A Bird Is A Word In An Art Form

 In Back In The Day, Coastal Life, OBX Nature, Pets & Wildlife, Sports and Outdoors
bird decoys outer banks

The Birdstore. A delightful orinthological nest of an Outer Banks retail store, found at Milepost 8.5 on the 158 Bypass in Kill Devil Hills. The Bird Store has been a destination for the Outer Banks’ retail market for 35 years, offering a variety of bird-related art of every form and fashion (see gallery below), from wall prints and paintings to statuary, carvings to sculpture, and even the treasures of antique, carved, wooden decoys from centuries past.

Proprietors Philip and Susan Harvey founded this unique, all-things-aviary sanctuary some thirty-five years ago based on Harvey’s collecting love and instincts for old, original, working wooden decoys. The rest has blossomed from the couple’s mutual enthusiasm. Additions of objet d’art lighthouses, coastal-related items, and sea creatures enhance the offerings, providing their happy customers with the perfect gift or memory of their Outer Banks experience.

philip harvey obx birdstore

As many locals and visitors of these Outer Banks know, we are blessed to be the migratorial home for numerous species of birds and fowl. The decoy carvings found here were created to aid in hunting birds for food, and then, for sport. And so it goes, from a utilitarian creation to an admired art form. Simply speaking with Philip Harvey reveals his enthusiasm and knowledge of the wooden duck/fowl decoy as a coveted American folk-art form to be treasured, admired, and honored. The art form has thrived along our East Coast from South Carolina to Nova Scotia for the last several centuries. And it still thrives with a new generation of carvers who patiently master the skills needed to fool a duck into landing close by.

How do you know you’ve found a genuine collector? You can hear the smile in their voice when they speak of their coveted items. Philip Harvey had that smile in his voice when speaking of decoys. Unmistakable! He’s so much a passionate enthusiast that he and colleague, Kroghie Andreasen, wrote and published Shore Birds: Decoys of North Carolina. (Now out of print, so check used outlets.)

shorebird decoys of north carolina

I have a friend in the Midwest who is a decoy collector and shared with me some advice for prospective collectors:  look for form and surface; it should reek of quality, and it doesn’t even need a name on it; the keys to a great decoy are condition, restoration, attribution, rarity, aesthetic value, provenance (origin), and popularity. In essence, the old adage of buying something you love from a trusted source are good words to collect by.

Philip Harvey is an outstanding decoy resource for the Outer Banks. Find your special piece of bird or wildlife art at The Birdstore.

Rebecca Orr
Author: Rebecca Orr

Rebecca is a recent Iowa transplant to the Outer Banks and spends her days enjoying the beach and seafood, and her nights contemplating the sea and the stars. It has been her long-held dream to be a writer.

  • Judith Matlock

    We would love to place an order on line or when we’ te back on the coast in October. We were disappointed that the store was not open the last few days.

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