Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Pin-Feathered Birds
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Taxidermy.Net Forum  |  Beginners, Training & Tutorials  |  Tutorials  |  Topic: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Pin-Feathered Birds « previous next »
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Author Topic: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Pin-Feathered Birds  (Read 12579 times)
Matt Smith
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« on: October 12, 2013, 02:44:06 PM »

Well, between taking in several severely pinned up Sage Grouse this week and the normal phone calls and emails this time of year concerning how best to handle a pin-feathered bird I decided to get this tutorial done before the season goes into full swing.
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The Bird for this on-line seminar will be the notoriously pin-feathered Tree Duck!  I think most would agree that if a client brings in a fairly common specimen that is found to have pin feathers the best practice would be to recommend that they harvest another bird so that they can get the best mount possible back. However, what if the bird has a special significance to the client?  What about the tree duck shot by an out of state hunter on his once-in-a-lifetime trip?  In cases like these you may have little choice but to mount it up.  Should that be the case, consult with the client and make sure that you set the proper expectation concerning the final mount and the issues that pin feathers can create in a mount.

The first pics here show the outer inspection of the skin that reveals pin feathers in virtually every feather tract of the bird.

Scap Area:

Side Pockets: 

Tail:
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 09:06:43 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2013, 02:47:27 PM »

Once the bird has been skinned you can get a good idea of how badly pinned-up the bird is from the inner inspection.



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Matt Smith
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2013, 02:52:58 PM »

So, TIP #1 is to SLOW DOWN on the wheeling process.  Use scissors and gently wheel the bird so that you can get the skin free of fat, but so that you don't force or pull out pin feathers that will tend to stay in through the mounting process.
Here is the skin, once it has been fluffed up after being removed from a very gentle bath process. 
 

TIP #2 is to decide, based on where all the pin feathers are - on WHAT POSE WOULD BE BEST for the particular bird.  Some will make better flying mounts and some will make better standing mounts.  No matter fly or stand, you should be deciding ahead of time what the "SHOW SIDE" will be for your mount.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:16:13 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2013, 03:04:25 PM »

Tip #3 is utilizing your blower to expose all the pin feathers that you SHOULD REMOVE manually with tweezers BEFORE mounting the bird.

This picture is of the scaps where a whole group of pin feathers was removed.  Note however the "half" feather that has been left in tact.
 

Tip #4 - Choose which pin feathers to pull out and conversely those that you will LEAVE IN.  The picture below is an example of both:  The one on the LEFT I will LEAVE IN the mount (although it may come out by itself during drying or when grooming later, it may prove useful for hiding "holes" left by other pin feathers that fell out when doing final grooming later.   The one on the Right is a "must pull" in our shop. It will cause you headaches later when trying to groom the bird so remember to take all of these types of feathers out before assembling the bird.
   
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:16:39 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2013, 03:11:43 PM »

Here is a picture of just some of the pin feathers that fell out by themselves during skinning, washing or blowing or those that where manually removed.
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Matt Smith
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2013, 03:16:33 PM »

Tip #5 - Dry, Dry, Dry the DOWN of pin feathered birds until it is fluffy.  Based on the feather loss of these birds, they will dry "hard", so you MUST have all the down fluffed to help soften the final mount.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:07:43 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2013, 03:19:29 PM »

Here is the skin after manually removing pin feathers, fluffing and table grooming.  Note the amount of scap feathers that have been lost on the bird's left shoulder.  This fact helped to dictate 2 things:  That the bird would be mounted on the wall and that the right side would be the SHOW SIDE.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:30:49 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2013, 03:24:37 PM »

Tip #6 -  GO SMALLER!  What this means is that you should be using a slightly smaller BODY and NECK when mounting a pin feathered bird.  This will allow the feathers that are there to fall together and shingle easier as well as allow you to CAULK the entire body, giving you something to set your pin feathers in. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when dealing with a pin feathered bird is to use a body that "fits" or worse yet, that is too big. This bird measured and sketched out at a 9" Girth, but was mounted on an altered 8.5" body.
   
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:08:31 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2013, 03:28:40 PM »

Tip #7 - Don't touch the bird unless you have to and groom GENTLY...feathers can and will still come out!  Here is a picture of the initial set up of the bird. I have hot dogs for fingers...if I can handle a bird gently then YOU CAN TOO. ;D

« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:08:54 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2013, 03:32:32 PM »

Tip #8 - Be very careful when installing the head and touching the skin on the head and neck.  You can be this far along and still ruin your mount by simply touching these areas and watching hundreds of the smallest feathers on the bird fall out.  USE tweezers and pins to taxi this skin and install the head.

« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:24:46 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2013, 03:38:59 PM »

Tip #9 - Collapse feather groups if you need to.  We all like to "flare" feathers and show them off on nice birds, but pin feathered birds are different and you will find yourself "closing" feathers to make them look nicer.  If you recall the initial picture of the tail it had feathers missing and 2 very bad pins that had to be removed. The solution here is to collapse the tail and caulk it in place.

Here is the tail after taping into place....note the brooming on the center tail feather....by covering it with the wing primaries, it goes away.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:09:55 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2013, 03:43:40 PM »

Tip #10 - Use Caulk in the areas that call for it.  Whenever I have a student come back for advanced schooling and we get into how to best utilize caulk, it never fails, they use caulk everywhere even when it isn't called for and mess up several mounts before realizing that sometimes "less is more."  With that said, here is a picture of the scap area.  I will cut a hole where my thumb is and inject a golf-ball size of caulking so I can position and groom the pin feathered shoulder area more efficiently.
   
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:32:14 PM by KMA » Logged

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Matt Smith
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« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2013, 03:51:45 PM »

And finally, the finished mount on the stand to dry.
TIP #11 - Groom quickly, carefully and don't "pull hard" on any feather. The longer you wait, the more feathers you will pull out when grooming. Get it done and KNOW WHEN TO QUIT

In this picture you can see where I have moved feathers from Right, Left, Up or Down to cover up the voids that are all over this bird, especially around the scaps.  While many of the feathers on this bird are in no way, shape or form where they are supposed to be, in the case of pin feathered birds many times you will have to position feathers so that you can create an illusion to get the softest mount possible.  I timed myself while grooming this bird and when the first feather pulled out, I stopped right at 12 minutes.
 

TIP #12 - One last tip concerning STANDING poses on pin feathered birds:  Depending on the condition of the SIDE POCKETS and how many feathers are or are not there when mounting you may have to have the wing placed in an "out of pocket" mode to cover the side pockets up. This seems to be the case more often than not.

 
I hope these tips help you create an action plan when dealing with pin feathered birds as well as to give better service to your clients and make money on "un-mountable" birds in the future.   :)   Matt
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 04:34:09 PM by KMA » Logged

On fb>>> Waterfowl Taxidermy Tips, Tricks, Mounts and Pics
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Jay Parke
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« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2013, 06:43:53 PM »

Great post!!!!

I get a bunch of Sept Sage Grouse. Not to mention the KIDS FIRST BIRD.

I find it helps to tell them ... two birds are better than one.

I always have an extra skin for tails , wing feathers and DOG marks .

And keep a screen on the drain!
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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2013, 11:06:23 AM »

Wow, great post! Thank you for the tips, I know I've learned a few of these the hard way! I have a pair of very early season Scaup that I am working on now and this post came at the perfect time.
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