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

African Gray

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by xxohmycaptainxx, Jul 24, 2015.

  1. xxohmycaptainxx

    xxohmycaptainxx Member

    129
    0
    Does anyone know a good way to process a parrot skull without damaging the beak sheath? I've worked with birds before but they were starlings, pigeons and exotic songbirds so I'm not really familiar with how a parrot's beak sheath will hold up in maceration. I'm used to the beak sheath just sliding off the skull in a day or two. Will this be the same for a parrot? Or will it break down and discolor? I really want to start cleaning this skull. I have its full skeleton but that's not an issue to clean I'm just a bit confused on how to preserve the sheath as that's a very important part of a parrot skull both for identification reasons and for aesthetic.
     
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Perhaps Jean-Christophe will chime in. I believe he macerates these skulls and has done some beautiful parrot and macaw skeletons. I have a large green winged macaw that I need to do and will probably macerate and reassemble. Bugs will damage the beak. I'm not sure if Jean-Christophe uses something in his maceration water or not. Where he is they seem to be able to get an enzyme solution that seems to help.
     

  3. Guus

    Guus Member

    Yes, the beak will slide off just like any other bird beak. They are pretty solid and strong, although they can start to flake quite easily. Check the beak therefore regularly when you have started macerating it. When you pull it out from the maceration fluid you can rinse it quickly under very hot water, this will harden the beak a little and makes it more easy to remove it. If it is stuck in some place you might be able to work your way under the beak with a needle. They will come off in plain warm water, water with enzymes and water with ammonia. The skull can be tricky to macerate, they have very strong muscles and tendons attached to their skull, so it might take of couple of weeks. I macerate all parrots and parakeets though, both complete skeletons and just skulls and it works out fine.
     
  4. xxohmycaptainxx

    xxohmycaptainxx Member

    129
    0
    Alright thanks guys! I'll get it in maceration soon then. Really hoping I can articulate it. It has some damage to a few neck vertebrae that may be a bit difficult for me to repair but we'll see. Really wanted Skulls Unlimited to articulate the skeleton for me but their asking price was nearly $800.

    EDIT: Just got the African Gray into maceration. My incubator usually keeps the water temps in the high 90s low 100s, so maceration is very quick for me usually. My big male wolverine, which is currently degreasing, finished macerating in like 4-5 days. There was already some flaking on one small area of the African Gray's beak so I'll be watching it very closely. I expect the beak sheath to be removable in a day or two.
     
  5. Guus

    Guus Member

    Sounds good! You should be able to articulate the skeleton, birds are good to start with and this one has the perfect size too. There is plenty of information here showing how to go through most of the articulation. WBD has a post about a parrot skeleton if I remember correctly, and I posted one about articulating a golden eagle a couple of years ago.
    Concerning the maceration time, you might get rid of all the meat on the outside of the skull in a couple of days, but in my opinion it is really smart to keep continue macerating for an extended period. It's all the stuff inside the bone that is hard to get rid of + by continuing you'll get rid of a lot of grease.
    Looking forward to the result!
     
  6. I've cleaned 2 large parrots by maceration. On the lonely skull, beak sheath come out good after 2 days, but on the ara full skeleton sheaths damaged so fast that they didn't worth putting back on the mount. I have no problem with birds sheaths generally now thanks to Wouter and Guus who are a lot more experienced in birds than me.

    Never used it, it was the Netherlands guys again ;) but it could work good for it too. They mostly use it for ducks because their beak is covered of skin for the largest part.

    Yes several bird skeleton building post.
     
  7. xxohmycaptainxx

    xxohmycaptainxx Member

    129
    0
    Lol I wish it was a good size! I'm not working with a standard African Gray, I'm working with a Timneh African Gray. Its so little, probably a bit larger that a big pigeon. The skull is only about the size of a pool ball. The only things I'm really worried about are the broken neck vertebrae and the ribcage. This'll be my first articulation so I'm just slightly worried. I don't have really steady hands anymore but I'm very big into entomology so I'm used to tiny parts and such so hopefully it won't be an issue. If it ends up being one I guess I'll have to search around the forum for someone who's interested in articulating a Timneh African Gray.

    And @Guus, don't worry I know! I usually leave skulls in for another few days to a week to be sure all the meat inside the bone is gone. And as you said it gets rid of a lot of grease. My wolverine came out of maceration nearly grease free. I've had it in degreasing for 2 weeks at 120*F and almost no grease has come out of it and it looks nice and white. Letting it take its time though cuz I hate finding grease stains months later.
     
  8. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Might want to turn the temp on the wolverine down to 115. They degrease fairly easily. I have yet to have a problem with one unlike deer and bears .. and one cougar that was exceptionally naughty.
     
  9. xxohmycaptainxx

    xxohmycaptainxx Member

    129
    0
    No worries, the temps are are around 115*F already as my AC was fixed so my incubators have cooled off slightly. Air temps in the incubators usually gets around 160*F-180*F but water temps never go over 120*F. Had to reposition the parrot as it was getting way too hot, hopefully no damage was done. Going to check on the beak sheaths tonight and see if they'll come off.
     
  10. xxohmycaptainxx

    xxohmycaptainxx Member

    129
    0
    So I checked the African Gray about 20 minutes ago. Its macerating very nicely. The lower jaw, which I separated from the skull beforehand, has no flesh left on it at all. The flesh on the skull is basically goop that can be easily removed. The upper beak sheath came off cleanly and nicely without any flaking. I wanted to get it into rubbing alcohol to sterilize it and such but I'm out so I put it into the freezer. I'll probably leave it in the freezer until the skull is completely clean. Is this okay? I've read of people doing this with beak sheaths but I wanna be sure the freezer won't damage it. The lower beak sheath was coming off at the points where the sheath met flesh but it was still firmly attached at the tip. I used a pin to loosen it a bit but it still wouldn't slide off, if I tried too hard the pin would just poke through the sheath so I just put the lower jaw back into maceration. I'll check on it again in 12-24 hours and see if the sheath will come off. If not I'll remove the lower jaw from maceration and finish processing it by hand. I really don't want to do that though as I'd have to skip the degreasing step so unless peroxide took out all the grease then the lower beak's bone color won't match the skull's and that will just be really annoying. So here's hoping the beak sheath comes off cleanly. I really can't wait more than 24 hours as some it flaked off when I was trying to remove it.
     
  11. xxohmycaptainxx

    xxohmycaptainxx Member

    129
    0
    So looks like the extra time helped! Checked on the African Gray a little while ago, and with a little wiggle, the bottom beak sheath came off. It was so gross, the bone underneath the sheath was blood red and just looked so awful. The skull is nearly done. The neck detached from the skull and everything is coming loose. The pterygoids, quadrates, are coming loose. Really excited to get this skull done. Once its done macerating I'll degrease for a week or so and then get it in peroxide. Thanks again for those who said maceration would work, I had been so scared to work on this skull for so long as I was afraid of destroying the beak sheaths, so thank you guys!