18,000 Different Varieties

By: Tom Huntington

One of the fun things about editing a magazine is that every issue is different. You don’t just stamp out widgets on a production line. The magazine’s basic framework is going to remain the same—obviously bird carving will be the centerpiece—but the pieces change every time. It keeps things interesting.

Well, there are thousands of bird species out there to cover. In fact, last year the American Museum of Natural History issued a study that doubled the estimated number of bird species in the world, to 18,000. That means we won’t be running out of subjects anytime soon, especially if carvers seek inspiration in species from outside North America—the way Brad Snodgrass has with the ringed teal he completes in this issue.

I saw a great example of carving diversity this fall when I made my annual pilgrimage to the Easton Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland. Many of the country’s top carvers were there and I saw amazing work by magazine contributors Al Jordan, Doug Mason, Glenn McMurdo, Tom Baldwin, and others. Jeff Rechin was there, too, and he brought along the kingfisher that he carved and painted for the demonstration that begins in this issue. I saw ducks, geese, hummingbirds, owls, hawks, and even a blue-footed booby. Tom Horn had his usual collection of colorful tropical birds, and Gerald Painter’s miniatures featured all sorts of different species, from here and abroad. Seeing all this work really gave me an appreciation for avian diversity, and especially for the people who capture it in wood. You can see some pictures and videos of their work in the news section on wildfowl-carving.com.

Ah, the wonders of the Internet! That’s something we didn’t have when this magazine launched in 1985. Now we do, and it helps us out this issue. Rather than repeat Jerry Simchuk’s leaf- and feet-making articles from previous demonstrations as part of his scrub jay series, we’ve posted those articles on the web. You can peruse them online (or print them out) if you need them, while we have more room in the printed version for the new stuff. It’s the best of the old and the new!

You can find Jerry Simchuk’s articles here: Branching Out and The Rock.


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