1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Are artificial bird heads needed?

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by Primetines, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. Primetines

    Primetines New Member

    I Dont get much for birds but have 10 coming up to do 9 ducks and a grouse. I have gotten away with using a turkey's natural head by spraying with preserve/water mixed, then painting with good results and wondering if artificial is mandatory for ducks? Any pointers would be appreciated. Thank you.
  2. Barry Snow

    Barry Snow New Member

    You can use a artificial head, or the old way prepare the real skull. The artificial head has more advantages however.

  3. critterstuffr

    critterstuffr New Member

    I feel there are lots of advantages to using artificial heads. First and foremost the ability to paint or finish the head off the bird is nice but more is the fact you have no chance of leaving any meat or other nasties in the head. You also gain the advantage of lack of sh inkage on the bill it's self. What you do have to overcome is the fear of gluing the skin back to the art bill. really easy after you do a few. Less is more. just my two cents good luck. P.S. the grouse I'd use the real skull less grease issues.
  4. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    after being a taxidermist for well over 40 years I can say that using the real skull should now be out of the picture...as we no longer ride horses for daily transportation and use cars, I can't see why anyone would want to not use an artificial one...if nothing else for sanitary reasons.....I have rarely seen a natural skull cleaned the way we did in the old days at the museum...we had them clean enough to eat off of....and especially turkey heads...nothing looks worse than either a plastic turkey head or using a real one...freeze dried heads should be used at all times for the best results...don't cut corners! spend the bucks to freeze dry them and either cast your own waterfoul heads or buy them
  5. Nancy C

    Nancy C Well-Known Member

    There are pros and cons to both methods. The main thing that the cast beaks prevent is shrinkage, so they are especially useful for waterfowl, because, as a group, they tend to show a lot of shrinkage in their beaks - eiders, geese and swans in particular.

    I don't see any point to using them on upland birds like your grouse.
    However, if you are happy with the results that you can get from simply preserving and painting a turkey head then I suspect that you won't be bothered by the shrinkage of a goose's bill.
    I'm going to bite my tongue now and not say what I'm thinking.....
  6. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    real antlers and real claws are not internal items, they are external....I also use the real toes on my birds....I guess the difference I didn't mention is that I cast all my heads off of the original specimen I am using....its an exact fit! again, I doubt very few people are cleaning the real skulls spotless....I also cast upland game bird heads and use the real beaks...you would not know the real skull is not in them....opinions vary, this is just mine....I'm sure birdman you are very happy with still using the original skulls....I still see ducks mounted in the museums collection that were mounted pre artificial heads that show not only shrinkage of the bills over time but the years seem to play havoc on them with the paint still staying on the bills....to give you an example.. I just destroyed over 300 birds in the collection that were mounted in the 1870's that were all poisoned with arsenic so the museum didn't want them in the collection any longer, and all of them still after nearly 150 years they still had some grease coming out of the bills and feet......that stuff never dries up! this is another , to me, good reason for artificial waterfoul heads...I think your bird work is beautiful, don't get me wrong...to me, the artificial ones are not subject to insect infestation over time resulting in damage hence the sanitary statement I made earlier....best of luck with however the original poster choses.....all ways work...me being old school it was hard to get used to the artificial ones....now I realize their place for longevity overall of the mount..
  7. 1fish2fish

    1fish2fish Well-Known Member

    Shrinkage on fish is something that "A little shellac, sealer, or fin flex" won't resolve. At least from my experience.
    Best, Scott
  8. R.J. Meyer II

    R.J. Meyer II Member

    "I have gotten away with using a turkey's natural head by spraying with preserve/water mixed" What ?
  9. Todd B

    Todd B Active Member

    Nancy i wish you would not bite your tongue and go a head and say whats on your mind. I want to hear it. LOl. I truly would love to see this turkey head that is sprayed with preserve and water. I cannot imagine what it would look like. In my shop artificial heads are used on all waterfowl.

    Todd B
  10. 1fish2fish

    1fish2fish Well-Known Member

    If shrinkage on a bill "is not an issue any more than it is with fish", "a little shellac, sealer, or fin flex" should work the same on shrinkage as it relates to fish. It doesn't resolve the shrinkage issues on fish, again in my experience. Perhaps you should be more specific in your writing and less condescending.
    Best, Scott
  11. igor

    igor Member

    I would love to see a picture of that turkey head . If it is one what was posted on Facebook ...
  12. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    I have no idea if they were washed only that they are arsenic treated and not one bug has touched them in the 150 years...the skulls however are spotless and the inside of the bills on the waterfoul were scraped out nearly hollow.......still the beaks are slick with grease...its still personal opinion and everyone should use what works best for them....I am still sold on the sanitary reason...
  13. jimss

    jimss Active Member

    I'm not sure how freeze-dried works for ducks but I was totally blown away how realistic the turkey heads I got freeze-dried turned out from boondocks. You may want to buy 1 to see what they look like? You could paint up both a repro and freeze-dried heads to show clients and give them the option...with a price for both?
  14. B Jones

    B Jones Memeber of - NTA,UTA,AIT.Proud Member of NZTA.

    I think we all would love to see that Turkey Head, come show us a picture.
  15. josh s.

    josh s. Active Member

    I want to see the Turkey head as well... very interested!
  16. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Byrdman, when you're FOS, you have no compunction in exhibiting it. In the modern (post cell phone) era of taxidermy, no one in their right mind is going to use the "real head" on most everything. No one said it couldn't be done, but as Museum Man stated, I could probably count on one hand the number of people who'd prepare the head as it should be. Shrinkage is ALWAYS a problem. The soft tissues around the nares and certainly the wattles, corruncles, and snood simply aren't going to stay the say by spraying a little liquid fairy dust on them. For turkeys, I wouldn't use them because of the hair feathers on the real ones. Yet I wouldn't think of mounting them conventionally and defer to freeze dried heads. If a duck head is "too heavy", then you must not be using a big enough wire. (BTW, fish don't shrink because the skins are mounted wet and stretched/glued over manikins. Very few cold water fish taxidermists would think of using a real head because of that along with the possible grease bleed.) As Nancy so eloquently stated, UPLAND BIRDS are a whole nuther issue and I don't use the artificial heads for them.
  17. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I have done uplands with the real head and bondo as per Danny Owens and also the real head and clay as per most instruction I received and artificial heads. The clayed heads were heavy. I found that I liked the bondoed real heads the best for uplands. Freeze dried for turkeys and although I have not done a duck, artificial seems to be the way to would go. Byrdman, I have heard you say in this thread and others where your opinion was not as popular as most, that if done correctly, your way works great. The same could be said about a lot of procedures. If you mount a bird with no caulk, if done right, it comes out awesome. If you mount a bird with caulk and do it right, it comes out awesome. If you use the real head, if done right, it turns out awesome. If you use an artificial head, if done right, it turns out awesome. It comes down to preference and I believe that one should try it many different ways, so they can decide what works best for them. I tried three ways for uplands, three ways for turkeys and three ways for crows so that I can know what works best for me. I prefer not to use artificial heads for any of those. So, to the OP, do one, one way and then another way and another until you come up with a suitable way that works for you.
  18. dwimberly

    dwimberly Member

    WOW...this has turned quite fiesty. Let me help get back to the subject at hand here. Artificial heads are not required for ducks. I however, like using the real head but I am in the process of trying some other things out just to see if I like them better. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I have birds in my shop that have been there for years, with the real head, and there is not one drop of oil that has come out of these birds anyhwere. They look just fine. If done correctly real heads look great and same goes for artificial. So I dido Tanglewood.
  19. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Obviously YOU care. You're always trying to act as if you're the king of turd island and only those birdbrains that you approve should have their "noses stuck here". Guess what? You don't impress me with your display of knowledge and if that's the best you can do, you should try harder.

    Next time you get a chance, look in the supply catalogs. You're going to find artificial bird heads made by guys like Tony Finazzo, Joe Ferebee, and Stefan Savides. Last time I checked, there were no "Byrdman" artificial heads listed, but then again, he's not Stefan Savides either.
  20. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Guess that's because you never bothered to look. I know there's a bald eagle, a rooster, a Lady amherst pheasant, a ringneck and a barred owl on here someplace. I have two WASCO awards for birds but Tony Finazzo has 3 I think. I'm sure we're "nobody's" but no one seems to know who you really are, we've never seen anything you've done, and all you do is talk smack. Are you sure you aren't Redwolf in hiding. LMAO.