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Birds in Wood

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Jim Maas lives in Morgan, Vermont -- surrounded by all types of birds. "I'm not a birder," he admits.

They never really piqued his interest. "I never knew what a bird was until I started all this -- they were just those things in the bird feeder," Maas said. That was until those "things" became his models.  He carves birds from all over the world for his business Birds in Wood.

Most carvings start from a picture. Maas then researches the bird and draws a pattern before power carving the creature out of Tupelo Wood. Painting makes them come to life with their own attitude and story. "A lot of bird carvers carve a bird on a stick straight on. I don't have any of my birds with their heads straight ahead," he said. "They're more interesting, more life like -- they're more animated."

The business started as a hobby 15 years ago. Maas was an orthopedic surgeon and happened to come across a carving of a bird in a meeting.  He was instantly enthralled and started whittling wood.  He's retired now and doesn't miss the stress of being a surgeon, but says there are some similarities between the two. "To make a good bird you have to research, so it's a mental exercise every bit as being a surgeon. I have to know the anatomy, how long the wings are -- yada, yada, yada -- to get a bird that looks like a bird," he said.

His carvings range in price from $600 to $5,000. Maas says sometimes people are shocked by the price, but he doesn't make much money off of them since they can take months to make. He's sold 100 so far. "People will say, 'Oh bird carving, I'll pay $75.' I can't even get the wood for $75," he said.

But Maas doesn't mind, because creating Made in Vermont carved birds is his new stress free passion.

Reporter Gina Bullard: You'd never know you weren't into birds.

Jim Maas: Well, I wasn't. Now I am!"

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