By Joel van der Veen
CRAIK — Each one starts as a humble block of tupelo wood.
The body and features are carved with care before the finishing touches — glass eyes and paint — are added.
Each bird has a unique posture or “attitude” that the carver needs to capture in his or her work. If they’ve done that properly, Austin Eade said, a trained eye can identify the bird even before it’s painted.
“It’s a connection to nature,” he explained. “If you can’t identify the bird or the subject before you paint it, you didn’t capture the essence of the bird.”
Eade, 73, has strengthened that connection over the past decade as he has pursued his woodcarving hobby.
In that time, he has completed roughly 30 birds. He works on them over the winter months, finishing two or three in an average season.
Eade, a longtime Craik resident, recently won awards for his work at a pair of competitions, including an international show in the U.S.
He had two entries in the Prairie Canada Carvers Show and Competition, held April 22 and 23 in Winnipeg.
There, his female pine grosbeak won best of show at the open level, while his bufflehead drake also placed first in its category.
A week later, he had the same two pieces entered in the Ward World Championship, held in Ocean City, Maryland from April 28 to 30.
The grosbeak won Best in Category (songbirds), outranking other entries from Canada, the U.S. and the U.K, while the bufflehead was a runner-up for Best in Species.
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