Shorebird Bills

If you want durability, some assembly is required.

By: Text and photography by Del Herbert

I have a love for old decoys. I enjoy studying them to see the features that have stood the test of time—and those that have not. One concern about older shorebird decoys is the durability of their bills, which have been damaged or broken on many beautiful old birds. If we want our artwork to last for future collectors, we need to address this potential problem from the start.

I was always motivated to make sturdy bills for my shorebirds. In previous articles, I detailed how to make durable bills from hardwood dowels (see the Summer 2018 issue, for example). This covers the vast majority of my needs. However, every now and then I take on a project that requires more. The glossy ibis and long-billed curlew are examples. For these projects I laminate the bills from tapered slivers of basswood. The following steps will demonstrate this process.


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