keeping bill sheaths on bird skulls?

Submitted by Tasha DiMarzio on 9/2/04 at 6:38 PM. ( )

Does any one know of a way to keep the bill sheaths intact and on both mandibles? I have been soaking the skulls in Bizz and putting them in a drying oven at 30C and the bill sheaths disintigrates before the flesh has come off the bones.

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Not sure what 'Bizz' is...

This response submitted by Raven on 9/2/04 at 7:05 PM. ( )

But I just keep an eye on my sheaths. I assume you are macerating the specimens? Long before the bacteria have worked their way through the flesh, the sheaths will slip right off. Remove them as soon as you can and set them aside. You can keep them in clean water to keep them supple and to prevent shrinkage. Keeping them in clean water with some anti bacterial soap in a refrigerator is a good way to ensure they won't decompose. Then once your skull is completely cleaned, degreased and dry... remove your sheaths and slip them back over the nasal bones (bills, beaks etc) and allow them to dry naturally, conforming to the underlying bone structure as they do.

Personally - I don't like using the sheaths on my bird skulls. Sure it adds variety, but then - so do feathers and eyes but we don't keep those either. There are some wonderful pore patterns underneath sheaths that you only see with the sheath removed. Unless requested by a client that they stay on, I consider removing the sheath a part of the process of preparing a clean, fully exposed skull. I don't artifically whiten my skulls either, preferring instead the natural colour of the degreased bone.


This response submitted by tasha on 9/2/04 at 8:24 PM. ( )

I am still not quite sure on the procedure you are recomending? what must I use for the macerating. the Bizz is similar to borax. the main problem I am having is that the bill sheath isnt slipping right off.
I am not using the skull for taxidermy, i am using them for skeletal display, so it would be nice to keep the sheaths on.
thanks for your help

use the orange search button

This response submitted by Raven on 9/2/04 at 11:36 PM. ( )

use the orange search button and type in 'maceration'. It is the most thorough form of cleaning osteological material. Beetles are often better for cleaning bird skulls unless you are very familiar with avian cranial anatomy. Once you start reading the archives about macerating, you'll see I have a huge problem with simmering skulls... so the Bizz / Borax thing is something I don't even consider an option.

I don't do taxidermy either.. Im a reproduction/habitat/skull guy...all the things a well roudned taxidermists knows.. without the skins - LOL! As such - thats MORE the reason why I remove those sheaths.. tho show the bones of the beak or bill... Taxidermists would leave the sheaths on as that is the outer appearance. I remove it to show the underlying bone...


This response submitted by Wolfwoman on 9/3/04 at 11:58 PM. ( thepredator AT )

Maceration = rotting in water :)

That's about all there is to it. If you're like more info, email me.

HI RAVEN! Yep, I'm still around, finishing up about 14 bears, a moose and a


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