Bird taxidermies make wonderful pieces of art for decorating your interior space, but they come at a price. However, if you are fond of game hunting, you can taxidermy your bird collection. In this post, we delve deeper into how you can taxidermy your waterfowls.
The word taxidermy refers to the process of converting live animals into inanimate objects for artistic display. The process applies to mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Taxidermy can also be used as a way of preserving the animal for study purposes or personal reasons such as preserving a beloved pet. Although taxidermy is best performed by a professional, you do not have to be one to do it. You can be a doctor, a veterinarian, or an avid hobbyist.
How to taxidermy a waterfowl
Despite the relative use of hunting waterfowls, they are quite fragile to taxidermy. This is because the delicate feathers, bones, and beak can be rendered unusable due to rough handling. Follow the below steps for an effective pre-taxidermy process:
- When bird hunting, your game is likely to be soiled by the blood. If allowed to dry, it becomes almost impossible to restore the plumage to its original state. Therefore, bring along a bottle of water, a ball of cotton wool, and a shallow dish. A small sable brush would also help in the cleaning.
- Once you shoot the waterfowl, retrieve it yourself to eliminate the chances of a dog damaging it.
- Stuff the place you’ve shot using cotton wool to avert further bleeding. Once the bleeding stops, use the water and brushed to clean the soiled feathers.
- The most effective way of preparing your waterfowl for the taxidermy process is by freezing it on a block of ice. Put your bird in a Ziploc bag, and freeze it solid. This prevents the feathers from bending as well as the bones or beak from breaking. It also prevents oxygen from pulling out moisture from your game’s feathers and skin. Tucking your waterfowl’s head under a wing prevents the head and neck from accidentally breaking as your game freezes.
Tip: Avoid wrapping the waterfowl with a newspaper as this will draw out moisture from your game resulting in freezer burning.
By preserving your game in a freezer, it could last as much as 8 months. However, plan to get it to your taxidermist as soon as possible. If you can present the bird to your taxidermist within the first 48-hours, you only need to keep it in a refrigerator.
Skinning your waterfowl
Begin by taking measurements of the bird so that you retain as much of its life-like appearance as possible. By ignoring to do this, you could under or overstuff it. Lay the bird on its back and locate its breastbone. Use a razor blade or a knife to make an incision from the breast to the anus. Avoid using slicing motions to prevent cutting the feathers or tearing the flesh. A sharp blade should be able to make a single, continuous incision. Use a ball of cotton wool to absorb all fluids using cotton wool to avoid soiling and disfiguring the feathers.
Begin skinning your waterfowl on either side of the incision. You can easily pry the skin from the body in the breast area. When skinning the area around the tail, ensure you do it in a way that leaves the tail quills intact. When you strip off the muscular portions of the legs, cut them off from the inside using a knife or a pair of scissors so that the feet are left attached to the skin. When skinning the wings, go as far as the elbow, taking care not to tear the skin or severing the bones.
Keep in mind that when working on the head, the eyes’ outer membrane should remain intact. Also, be careful not to break the delicate membrane that makes up the waterfowl’s ears. Rub the parts that could decay using arsenical soap or just arsenic to prevent decay.
Once the bird’s skin is separated, take it through a tanning process. The tanning process helps get rid of biological material that could rot. This makes its skin suitable for prolonged use without it being affected by the atmosphere.
After tanning, it’s time to give it volume by stuffing it in a process referred to as mounting. You can use such items as polyurethane form, wool, wire, and clay, among other non-toxic materials. If possible, sew up the opening through which you have stuffed the waterfowl.
The first few waterfowls might prove quite frustrating to skin and mount. But with a few waterfowls under your belt, you will soon be skinning smaller birds including doves, teals, and even sparrows. Should you incorrectly cut a hole, try arranging the feathers around it as naturally as possible.