Bob Spear, Master Woodcarver, turns 91!

Bob carving on his Florida porch.
Bob carving on his Florida porch. Photo ©2011 Gale Lawrence; used by permission.

Bob Spear, Master Woodcarver and Founding Director of the Birds of Vermont Museum, turns 91 on February 21st!

In 1979, he started a collection of bird carvings in hopes of someday establishing a location where people could come to see them and learn about birds. Bob is still carving and the Museum will open this spring with over 500 birds!

We like as many excuses for birthday cake as possible, so we plan to celebrate Bob’s birthday again in the summer when it is sunny and warm. Watch the Museum’s calendar of events for details.

Many people have already donated $91 to the Museum to honor Bob on his birthday. The Museum greatly appreciates these donations. For those wishing to make a donation in honor of Bob, please send a check to

Birds of Vermont Museum
900 Sherman Hollow Road
Huntington, VT 05462

Thank you!!

A Little History

Bob’s first carving was completed in 1938 when he carved a parakeet with just a penknife. This carving is on display at the Museum. He is also the author of the book, The Birds of Vermont, published in 1969 by the Green Mountain Audubon Society. In 1962 he was active in establishing the Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington and served as its first director for seven years. In 1987 the Birds of Vermont Museum opened, finally showcasing the collection he’d started in 1979. In addition to creating all the bird carvings on display, Spear also built the museum building and all the display cases. At the time of the opening, the museum housed only 231 bird carvings.

The length of time required for Spear to complete a carving varies widely, depending on the size of the bird. The Wild Turkey carving required 1,230 hours, while a small warbler might take only 20 hours. Can you identify the bird he’s working on above?

For more information about Bob’s accomplishments see http://www.birdsofvermont.org/carver.php

Identify the bird: Carving

Can you guess what bird Bob Spear will make from this block?  Hints may follow in later posts or comments, but please don’t let that keep you from sharing your ideas.

the Uncarved Block
the Uncarved Block

Northern Cardinal Carving Class

We are really looking forward to this coming Saturday’s carving class.  David Tuttle of the Green Mountain Woodcarvers will be teaching it, which means a great combination of experience and fun. He’ll provide the cardinal wood blank and eyes; the Museum will offer snacks and coffee. Northern Cardinal Carving Class at the Birds of Vermont MuseumThe cardinal can stand alone or become a holiday ornament (as in the picture). There’s still some time to pre-register! Call (802) 434-2167 or email us at museum@birdsofvermont.org; you can bring payment to the class or pay by phone. (Aside: do you think we should we enable PayPal?)

If you take this class, please bring your lunch and your own carving tools. Some carving tools may be for sale–let us know when you register. The fee is $25 for Birds of Vermont Museum members / $35 non-members.

Class starts at 9:00am and goes until 4:00pm. Best for older kids and adults, and beginners are welcome.

Come to the Fall Festival, Saturday October 9

Come to our Fall Festival Saturday, October 9, 2010Enjoy our Fall Festival with Woodcarvers — Live birds — Used Books/Garage Sale — Nature Journal Workshop — Insect Info — Birds!

Woodcarvers will be demonstrating their art in the workshop.
Carol Winfield returns with live birds at 11:00.
Find something wonderful at our Used Books/Garage Sale.
Heather Fitzgerald offers a Nature Journal Workshop.
Rhonda Mace from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture will answer questions about Invasive Insects.
Kids activities and games, nature walks.

Celebrate a great year!
Free!
Fun for Everyone!

Feeding hummingbirds in fall

I received a call today from a woman wondering what to do about hummingbirds. Two juvenile birds still come to her feeder, but she hasn’t seen the parents in some time. Should she take in the feeder? Is the food she provides keeping those young birds from migrating? Will they migrate without the parents? Are the parents still around, just not coming to her feeder?

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Female (woodcarving)
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Female (carved by Bob Spear)

I asked Bob Spear, since he’s got considerably more experience as a naturalist than I do–decades more.

“Leave it up,” he says. In fact, our hummingbird feeders are still up at the Museum and we saw a female ruby-throated hummingbird on Tuesday the 14th of September.  He tells us the males head south earlier than females and young ones, and he suspects that the female parent of the two juveniles is still nearby. Furthermore, migrating individuals from further north may stop at feeders on their way south (and in this week’s chilly rain, every bit helps). “It’s a myth,” he says, “that our feeders will keep them from migrating when it’s time for them to go.”

So enjoy your last glimpses of these little birds, glinting against the autumn leaves.

Early Morning Bird Walk

Shirley Johnson and Alison Wagner have been leading the Early Morning Birds Walks this spring. (Haven’t been on one yet? Come on Sundays at 7:00 a.m.; we will be doing these through June).  They post the birds the group observes on a white board here at the museum, and report some of the highlights to us over coffee.

Last week, Alison lead a group despite the snowy weather. Yes, they were successful, observing some dozen or so species.

Blackburnian Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler (carved by Bob Spear). One of the species identified on today's Early Morning Bird Walk.

Today, Shirley reported hearing two barred owls having a “party”, cackling and laughing back and forth to each other. She also said they’d heard a Louisiana Waterthrush, and compared the sounds of that species as recorded by the iFlyer and the Birding by Ear CDs.

Come along on our next trip! See http://www. birdsofvermont.org/ events.php for the schedule. There’s no fee, and coffee is provided.

Bob Spear turns 90!

Bob Spear, Master Woodcarver and Founding Director of the Birds of Vermont Museum, turned 90 on February 21st!

Bob’s first carving was completed in 1938 when he carved a parakeet with just a penknife. This carving is on display at the Museum. He is also the author of the book, The Birds of Vermont, published in 1969 by the Green Mountain Audubon Society. In 1979 he started creating a collection of bird carvings in hopes of someday establishing a location where people could come to see them and learn about birds. In 1982 he was active in establishing the Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington and served as its first director for seven years. In 1987 the Birds of Vermont Museum opened. In addition to creating all the bird carvings on display, Spear also built the museum building and all the display cases. At the time of the opening, the museum housed only 231 bird carvings.

Spear continued to carve more species of birds and the museum’s collection has since swelled to more than 486 carvings. The length of time required for Spear to complete a carving varies widely, depending on the size of the bird. Prior to completing a wild turkey carving, which required 1,230 hours, Spear’s carving of a California condor had held the honor of having required the most hours to complete (500 hours). Bob continues to carve for the Museum and recently completed two shorebirds for the Wetland Diorama.

For more information about Bob’s accomplishments see http://www.birdsofvermont.org/carver.php

Many people have already donated $90 to the Museum to honor Bob on his birthday. The Museum greatly appreciates these donations. For those wishing to make a donation in honor of Bob please send a check to Birds of Vermont Museum, 900 Sherman hollow Road, Huntington, VT 05462. Thank you!!

Four Birds for the Wetland Dioramas

In the past few months, Bob completed four new birds: the Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Pied-Billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus), and Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis).

He will be taking a break from carving to work on the Fall Wetland Diorama.

More details and photographs are available in our January 2009 newsletter, which is mailed directly to members. Non-members may print copies from our website.