Burr Style Piping Plover

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Project Description

“Burr” Style Piping Clover


This diminutive little bird is a reproduction of a decoy that I saw for the first time in an early decoy auction catalog, listed as “maker unknown.” About 25 years ago, on a visit to Cape Cod to research and photograph decoys for a miniature project I was working on, I visited my friends Judy and Ted Harmon. Walking into their house was like walking into a museum of the some of the greatest New England decoys I had ever seen in person. To sit on the sofa, I had to move gorgeous Elmer Crowell Mergansers. To walk up the stairs to the second floor I had to step over Crowell and Joe Lincoln geese. There was barely room to eat lunch in the dining room with all the duck and shorebird decoys on the table. I thought I had died and gone to decoy heaven!

Ted and Judy allowed me to photograph as many of their decoys as I wanted to. Ted even drove to his bank to retrieve a mint condition Joe Lincoln ‘Woodie’ from the vault. Since the project I was working on was only going to involve duck decoys, I did not photograph many of the Harmons’ shorebirds, but I was taken by this tiny little bird that I knew I had seen before. I mentioned to Ted that I was thinking about entering a painting of a shorebird in the Massachusetts Duck Stamp Competition. Ted assured me that this would make a winner. (It came in second place, but that’s another story.) He thought the bird was probably made by someone in the Burr family, possibly Russ or Elisha, of Hingham, Massachusetts, sometime around 1900. We’ll probably never know for sure, but in any event it is, as Ted says in his classic New England accent, a “winnah.”

I did the painting, which I still have, around 1982, and carved a small replica soon after. I gave it to my wife, Deb, who would not part with it, so I carved a couple more recently. This is a tiny bird, and will fit nicely in the palm of your hand. The shotgun shell in the photo will give you an idea of the size (About 5”). I have aged it just a little bit, and it has my initials carved under the tail. It comes with a wood stand.

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