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how to mount a hooded merganser drake, a tutorial by Ryan P Kostyniuk

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by RyanP, May 21, 2011.

  1. Ok next step is to use a hairdryer to COMPLETLEY dry the rest of the feathers, including all the down. bottom pic is of skin fully dry and ready to mount.

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  2. And in answer to your question about gasoline, It is failrly common, though not 100percent nescessary.

    There are many solvent degreasers available at taxidermy suppliers. I use gas because it is easy to aquire locally, (no shipping costs)

  3. the next pics show the artificial head . This is a joe ferebee head available from mkenzie supply. I ground out a channel in the back of the head to accept a neck wire, then painted the bill.

    To paint bill. brush on a thin coat of flat black. ( I use a waterbased acrylic paint available from local craft stores.) when dry. apply a thin coat of matte mod-podge this gives a fleshy, leathery look to the bill that is very lifelike.

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  4. more . bottom pic is finished bill.

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  5. these two pics show the body form and pre made neck. also made by joe ferebee and available from mckenzie supply. In my opinion joe ferebee bird products are some of the best on the market.

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  6. I cut out the tail slot that is marked on the form the bottom pic is of the 9 mm tohickon 123 style yellow eyes used in this mount Joe ferbee heads have eyesockets preset to the correct depth and angle when using the tohickon 123 eyes. ( which are also very high quality) they do not have the glassy look of other eyes.

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  7. next cut your mounting wires. for the legs, double the length of the bones (drumstick bone and lower leg) I used 14 gauge wire for the legs , u want your wire stiff enough to support the weight of the bird, but not so stiff as to make working with the bird awkward.

    for the wings, double the length of the humerus only. (this will be a standing mount) also cut a 3inch long tail wire and bend this into a U shape. for the wings and tail I used 18 gauge tie wire (available at farm supply stores)

    Then attach the neck to the form by running the wire that is molded into the neck through the form, exiting on the back, and clinching the end back into the form, the following pics explain.

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  8. more

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  9. on to wiring the legs. run your leg wire down the back of the drumstick bone and just into the joint. then, very carefully run the wire through the joint and down the back of the tarsus (lower leg) exit the wire from the skin at the first toe joint on the middle toe.

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  10. use a wire tie to secure the wire to the drumstick bone, then rebuild the drumstick muscle by wrapping the bone and wire in paper towel. secure into place with hot-melt glue. DO NOT make the muscle to big. it is better to err on the side of too small in this area. bottom pic shows both legs wired and wrapped

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  11. Now wire the wings. tie the wire only to the humurus, and rebuild the muscle same as on the leg.

    We are now ready to mount the bird, run the artificial neck up into the neck skin, being carefull not to tear the skin. make sure the skin is not twisted or stretched.

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  12. at this point I use cotton string to wrap a sheet of paper towel around the entire body form. This is to absorb any residual moisture on the skin. You should also shake a little bit of powered borax over the inside of the skin at this point.

    next run the wing wires into the form at the shoulder (there are indented marks on the form) these wires will not exit the form on the other side. I apply a drop of hot-melt glue where the humerus meets the form. sorry I did not get a picture of attaching the wings.

    continue pulling (very gently) the skin around the form, and run the leg wires through the form, angle them so that they exit the form through the belly, and clinch the ends back in just as done on the back (when the neck was mated to the form)

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  13. when the skin has been pulled completley around the form, and the tail quills are in place in the slot, place a small amount of cotton at the bottom of the neck where it meets the form, to simulate a crop (be careful not to over do this)
    sow up the inscision starting at the breast and working toward the tail I used white nylon upholstery thread (double strand) in a baseball stitch, stitches only 1/8 inch apart. Go slow , being careful not to get any feathers in the seam. If you do it right, your seam will be virtually invisible.

    first pic b4 sowing, second pic shows finished seam (the best position for sowing I have found is to place the bird on your lap with the tail facing you)

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  14. next , I rough position the bird according to my reference. (Always use reference when you mount a bird. reference is one of the most important tools a taxidermist can have. Study live reference whenever possible, in the form of photographs, videos, and actual live birds.

    At this point I begin to groom the bird as well. use a pin and tweezers to correct the position of any unruly feathers. a gentle pull will often get a stubborn feather to lay into place properly. if the bird was fleshed, washed, degreased, and dried properly, the grooming, or preening, will be a breeze. if the feathers are damp, or greasy, grooming will be a nightmare.

    The bottom pic shows the habitat base used for this bird, always dry the bird on its habitat so that the feet can dry in the proper position. this base is available from mkenzie supply. It is extremely realistic, and is very lightweight.

    to attach the bird to the base, simply drill two holes into the rock about 2 inches deep. cut the leg wires protruding from the feet to the appropriate length, and test fit onto the base. if you are satisfied with the position, take the bird off the base, fill the holes in the rock with hot-melt glue, and then place the bird back into position.

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  15. note that the legs on a standing bird should not be straight as a board,. they should bend at the knee. the drumstick portion will fold up into the side pocket. this gives the final product a much more relaxed and natural look. As mentioned above, STUDY reference.
  16. now continue posing the bird. insert the tail wire between the under-tail coverts and the tail feathers. push it into the slot cut in the form. bend the tail into the proper position for your pose.

    to positon the wings, fold the humerus straight back along the body, the next joint folds forward, and the final joint folds back again,

    Use reference. the wing will tuck underneath the side pocket feathers. (brown on a hooded merganser) when the wing is in the final position. pin into place with 2-3 insect pins. these pins will remain in the bird after finishing, If needed, you can insert a couple of temporary t-pins as well for extra stability while drying.

    first pic shows bird partially positioned on base second pic shows bird completely posed and groomed fairly well, with wings in position , and neck adjusted to proper position as well.

    we are now ready to mount the head.

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  17. to mount the head, roll the head and upper neck skin down the artificial neck about 1 inch. I then pin or clip a sheet of paper towel between the skin and the exposed neck to prevent getting glue or clay in the feathers.

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  18. now snip the wire protruding from the top of the neck down to about 3/4 inch and bend forward at a right angle to the neck.

    I now test fit the head. the wire fits into the channel that was ground out earlier, but should be a little too long. mark where the tip of the wire meets the front of the channel, and drill a hole deep enough so that the head will sit properly on the neck. In this case the hole had to be made about 1/4 inch deep. then fill the channel in the head with hot-melt glue, and immedieatily place the head into position on the neck. let the glue harden completley b4 going on to the next step.

    first pic shows head with channel and hole, beside neck with wire cut to proper length.

    second pic shows head glued into position.

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  19. I next use critter clay to smooth the junction between head and neck.

    now install the eyes. tohickon 123 eyes are concave convex. I fill the back of the eye flush with hot-melt glue (do not over fill, or the eyes will not seat into the sockets properly) and immediatly press the eyes into their sockets. then use critter clay to sculpt eyelids. Use reference for this step, but don't spend "hours" getting it perfect. for now you are just tring to get a generic shape. the final sculpting will be done later, once the skin has been pulled into position.

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    Royal likes this.
  20. remove the paper towel, and gently coax the skin over the head. make sure everything is aligned properly, especially the ears and the eyes. make sure the skin fits properly around the bill. sqeeze some superglue ( I use zap-a-gap availble from most taxidermy suppliers) onto a piece of cardboard or a paper plate. use a pin to apply super glue to the top notch at the base of the bill. use a DIFFERENT pin to coax the skin into place, and hold for 10-20 seconds. If you mix up the pins, and get glue on the feathers, it will turn the contaminated feathers white. You should always have a bottle of superglue remover at hand to clean any accidental residue off of feathers or fingers.

    once the top is glued, do the same on the bottom, then do the sides. now use a pin to adjust the eyelids to their final pose, and groom the head feathers according to your reference. first pic shows skin pulled over head, but not glued. second pic shows glued and groomed head.

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