just a tip

Submitted by keith on 4/11/01. ( )

This may or may not be new. I use the real neck when I mount my birds, I run copper wire through the spinal colum for support then wrap with fine excselsior. While getting a bird ready for a upcoming show I was having problems with the head falling so I took the bird apart and smeared latex caulk all over the vertibrae rewrapped and reassembled. When the bird dried the connection was very solid. Like I said , this may or may not be new but it worked for me and I thought I would pass it along.

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This response submitted by George on 4/11/01. ( georoof@aol.com )

The method you described is as old as taxidermy is, but we stopped doing it years ago for a very good reason. When you use skeletal and actual skulls, you're inviting trouble from bugs. When we could use arsenic and DDT, we got away with a lot of that and those mounts are still killing dermistids. Today, however, there is no product available with that effectiveness because of the hazards involved. We use bigger wires in rubber necks and artificial heads. Your method is one hand on a clock you'd be wiser not to try and turn back.

Better use for DDT, ticks.

This response submitted by John C on 4/11/01. ( )

Found a 5lb bag in the slave quarters of the old house. Man am I gonna kill these damn ticks, this year.

Still a valid method for some species.

This response submitted by the Taxidermologist on 4/12/01. ( stephen.rogers@home.com )

Keith, I would suggest that you heed the advice George gave you for most birds, but this technique is still used by some masters in Europe and a few darned good taxidermists in the US of A.
However, I would switch to galvanized or stainless steel wire since copper will corrode and become green over time and does not offer the strength of a iron based metal. AND thoroughly clean the meat and spinal column material out with a wire wheel and multiple wires. I have even used a rifle swab to clean out spinal columns, but usually don't use this method. I would not use latex caulk on a mount either.
The only group of birds I consistently use the real neck bones is in Ciconiformes - Herons and their relatives. If you wish to mount a full grown Great Blue with all the appropriate bends where they should be, using the original neck bones is a great help. THE BEST way to use the actual neck bones is to actually have dermestid beetle EAT all the meat off them. To accomplish this first lay out the carcass in the exact position you wish it and trace the neck position on a large piece of paper. Skin out the bird inverting the head through the skin but with cuts previously made around the bill so that the head and neck are still attached but are separate from the skin. Then run wires up the vertebral column into the skull and bend the neck exactly as the original tracing was. Then retrace the head and neck on the piece of paper making sure to place all the opposing muscle masses properly and drawing in the windpipe which meanders in the loose areas. I then dry the positioned neck after removing most of the larger muscle masses, and paint blue silicon casting material (like Jeff Kuhn sells) entirely over the bill and into the nostrils. You may need two coats if you don't use thixtropic material. After it is dry you pop it in the colony and in a couple days ALL the edible material is essentially removed, dust off the live bugs and freeze it to kill the bugs. Then, with the meat all removed you can attach the actual neck bones to the hand-made mannikan at the correct position, build up the neck material and windpipe a PRESTO - you have an extremely accurate rendition.
The neck can also be cast in the Ardea herodias but even if the suppliers provided them, Great Blue Herons vary extremely in size. I have prepped well over a hundred for flat skins and skeletons through the years. For my money the Great Blues from Alberta are the best looking race.
Good luck, and never be afraid to try something different and post your observations.

thank you

This response submitted by Keith on 4/12/01. ( )

THanks for all the advice, I have had problems with the fake necks that I have used in the past(too big, hard to posistion) who makes the best artificial necks and what other methods work well. The method that I use was shown to me by a national champion ,does not mean it's correct,but it is working for me.Also what is the problem with using latex caulk? All advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much

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