How to Do Bird Taxidermy
The pain felt after losing a pet is unfathomable. However, they are ways to keep their memory alive forever. Taxidermy is an art practiced on the animals’ bodies by stuffing them so their owners can preserve and display their pets. Taxidermy has been around since prehistory and is commonly done in museums to preserve natural history. A person who practices this art is known as a taxidermist, and they are well familiar with anatomy, sculpture tanning, and painting. Taxidermy is done on pets like dogs, cats, birds, fish, and reptiles. Deciding to remember your beloved pet through taxidermy is a decision you can make by yourself or as a family to help you with the grieving process.
How is Bird Taxidermy Done?
Today, there are professional taxidermists dedicated to the care, preservation, and reconstruction of your bird. Of course, you can perform the art of taxidermy on small animals yourself, but why subject yourself to the whole process while grieving and some skilled professionals can get the job done.
The process involves several steps, which will include skinning, guts, and blood. Taxidermy is graphic and heavy, which may be sensitive for some individuals, be warned.
Step 1: Getting Supplies and Basic Tools
Gather the essential tools and supplies to use during the process. The standard tools include scalpel, cotton, zip ties, drill, blow-dryer, wire cutter, degreasing soap, borax, clay, t-pins, flat scraping tool, scissors, needle, knife, tweezers, cotton balls, firm thread, fresh dead bird, eyes, and head for the bird.
If you decide to do the procedure by yourself, understand some bird anatomy as it is crucial. However, instead of doing this by yourself, get help from well-trained professionals who are well skilled in the art of taxidermy.
Step 2: Prepare for Dissection
After the work tools are ready and the working space is well set, it’s time to make the first significant incision. The incision runs from the top of the breastbone run through the bird’s center down to the pelvis. Make a clean-cut part of the feathers with your hands, as that will help make the incision. At this point, try as much as you can to make the feathers as dry as possible because if they get wet or soaked with blood, they get sticky.
Step 3: Skin Removal
Working with the incision you’ve made, start peeling the skin off the bird gently with your fingers. You can opt to use a scalpel, but your fingers will do fine. On each side, peel the skin towards the wing and away from the lower membranes. The bird has to be freshly dead to make the peeling process simpler. Be careful not to get the feathers wet when adding water to the skin to make it damp.
When you get to the tail, wiggle it up and down till you can feel where it bends near the hips. Once you can feel the bend cut through the arch but be careful not to cut far through the skin on the other side. At this point, you have separated the tail from the body now work down the backside. Next, work on the thighs and remove the skin by separating the legs from the body. Before working on the neck, skin the head first to make work easy.
Step 4: Skinning the Head
At this point, you have worked on the whole body but the head. When working on the head, grab the neck making sure you are only holding the skin, and snip the neck without cutting the skin. On what’s left hanging, insert tweezers carefully into the head and pull out the brains bit by bit. While at it, remove the eyes as you will replace them with fake ones. Also, be cautious of the fat in the inner membrane but creating a hole at the inner membrane will help you avoid the fat and keep the inner membrane intact.
Step 5: Wings
As for the wings, follow the same procedure you did with the legs. Pull the wing bone outwards and begin skinning down the elbow. Work your way around the elbow to the bottom part, where it connects to the feather quills. Snip or break the wings off and leave them with the skin to dry. When done, clean the meat out of the legs and wings and leave at least one tendon on each side connected to the bones.
Step 6: Preservation
When the skin is laid out and all the excess meat is scraped off, sprinkle some borax, cornstarch, or salt inside the body. This will help to ensure absorbency and disinfect the body of the bird. Wash the nasty stuff like dirt and feces with soap and water. Let the bird sit for at least 72 hours in a moisture-free environment. How you leave the tail feathers at this point is how they dry. If they spread out, they remain spread out. Once it’s dry, make the feathers look great by fluffing them up.
Step 7: Fix the Mistakes
Before stuffing the bird:
- Correct the mistakes made during the skinning process.
- Sew up any holes made before using cotton balls mashed up together to form the basic shape.
- While stuffing, pay attention to the size, shape, and type of bird.
- When working on the neck, stuff it in a slim way to fit a standard bird shape.
Step 8: Wiring
Wiring is an essential step in making amateur wings, legs, and bones. First, position the wings as you would prefer, cut a few inches of the thick wire, and wrap around the cotton and thread. Next, wrap a thin wire around the bones of the legs and ensure it’s well secured. When working on the portion, stick the wire through the toes to prevent them from scrunching up.
Step 9: Making an Amateur
First, using a thick wire stick the head and utilizing another wad work on the neck, keeping it long and skinny. Ensure the neck and head are well fitted to prevent the bird from flopping around. Use more or fewer cotton balls depending on your preference and make a complete body amateur. Secure the stuffing tightly with thick wire to reduce resistance, sew the body, and stitch in the edge of the skin.
Step 10: Final Touches
Fix anything that seems out of place. The painting should include a darker color under the eyes and a slightly darker one on the feet and beak. Use different shadings and make the bird look life-like. Attach the eyes on both sides and ensure you choose the right color that makes the bird look real. At this point, the work is done, and your bird is ready for display.