I am working on waterfowl and after I skin, defat and flesh many of the sea ducks I find the skin is much larger than the original measurements I make on the body. Is it possible that by making a slightly larger body to accommodate the loose skin I am causing some problems with feather alignment at the end when I attempt to preen the finished bird? This usually happens on the back on the delicate feathers between the wings and down to the tail.
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you need a relatively loose fit. if the body is too tight, the quills have no room - this greatly affects the birds appearance
Sea ducks and a lot of other waterfowl will "let out" after you defat them. Using a larger body to compensate only causes more problems. Keep your body the same size as the one you took out, add chopped excelsior or fiberfill to the fatty areas on the crop and side pockets and use pins to help regulate the skin. Be patient. It might take two or three days for an eider skin to tighten up enough for it to look anything like an eider again.
Thanks for your constructive suggestions. This solved an error that has been haunting me for a couple weeks. From now on I will stick with body measurements and not skin size.