Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Canadian National Wildfowl Carving Championship

20 March 2016

     Accompanied by our good friends John and Geraldine Sanderson, Miriam and I attended the Canadian National Wildfowl Carving Championships. What a wonderful event! It will be on my calendar each year henceforth. It was amazing to discover people that we knew exhibiting their works at the very highest level.
     This Northern Pintail captures every detail of the bird in such lifelike fashion.

     The only minor irritation that I had was that people who had taken such care, and had demonstrated such incredible skill, didn't take the time to ensure that their work was correctly labelled. The formal name of this bird is Northern Pintail, not Pintail. 
     At the risk of being curmudgeonly I will point out a few other glaring errors as I show you more of the carvings.
     The following two representations of waterfowl are, I think you will agree, spectacular.

     The name should read Green-winged Teal, not Green-Winged Teal.

    This Belted Kingfisher, was especially charming, and bear in mind that, at this level, every component has to be carved. No natural materials are allowed.

     The following bird is labelled incorrectly as a drake; it is clearly a female Hooded Merganser; again exquisitely done with attention to detail, and carved and painted to perfection. Surely it is not too much to expect that it should be identified correctly.

     This Short-eared Owl was the most stunning carving of all in my opinion, and judging from the comments of many, I was not alone. The bird was truly lifelike. The feathers had been carved with such delicacy it was easy to believe they were real; one almost felt like sleeking them down.

     Once again the name is incorrectly spelled. It is Short-eared Owl and not Short-Eared Owl.
     Among the other carvings of raptors, these two really stood out.

Northern Goshawk - Male

Peregrine Falcon

     I am not sure whether Wood Thrush was a required component in one of the categories, but several carvers had tackled this species with incredible results.

     It bears repeating that everything has to be created by the carver. Aside from the bird the work is incredible, with amazing life-like detail.
     Miriam and I will soon be making a trip to Cuba, and one of the birds we most hope to see is the endemic Cuban Tody, rendered here so beautifully.

     Jim Lackenbauer, a member of Waterloo Region Nature, is a renowned collector of original decoys and has a stunning collection. Here are a few of them on display at the show. Duck decoys are a uniquely North American art form - art form now, I should say; their initial purpose was totally utilitarian.

     Waterfowl were prominent among the exhibits, perhaps recalling the original practice of carving decoys for hunters.

     The White-winged Scoter above is incorrectly spelled.

Ring-necked Duck - female

Common Goldeneye - female
     A competition takes place at the show, where carvers are given two hours to produce the head of a duck, in this case a Ruddy Duck. Their results are then judged and a winner is selected.

     Attention is paid to the jizz of the bird, whether the bill shape of the species has been captured faithfully, the contour of the head has to be correct, and so on. The degree of completeness is also taken into account. 
     It was interesting to hear the judges' (all renowned carvers) give their rationale for selecting first, second and third place.
     This show would make a fine addition to any birder's year. I certainly intend to make it regular event for us.


  1. A beautiful display of wildfowl carving. The carvers are so talented and gifted.

  2. Hello David, as you know I was away but now I have time to look at your photos and read your blogs. It is indeed amazing what people are capable of with carving these birds in wood. Stunning. I personaly prefer the Peregrine Falcon.
    I can see that is is still very cold where you live. But Spring is on its way.

  3. Wow what great workmanship. The Short-eared Owl is amazing and I have a very soft spot for Peregrine Falcons so that is also at the top of my list. Spelling is a hobby of my husbands, he finds spelling mistakes in everything, especially on the TV. I have to admit that I do not spell well, but I agree in a competition the names should be spelt correctly.
    Great post, thanks for sharing Diane

  4. Hi David. It is amazing birds. Wonderful professionals who have made the birds.

  5. Hi David, Wow what wonderful carvings, after looking at the the Pintail I was going to comment how good it was but you really can't pick out the best, it would be unfair, mind the Owl is good All the best \john

  6. These are beautiful works of art, we are all agreed. I just think that the incorrect spelling of the bird names is not primarily due to the participants.
    It seems that the cards are printed by the organizing club and that this happened from a single administration.
    Even if the participant gets the name wrong on his application form, then the organization should change it from their records. Not everyone has the knowledge to write all the names perfectly. The fact that you appointed these annoying errors I find admirable and of course your photos are beautiful!
    Gr Jan W

  7. Hello David!:) What an interesting event. They are all amazing carvings, with such fine detail and colouring, that some look incredibly life-like,particularly the Short-eared Owl and Northern Goshawk, but there are many that stand out, all credit to the skilfull artists who must have spent hours carving their exhibits.
    Regards Sonjia.

  8. It's sublim David, what a great job ! I'm in admiration. I would like them in my home ;-))

  9. The Ring Necked Duck is very lifelike!

  10. Dearest David,
    That for sure is an incredible art by so many different artists. So this is a nationwide contest with people attending from all provinces? That is quite a happening and very worthwhile indeed to attend annually.
    You are rather harsh on judging some words spelled in upper case instead of lower case. I don't see a problem with that as it is used as a title and that can be entirely in upper case or the way it's done here.
    If you are writing a scientific story than you should adhere in the text below the title, to the correct name spelling.
    As for you yourself, you did not adhere to international standards of writing because you so often are describing something that is viewed below your text... Confusing, especially with this kind of descriptions.
    But since you don't publish, outside your blog, we will let you get by with it!
    Hope you enjoy a lovely Easter weekend; you got also Easter Monday isn't it?!
    Sending you hugs,

    1. It is blatantly incorrect and unworthy of a National Championship. I had a great Easter - I was in Cuba birding.

  11. Oh my goodness, how clever as these people. I do like that owl, so real.

  12. Hi David.

    This is truly art.
    What this is all made beautiful.


    Groettie from Patricia.

  13. Delightful sight,wonderful display of Art,my bank account would suffer if I went to this show.

  14. Hello David,
    What is this exquisitely made by the participants.
    True works of art have become.
    A good Easter weekend.

  15. Hi David, What a super visit you must have had, I have nothing but admiration for such talented people, well done with the images, favourite the Shortie. Regards John

  16. My gosh, I expected a few of those to fly right off the screen, they are so incredibly realistic. What amazing talent and what beauty on display. Appreciate your shares.

  17. That's a fine collection of decoy carvings, David. I guess that the labelling errors were perpetrated by the organisers, rather than the carvers, as all the labels are clearly from the same stable. Incidentally, as you probably know, in UK that first duck is known as just plain 'Pintail'

    I hope that you are having (probably 'had' by the time you read this!) a great time in Cuba.

    Best wishes to you both - - Richard

  18. Those are truly remarkable carvings. Even more so for one whose artistic skills are zero. My personal favourite would have to be the Wood Thrush but I might change were i to see them all "live".

  19. Remarkable carving - with that level of skill, I can forgive the odd capital letter going astray.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  20. Well done and sincere congratulations to all the artists!!
    Thanks for this lovely post, David :)
    Now, where id the pond to set all these beauties??! LOL!!!

    As for "Short-eared Owl", personally I would write owl with a small o since it is a common name and we get several species of owls... But that's just my own logic!! But 'eared' must indeed be written with a small e!

    Warm hugs to share with Miriam!

  21. Hi David,
    what fun to see all these beautiful species of ducks. The Thrush is great and has its beak wide open (it looks like me whahahahahahaha ......). should be able to make it that way. Really great!
    Thnx voor sharring.

  22. Cuba, eh?!!
    so that's where you 'disappeared'??!!
    Must be magic, I believe!
    One day I will have to make a plan to meet up with you in some exotic place...
    I still regret so very much CR...
    Huge hugs to share with Lady Miriam :)

  23. Hello David, still can not see your blog of Cuba?

  24. There was me looking for the Trip Report via Google + and it “doesn’t exist”.

    The mystery deepens. Also, I note that you were in Cuba when US President Obama was also a special guest of the Cuban people. Was this mere coincidence or as I heard on the birder’s grapevine, you had been specially commissioned to be the President’s right hand man and guide during his Cuban birding adventures?

    1. I am still working on the Cuban trip report. A couple of times I mistakenly hit "Publish" instead of "Save." I took it down again right away, but I guess it briefly shows up as a new post. I've replied on your blog too in case you don't see this one.