Butterball – a decorative and a flyer
When I was probably 4, I remember a particular Drake Bufflehead. Actually, I first learned this species as Butterball. My Dad did not shoot Butterball very often. When he was gunning from his scooter – open bay – Broadbill was his focus. Nevertheless, he must have taken a Butterball one day. We had a small, wooden flatbed trailer – useful for hauling gunning boats. (I only recently learned that the flatbed had once been a small camping trailer – also wooden, of course.) All by itself on the deck was a perfect Butterball. (To this day, I take care of birds even once they are dead – and I must have learned this habit – borne of respect for our quarry – from my Dad without it ever being said. No tangled pile of wet and bedraggled birds – each must be treated well until it was cleaned.) The image 55+ years on remains rich. The wings were folded and in place, the pure white breast was full and perfect, the tail fanned gently beneath those wonderful pink feet. But, of course, it was the head that really caught my attention. The iridescent rainbow glowing all across that “black” headdress astonished – and it changed as I turned it slowly in my hands. And, the purest white flag streaming back from the eye just intensified the beauty.
I have carved only a few of this species – I have used the same pattern each time and just play around with slight variations to the contours and paint shapes.
I did carve another Bufflehead/Butterball this past winter (2013). One of the many talented members of duckboats.net is Dick Sargeant of Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is a very skilled photographer and frequently posts wonderful images of flying birds. His image of a flying Drake led me to carve a half-size flyer using the same posture he had captured.
This Butterball now zips along (in one place….) beneath the rafters of our family camp on the shores of Lake Champlain. He will be joined by others of the web-footed tribe as time and inspiration permit.