Kevin J. Colver is one doctor not likely to hit a birdie on his day off.
Colver, an internist, is more apt to be spend his free time crouching on an oak-covered hillside with a microphone trying to record the chirp of a bird.One of the few natural-sound recordists in the Intermountain West, Colver recently released his first compact disc, "Songbirds of the Rocky Mountain Foothills."
"I wasn't really interested in birds until I did a residency in Southern California," he said. "You get kind of nature-starved down there."
Colver, 38, noticed bird songs while jogging through the woods one spring morning in 1989. Keeping his eyes on the dirt road to avoid rocks and ruts, he discovered that birds were easily located and identified by ear as they sang from dense vegetation. When a search for a tape of the local birds proved fruitless, he decided to make his own.
Recording bird songs allows Colver to combine his background in music with his knowledge of biology.
He also took a nature-sound recording class in the Sierra Nevada mountains sponsored by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Cornell University has the world's largest collection of nature recordings.
"I'm really in tune to the sounds of nature. I just really wanted to share it," he said.
Colver's first recording features the songs of 33 birds such as the common nighthawk, American robin and yellow-breasted chat.
Most were recorded in Diamond Fork Canyon near Spanish Fork. The cuts on the CD range from 30 seconds to three minutes.
Obtaining and assembling the recordings is a painstaking process. Colver camouflages himself and sneaks through forests and deserts with his long-range parabolic microphone, trying to capture birds on tape.
"You might get one or two good cuts in an eight-hour day," he said.
Colver says he can identify birds by their songs while walking through the woods blindfolded. "With repeated listening, I've learned to recognize the songs of various species just as I would recognize the voice of an old friend," he said.
Colver has plans to make nine more CDs, which cost him $4,500 to produce 1,000 copies, featuring birds from the Florida Everglades to Alaska. While the recordings attract mostly birders, it might also appeal to other audiences.
"People in the city are really looking for a way to escape and get back to nature," Colver said.