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average time spent skinning and mounting bird,s

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by daniel, Oct 1, 2006.

  1. daniel

    daniel New Member

    hi all i was curious about time spent on various bird,s i know it take,s me about 16 hour,s but im not raceing with the clock i noticed that jame,s parrish said he spent 3 hour,s hand,s on with the merganser now that,s pretty quick hope to hear from some of you thank,s in advance DANIEL :)
  2. Wolf

    Wolf AHOOoooooo!

    I do bird taxidermy in stages, skinning all in a day or weekend, prepping a handful in one day and mounting one, two, even three a day depending on how much I want to get done, and what else I'm doing besides birds. I make all my supplies, heads and bodies in one day too, so I'm set for whatever. I looked at the clock and figured out my average timing after doing a few birds. It take me 15 minutes to take the carcass out of a bird, 20 min on a goose or vulture size bird. 30 minutes to flesh properly, remove the meat from legs, wings, and skull if I use the head, 45-60 minutes on a goose(fatty things). Washing birds takes 5-10 minutes of my time, waterfowl soak in degreaser for a bit though while I do other stuff. I hand dry birds so on a quail thats 15 minutes, pheasant 30, geese can take an hour. Mounting time, 2 hours for game birds and ducks, maybe 3 for geese and bigger birds. If I cast a head, that is 3 minutes of my time per head, with the final product ready in 20 minutes, and casting a body form takes another 3-4 minutes, with the form ready in an hour or so. Wrapped bodies, 15 minutes.

    From dead bird to drying mount it takes me around 3 hours 20 minutes to do a pheasant with a cast head and body; you can do the math to figure out time on other birds I do. I never looked at a clock when I do finishing work, I don't take more than 30 minutes to paint and clean up my bird mounts though. Throughout the drying process, I check the feathers, pose and mount in general, taking a second to tweak imprefections. You get faster the more birds you do. I didn't get commercial bird work until January this year. After 5 birds, I got a set pattern worked out to use every second wisely and quickly. On museum birds, I may take a ton of hours out just to get the bird as perfect as humanly possible, but that's like competition work, and another story unto itself ;) Now, if I could just get my life-size big mammals on such a schedule I'd be set... 6 hours + on just sewing sucks! And I'm pretty fast at sewing, lol

    Great question Daniel.
    Later, Wolf

  3. Becky P

    Becky P One must believe the glass is half full.

    I'm slow on birds too. From start to finish, on a bird without problems (million shot holes, broken bones, etc.), I usually spend 6-8 hours. Most of my time is spent in the defatting and washing stages. Even with a wire wheel, I'm terribly slow. Then I wash at least three times and then rinse forever. I don't use coleman or anything like that to displace the water, so drying takes a little while. I dry with a shop vac in reverse.
  4. JonHarleTX

    JonHarleTX Ya'll hear that. George just signed in. Quick Hide

    although i'm capable of the three to four hour bird if I have to, I generally am more in the lines of the 6 to 8 hour bird for all general purposes. If I'm really wanting to put my best effort into something I'm likely to spend several days from start to finish.. doing it in small steps and thinking everything through first...

  5. Becky P

    Becky P One must believe the glass is half full.

    Jon, I don't feel so bad about my time now. LOL I do spend more time on comp peices though, now whether it makes any difference or not, who knows.:)
  6. Wolf

    Wolf AHOOoooooo!

    I worked on a guinea hen today and realized I'm an hour off in my calculations in the post above. After mounting a bird it takes me another hour or more to taxi the skin and get all the feathers in order. See you loose track of time when your having fun ;D
  7. Jim McNamara

    Jim McNamara Well-Known Member

    It takes me 6 hours , start to finish to put up a duck or pheasant. A goose gets 8 hrs and the big guys like TURKEYS get two days before I am happy with the work! :'(
  8. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

    It take me an average of 5 hours from start to finish on ducks and pheasants. Then 10 minutes every time I go near it for the next 5 days rearranging something that I see that just doesn't look 100%.
  9. Rick RR GBirds

    Rick RR GBirds Let's go kill some birds...I'm psyched!

    Let's see the Vikings were suckin', so I started on a goose at 3 ish yesterday and was still working on it at midnight...I had no bones broke on this bird so I thought it would be a slam dunk, but the wing bones managed to rip the skin in my tumbler I guess...I have a good tumbler...Lot's of extra sewing...It's always one thing or another that ends up slowing me down...The end result was good, but I wish I was faster...3 hours...that just blow my mind...
  10. wingman

    wingman Active Member

    As I do nothing but birds for a living the average time spent on a duck or pheasant is 3 1/2 hours thats with a hand wrapped body and cast head or real head on the pheasant Prepping ie'' skinning fleshhing comes almost consistently to 1/2 hour per bird, wrapping bodies and necks about 10-15 min per bird and drying and wiring comes in at about a 1/2 hour SO with no distractions that leaves about an hour to position and inject the feet with a little time left over for finish work basically 2 birds is an easy 7 hour day It the finish work that Takes time and I hate it. I would rather feel productive putting birds together than finish work anyday.
  11. It takes me one long day to mount a duck. But, I do inject feet, paint bill and feet, completely degrease, remove all tissue from wings, wash two or three times, blow dry, wrap a body to scale, wire legs and wings, remove and replace head with artificial, place on a piece of driftwood (that I usually have to drill out and add a hanger to), and then spend a couple of hours posing and grooming. 3 hours blows my mind too. On turkeys, I start three or four at a time. I'll spend two days fleshing and cleaning the wings of four turkeys, a day and a half on the legs (infecting and posing) and fans (cleaning and bondoing), a day painting four heads, a half a day on putting bases together and wiring forms with legs, fans, and heads. When it comes to just putting one together, it takes an entire day to put on the skin, caulk, sew, adjust wings, and completely groom to the point I'm satisfied. Basically, it takes me two weeks to mount 4 turkeys. If you have someone working in your shop, that might make a huge difference depending on their experience. I have, however, remounted some turkeys done by other taxidermists that were never even fleshed (meat in wings, head, and fat throughout). If I were to take a turkey skin and throw it on a form, sew it up, take three cans of spray paint (red white and blue) and apply to the head, put it on a limb with a slight lean to the left, bend the wires up under the limb and give the bird a nice pat on the back; I could see doing a turkey in just a few hours.
  12. daniel

    daniel New Member

    thank you all for the reply,s i feel allso a bit better i usually skin clean and then in the freezer make the body and put together the next day i will hopefully get a bit quicker as time goe,s by thank,s again DANIEL :)
  13. James Parrish

    James Parrish Tundra Swan...Its What's For Dinner!

    I do taxidermy to make money for me and my family. While I do enjoy doing a nice competition piece, I just can't justify spending that much time on every bird I mount. Basically, the way I do my ducks is a good quality commercial technique. I skin a bunch of birds at one time. Since I work part-time, I may spend 2-3 evenings doing nothing but skinning. When I skin a duck, I remove the legs and clean the meat from the wings. When I clean the wings, I leave the feathers attached to the ulna. On a closed wing, I make an incision and remove the meat that way. On open wings, I scrape the meat out with a metal tool (looks like a modeling tool?). It takes a couple more minutes to do this, but the wings look much better and usually require no carding.

    I flesh all the birds in a big batch...again, this might take a couple of evenings.

    I wire and inject the feet with Masters Blend. I have a super quick procedure for this where I basically inject the entire foot and leg with 1 syringe full of MB and drop the foot into a jar of acetone or laquer thinner. Once the MB kicks off, I take the feet out of the solvent and let them sit overnight. I will then spend an evening painting a bunch of heads and feet and prepping the forms and necks, etc.

    When I start assembling the birds, I do 2-3 per evening, depending on pose. I can sometimes do 4 in an evening if they are closed wing birds and I work late. But generally, I do 2 at a time.

    Once they are put together, posed, and groomed, that is all I have to do to the bird except remove any pins/tape/carding/etc. and dust.

    I say all that, not to brag, but to help educate. If you have the time to spend 8 hrs on a duck, that's up to you. If I spent 8 hrs on a duck, I'd have to charge somewhere in the $375-400 range just to make a $40 per hour shop rate. At 20 hrs for a turkey, I'd have to charge $900+. There is NO way that I could get my clients to pay that kind of money. I guess that is the beauty of owning your own business...you can do what suits you.
  14. Muthagoose

    Muthagoose You do your thing, I'll do mine.....

    Im with John on this one..Id much rather take the extra time than turn out a bird without obvious errors...
    5-8 hours pending on type and damage....
    Its the main reason for the extra pay and freetime....
  15. Usually takes 4 to 6 hours depending on condition of duck to begin with, lots of holes or lots of fat takes more time.
  16. Jims Wildlife Studio

    Jims Wildlife Studio Full Time PA Taxidermist

    It depends on the condition of the bird itself to give an accurate statement. If shot up and blood soaked it is going to take allot longer. I normally give myself a 7 hour window.