Many folk musicians are fond of naming their instruments. I was once asked what I had named mine. I answered "It doesn't make any difference what I call it, it won't come when I call it. I have to reach up and take it down off the wall to play it."
You may be wondering what any of this has to with bird carving. My point is that if you want to play any instrument well, you have to Practice, Practice, Practice - the same way one gets to Carnegie Hall, as the story goes.
So here is the take home point: if your goal is to carve decoys that will bring in live ducks, or to carve birds that will win awards at local or regional carving shows, or at the World Championship Show in Ocean City, Maryland, or that will sell well at galleries and bring you future commissions, you had better practice and practice your carving and painting skills. If you need to learn how to make bird feet and better habitat in order to compete at a higher level, get out to your shop and practice, practice, practice. Take carving and painting seminars if you have the opportunity. Make every bird a learning experience and do them better each time. All of us have made our share of bad carvings, but each time, try to learn from the experience. Don't be afraid to try something a little different, or to try a different bird. The same song gets boring if you just play it over and over and over again.