The Collection

The Collection at the Birds of Vermont Museum BOVM Home Page


In 1938, when Bob Spear was 18 years old, a stray parakeet flew into the woodshed on their Colchester, Vermont, farm and became the model for his first wood carving. He carved regularly for the rest of his 94 years. By 2009, he had carved over 470 birds specifically for the Birds of Vermont Museum. Totally self-taught, Bob tackled each bird species and its unique set of carving problems. With each bird he improved his technique of portraying fine details of feathering. Earlier bird carvings show a beauty in their simplicity, and a progression of more intricate detailing can be traced with later works, until the most recent ones that show an unbelievable realism, to the point of wanting to touch to ascertain if the feathers are real. Many visitors can be heard to question “This is wood?

A few from the collection Blue Jay on nest with egg Gyrfalcon hunting duck American Robin on nest Green Heron in reeds California Condor

Birds by Habitat

The collection of carvings is arranged in groups by habitat settings.

Wetlands in Spring and Fall

Downstairs at the main entrance is a loon family that took 850 hours to carve and paint. Follow the hall into two Wetland Dioramas, a Spring Migration scene and an Autumn Migration scene, both still in progress. This part of the collection holds more 63 ducks and shorebirds. Ingrid Rhind, Dick Allen, and other carvers continue to contribute to these dioramas. Acclaimed artist Libby Davidson painted these diorama backgrounds.

Endangered and Extinct

Across the hall from the Spring Migration is a special gallery of Endangered and Extinct Birds of North America. There are 29 birds and an Achaeopteryx. A tropical scene with 11 birds also represents the winter habitats of more than 50% of our own Vermont birds. The California Condor is one of Bob's largest carvings, taking over 500 hours in all. This more recent bird is so realistically detailed that each wing took 100 hours to make.

The Tom

Just down the hall from the Endangered and Extinct Gallery, and before you reach either the conference room or the Fall Migration diorama, you will find the glorious tom Turkey. This life-like carving, a testament to persistence, took Bob 2 years to complete, 1300 hours in all.

Nesting Birds and Raptors

The main gallery (upstairs) has all the Vermont nesting birds in pairs, with their nests (real) and eggs (wooden) in the habitats typical of each bird species, in over 120 free-standing cases. Notice the leaves: all the broadleaf trees have metal leaves, painstaking cut, tooled, and painted.

Hanging from the ceiling are Vermont’s hawks in flight, life-size, and showing the coloring and feather patterns that distinguish the raptors from one another.

On one side of the main gallery is a Winter Diorama (on the right as you enter) showing the birds likely to visit Vermont only in winter, and only in years when their food supplies up north have dwindled.

On the balcony is another raptor exhibit showing hawks with typical prey. The Bald Eagle took Bob 400 hours to complete, because of the large size and in particular because the brown color on the bird is burned with a hand tool, rather than painted.

Still more to come

We continue to expand the collection, with some 50 additional birds planned to complete the collection of Vermont birds. When this is finished, perhaps we will seek carvings of Vermont’s butterflies, all 100 of them. Bob dreamed to doing this; he finished a prototype, detailing the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail. The carving contains two male and one female butterfly, the chysalis, the caterpillar, and the egg, all attached to its favorite host plant, the lilac. All are carved out of wood.

900 Sherman Hollow Road, Huntington, VT 05462 ~~ (802) 434-2167 ~~ E-mail