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  1. This website is Dedicated to Educating Caregivers about the Physical, Emotional, Psychological, Intellectual and Nutritional Needs of the Parrots in their Lives. 

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Sally Blanchard's
Rare Hardwood Inlay Bird Sculptures

A Few Examples of Sally's Wood Sculptures -
There are no paints, dyes or stains used in these sculpures. Sally used the natural color, patterns and textures of the actual woods to recreate the bird's plumage. All of these sculptures have been sold and are in private collections.

Landing Canada Goose
Life-size Cedar
Waxwings with Berries

120 inlays of 22 different woods including:  Ebony, Purpleheart,
East Indian Rosewood, African Blackwood,  Beetle-kill Pine, Satinwood, English Harewood, Poplar, American Holly, Tuliptree, Teak -  Private Collection
Red-Breaster Nuthatch
and Black-capped Chickadee
Broken-wing Act
Canada Goose
9 inches long -  24 inlays of 12 different woods including: Ebony, East Indian Rosewood, African Whitewood, Brown Oak, Holly, Vicina, Ziricote  - Private Collection
 Eared Grebe
 Chickadee Discussion
Atlantic Puffin
Mallard Pair
 Mallard Duck
 Long-tailed Tit
 California Quail
Rufous-collared Sparrow
Funky Screech Owl
The Early Bird
 Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-necked Grebe
 Canvasback Duck

Life-size California Quail
54 inlays of 22 different woods including:  Bird's Eye Maple, Cocobolo, Gothic Oak, Ziricote, Babalama, Rewarewa, Black Walnut,
 English Harewood, Holly, and Queensland Walnut. Grasses: Sumac
 Private Collection

 Ring-necked Pheasant

 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

 Wood Duck - 54 Inlays

Life-size Downy Woodpeckers
with Black-capped Chickadee
141 inlays of 16 woods including:
Ebony, African Blackwood, East Indian Rosewood, American Holly, English Holly, Satinwood, Pink Ivorywood, Wenge, Beetle-kill Pine, Queensland Walnut, African Whitewood -  Private Collection

Yellow-throated Warblers
Life size - 60 inlays of 18
different woods including:
Satinwood, African Blackwood, Brazil Verawood, Poplar, Lignum Vitae, American Holly, Satinwood, Queensland Walnut, East Indian Rosewood, Sumac, Koa - Private Collection
 Hummingbird Altercation
Bobwhite Pair
 White-throated Sparrow
 Mallard with grasses
Barn Swallow
European Robin
Harris's Sparrow
Chickadee's with Dogwood
Snow Goose
American Redstart


For over twenty years, Sally Blanchard created bird sculptures using natural  hardwoods from around the world. She developed her unique technique of Rare Hardwood Inlay Bird Sculpture. First, Sally would study the bird she was planning extensively and make an intricate pattern of that bird's shape and plumage. The pattern pieces were then pasted to woods that had appropriate color and grain to simulate the natural plumage of the bird. Sally used all natural woods with no paint, dyes or stains. The appropriate shape was then cut with a band saw. Then each piece was sanded flat with a disc sander to join with the other woods. Often several pieces were sanded after joining so that other woods could be added to the joined pieces to create curves in plumage. It was a very complex process to make sure that all of the wood pieces with their proper color, grain and shape ended up in the right place as the sculpture progressed.

Although most sculptures contained less than 50 pieces, some of the more intricate sculptures contained well over 100 pieces. The complexity of joining the woods could be described as a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The trick was making sure all the pieces ended up in the right place. Once Sally put all the pieces together, she would use various tools to give proper shape to the bird. The beak and eyes were added before the final sanding. After the final sanding, the sculpture was oiled and waxed to accentuate the beauty of both the sculpture and the natural woods.   

The sandpper to the right is Sally's first bird carving. It was certainly simple when compared to her later sculptures but it was what got her started. During her wood sculpture career, Sally created over 1,200 pieces from single sitting hummingbirds to elaborate sculptures of a landing Canada Goose, a woodpecker pair being distracted by a chickadee, or a Killdeer doing her broken wing display. During this time, Sally carved over 1,500 different species of wood and became quite an expert of the characteristics of both the birds and the woods of the world. Over twenty years as a wood sculptor and Sally still has all of her fingers!

Her work was in great demand and was sold privately or at several art, wildlife art, and craft galleries throughout the United States.

One of Sally's career highlights was a one-woman show of her sculptures at the Fuertes Library at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in 1976. Her work was represented in arts and crafts galleries throughout the country.

The photograph to the left is of Roger Tory Peterson examining Sally's sculpture of a Bachman's Warbler (now thought to be extinct and one of very few North American birds that Peterson never observed). He was very enthusiastic about her work and remembered it when she met him again a few years later.  

Combining her love with birds with her artistic talents, Sally started doing her bird sculptures when she lived in Tucson, Arizona in 1968. Unfortunately, after sustaining a serious neck injury in an automobile accident in 1988, Sally was unable to continue her sculpture career. She had already been working extensively with parrots as a sideline and was eventually able to create her own niche educating people about their behavior and proper care.

(None of the sculptures shown are for sale. With the exception of the few sculptures she had left when she had to quit carving, all of Sally Blanchard's sculptures have been sold and are in private collections. The only way any of them could be purchased is on the secondary market. The Wood Duck shown to the right was owned by Wildlife artist Charles Harper - Sally's friend and all time favorite bird artist!)

Sally's Basic Process for
Creating one of her Unique
Rare Hardwood Inlay
Bird Sculptures

The first part of the process was to make a 2-D pattern and glue it on to the type, color, and grain of wood I wanted to use. Then using the pattern, I cut the wood pieces out and then systematically glued the woods together so that they would end up in the right place on the bird.

Trimming and shaping the glued woods with a Band Saw
Shaping with a Disc Sander

More shaping - I also used a 1" belt sander to round the bird
Further shaping with a grinder.
The beak was usually added after
this step
Fine shaping with a rasp
Once the bird is shaped with a rasp, I put
the eyes in one side at a time - usually using
3-4 different woods. Then I used sandpaper
from coarse to very fine. After this step the
bird was oiled and then placed on a
pre-prepared base unless it was a floater.
Rough-shaped Western Kingbird
After course sanding
Ready to oil and place on base.

Finished Western Kingbird

Some of Sally's
Favorite Bird Sculptures
Scarlet Tanager
The red wood is the very rare
Pink Ivorywood and the wings are African Blackwood.

Barn Swallows
The orange wood is Pink Peroba, the back
and tail are East Indian Rosewood and
the wing tips are Wenge.

Marsh Wrens
Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Wading American Avocet

Cardinal with Dogwood
 Hooded Merganser

Labrador Duck
Great Auk

Wilson's Phalarope


Ruddy Duck
Elf Owl
Black-capped Chickadee
with Dogwood
American Woodcock

Common Tody Flycatcher

Shoveler Duck

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black Skimmer

Pygmy Nuthatches


Sometimes I would assemble a large number of birds and then finish them one at at time. This was particularly true if I was getting ready for a show. This photo shows unfinished meadowlarks, bobwhites, several ducks and geese, wrens chickadees, hummingbirds, nuthatches, a scissortail, a cedar waxwing, a brown creeper,  a yellowthroat, two kinglets, a brown creeper, a white-throated sparrow, a phalarope
and a barn swallow.
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