. Currently, I have seen about 715 in the ABA area, about 415 in Colorado and about 2,050 in South America. Now I would like to see 350 species in El Paso County, and I am at 345 but it is getting very difficult to see new ones.K.B: What would you say to someone who might be interested in birding, but isn’t sure about diving into it?Mr. Bill: I would tell them birding is not for everyone, but if you like to get out of doors and view nature, birding might be for you. I would encourage them to look at birds through a spotting scope and ask them if they had ever seen anything quite that beautiful before.

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