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First Articulation: Red-Tailed Hawk

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by benjhind, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. Well, it has been about a month since my last post and I've made very little progress! I have spent most of the month sick in bed, and the remainder I spent scratching my head at the wrist bones. I've handled them so much they need whitening again :(

    Here is what the hawk looks like today:


    Even with Lee Post's book and wbd's tutorial here, I can't seem to figure it out. Could someone help me out? I'm looking to have tightly bent wings, the bird will be in a resting position. Some photos of a completed wing at different angles would be very valuable. I've also included some photos of the bones. One photo shows the ulnar carpal where it looks like it should go by the Lee Post book. Any input would be greatly appreciated!


  2. wbd

    wbd Member

    It's been a while since I was here, but I'm back (sort of.. lol)

    You're doing pretty good for your first articulation! Some things I'd like to mention... On the overall posture of the skeleton, I think the scapulae should be a little bit more to the back. Try to bring the coracoids a little bit closer to the pelvis. In doing so, you'll see that the top part of the coracoids (where the scapulae attach), will rise a bit, and that gives you the space to put your scapulae a little but more up and backwards. (It might also be the angle of the picture, but I think they could be a little further back nonetheless).

    Now for the wrist bones... There is a small, thiangle-like shaped bone, and a more irregular bone. The triangle shaped one (the left one on the second picture you posted), is the one that goes articulates with the radius (the smaller one of the 2 wingbones there). On that small bone, there is a linear indentation, an elongated dent so to speak, that should fit quite nicely on the part of the radius that is the furthest away from the shoulder joint.
    I'll take some more pictures of the macaw wrist bones later today or tomorrow, maybe that helps...

    The ulnar carpal bone is a little harder to get right.. On the bottom side of the ulna (at the level of the wrist joint), there is a rounded part where it articulates with the rest of the wing. On the ulnar carpal bone there is a rounded indentation, that should fit on there. I think your positioning is quite allright on the last picture you posted. There is a small hook-shaped extention on the ulnar carpal bone, and that should be on the medial side (so between the wing and the ribs) of the carpometacarpus.

    I hope this helps...


  3. Hello folks,

    After about a year of sitting, I finally decided it was time to dig this project up and get it finished.

    This project was a great learning experience for me. Lessons learned include being careful during dissection (lost 2 phanges from left wing), don't macerate scleral rings (difficult to reassemble), and don't take 2 years to finish a build (somehow lost a talon). There are a few other issues, such as the scapulae as Walter kindly pointed out, and some issues regarding symmetry that I'll hope to iron out on the next build. Overall I think it turned out not bad but not great. The learning experience was definitely worth it.

    The photos aren't great. A couple are from last night while the glue was setting on a wing and the skull, then another couple I snapped this morning before taking it to work.

    Big thanks go to all who have helped out on this forum and to Lee Post for putting together his bird building book!




  4. I've also cleaned up a few skeletons since starting assembling the red-tail. I'm looking for votes on what to do next.

    Crow? Mallard? or Sharp-shinned hawk?

    I also found another red-tail on the road a couple of weeks ago, so eventually I hope to do it as well. However, if I keep taking two years on each, this could be a lengthy process!
  5. Wouter

    Wouter Member

    Hi Ben,

    Nice skeleton, it looks pretty active in this pose, and it looks mostly correct anatomically. If you don't mind me pointing at a few minor details:
    - the left hand section is too horizontal, but the right wing is correct. If you take it off and superglue it back on a bit more inwards it will be OK.
    - the knee caps should be on top of the knee, not inside the knee. I know Lee added the knee cap to his drawings afterwards, so I can imagine you could not see it right in the book.
    If you do your next skeleton in a more relaxed pose, it will be good to know that the neck will bend downwards between the shoulders and then up, in an S-shape.
    Which one to do next will depend on whether you want to do a similar one, then you could do the small hawk or the crow. If you want something different the duck will be nice. The body will be a bit more duifficult because the ribs are longer and thinner, and the ones at the back won't connect with the breastbone but with the next rib in front. This is a bit harder to do, but with the third hand you use it won't be too much of a problem.
    Lee Post has a section on his website with pictures of skeletons people made using his books, I'm sure he'll appreciate a picture of your hawk. I haven't send him pics of my skeletons yet, because I still have to find out how to downsize them from 3 MB ::)

    Good luck with your next project,


    Good luck
  6. Guus

    Guus Member

    I was going to reply, but then I saw that Wouter did it much better then I would do. The sizes of birds you can choose from next are all good to work with, I'm sure they will turn out great since this first bird already looks so good!
  7. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Great thread and very good reference pictures.
  8. Thanks flolks!

    Wouter, I'm glad you think the pose is alright. My original intent was to go with a resting posture, but while I was assembling the wings I couldn't quite get them in the right position. After assembling one in the fashion you see, I got the idea to try this pose. The intent is for the bird to be agitated/defensive. I deal with raptors fairly regularly at work and I've often seen them react to human presence by posing with their wings slightly unfolded (making themselves look larger) and gaping the beak.

    I do appreciate your comments very much and would encourage others to post other issues they see. You're right that Lee's book is somewhat lacking on patella placement, so I really took a shot in the dark. If anyone has any reference photos, I would appreciate them!

    I will send Lee some photos. Perhaps I will correct a couple of the more easily-fixed problems first. If you don't know how to down-size photos, you can always use an online service such as photobucket.com. This allows you to upload your photos and send links to them via email, rather than sending the photo itself. The site also makes it easy to re-size photos.

    Another photo:

  9. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

    There are lots of finer points that could be made with your articulation, but it better than the first articluation I did on a grouse in 1969 or so.

    The main comment is how the vertebrae are arranged from the mid-back through to the skull. As Wouter says, the S bend is very standard, and actually in a resting bird, the vertebrae coming off the back actually dip down, not up as you ahve the mount. This would place the scapula much better. The beginning neck vertebrae from the mid back are often below the level of where the top of the coracoid and humerus meat.

    The other observation that can give you another viewpoint is visualization of meat upon the bones. The bones have muscles upon them and as such, the bones cannot be too close together in a reconstructed skeleton. This is certainly visible on the left femur in relation to the ulna where the muscle would create far too much height to allow the bones to be that close in proximity.

    Along the lines of the visualization of the meat, you also must view where the feathers would be. The primaries are essentially rigidly set into the manus and visualization the angles they would have on the bones should they be placed in position should be considered in how the bones are placed on the skeleton. The secondaries, while attached individually to the Ulna can move quite a bit in angle.

    The next skeleton you prepare, spend a couple hours playing with how the carcass moves and is positioned after you husk the bird and before it is run in the dermestid colony or is macerated. I have prepared hundreds of hawks and observations over time gives you a feel for how they should be contructed. I have not 'articulated' any hawks, but have made study skins or mounts of over 150 and reference skeletons of even more than that.

    Keep up the good work ! Looking forward to you next articulations.
  10. Wow their skulls are damn near as big as their body!
  11. Thanks, PA, very much for the kind words and suggestions for improvement. I have a red-tail in the freezer that I will skin out and manipulate to get a better idea of postures before attempting another skeleton, its a great suggestion.

    I live near a very busy highway that also hosts some great red-tail habitat. It is unfortunate that they get hit, but at least we can make use of them in Canada. I guess it is a trade-off. Our laws are very prohibitive of sale/trade of (most) wildlife parts, so it is hard to get anything that isn't in my immediate area. Also, getting strong peroxide is very difficult!
  12. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

    If you are doing mostly birds, I don't personally beleive you need strong peroxide. Even stuff from Sally Bueaty supply may be stornger than you need for birds - the brown bottle stuff is good enough for birds assuming it is fresh. Bones aren't naturally bright white anyhow. Birds also have less complex fat and ammonia works well for degreasing rather than needing a heated solution.
  13. Looks great. I hope mine turns out as nice.
    I'm having trouble with mine and wonder if you could take some pictures of yours to help me out.
    The carpel bones are beyond confusing. And also i cannot figure out how to attach the fourth toe. Any advice or pictures you can provide would be much appreciated.
  14. Damon

    Damon Member

    I believe you only need to provide proof of ownership of the animal, that it was taken legally and that it is not a restricted species. Proof of ownership is provided via trapline#, trapper#, hunting lic#, or through certification. I assume this is what you have done for your hawk. An ownership permit, property permit or recovery permit depending on your province. You can sell wildlife parts as long as the permit or paperwork for the animal parts. In Canada all Wildlife is crown property and the ministry wants to know that royalties have been payed to crown. Then it is yours to do with as you please as long as the right paperwork stays with it.

    At least that is how it works in BC.

    That is a great looking Articulation by the way!
  15. Hey Damon, I guess I should have been more specific. Species are separated into two groups, federal (migratory birds and marine mammals) and provincial (everything else). The laws pertaining to provincially regulated species vary greatly across the country, and Ontario's are very strict when it comes to purchase and sale.

    Wheelchair, I'll try to get you some photos of the carpels; but I struggled with them and I'm not 100% sure they're right. The hind toe shouldn't be difficult; just get the accessory metatarsus in place and the bones should be pretty easy to line up. Mine aren't great as I glued the tarsometatarsus too close to the wood and they don't line up well.
  16. RBlack

    RBlack Member

    That is cool, nice work!
  17. Vkvz

    Vkvz New Member

    Others said it all, so I'll just add this is a very nice articulation, get to work on another specimen now!! ;)
  18. Yes, every thing said, but, you did a really nice first skeleton. Only thing I saw was the "no curve" at the start of the neck and it was already pointed here. Cool you can have those birds :)
  19. Wouter

    Wouter Member

    Last week I got an Email from Lee Post, who had got an Email from Ben about some details he could not work out from Lee's manual. I promised Lee I'll build a skeleton of a large raptor and take pics of all kind of details and the methods, which Lee will convert in those wonderful drawings he's so good at. This way his Bird Building Book will be updated and improved. This will be a nice project I'm looking forward to.
    Now I only have to choose a suitable skeleton to work with. I have plenty of raptor skeletons in store but not much space for the completed ones if they are really big ::)

  20. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I'll wait to buy the updated version that you helped work on then. :) Build your skeleton and then send it to me. I'll store it for you. Problem solved. That is great that you and your work will be part of that series.