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Bird necks

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by pjhunter17, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. pjhunter17

    pjhunter17 New Member

    I'm just curious after talking to a taxidermist who dose worlds competitions I was wondering what people use for neck material on ducks? Right now I'm using Joe Ferebee flexible neck but what do you use for competing for realism?
  2. txoutdoors

    txoutdoors Active Member

    I know several that use "backer rod" that is used in concrete construction. You can get it in different diameters. Here is a link to show you what I am talking about:

    It's good and bad in my opinion. Good because its cheap and easy to get. Secondly, you can carve the foam at the top of the neck to create a good head to neck junction. It's bad in that it tends to kink when doing a hard bend in the neck such as a standing pose with the head low and back.

    I personally use reinforced cotton from Sally's beauty supply.

    This stuff....http://www.sallybeauty.com/Professional-Salon-Coil/SBS-504201,default,pd.html?cm_mmc=iPfeeds-_-GoogleShopping-_-Salon_Suppliescotton-_-SBS-504201&gclid=CMTUrZzvt8cCFUQvgQodAY8HZw

    It doesn't kink and I can make whatever diameter I need by how much I wrap around the wire. I do my necks in 2 parts - windpipe and neck itself. For the windpipe, you can simply pull out a length of cotton and wrap thread around it to form a small diameter length of cotton. For the neck, I use annealed wire and wrap cotton around it until I get the desired diameter. Then I wrap both together to form the overall assembly. Here is an example:

    Hope this helps. I am sure that there are a ton of other ways, this is just my preference.

    BTW, annealed wire is a key component.


    WTRFWLN New Member

    For competition birds I wrap with cotton finished with common yarn. You can control the density of the neck and also shape it better than backer rod. Feather quills (while rather small if any in the neck area) will hold to the yarn rather well and taxing the skin up and staying in place is easier? JMO
  4. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member

    TX did you ever try partial relief cuts in the backer rod (notch out and remove)?

    I have had good luck with it. It gets rid of most if not all the kinking .

    good luck
  5. txoutdoors

    txoutdoors Active Member

    No I have not tried that. Good idea!

    I can't seem to run a wire in the stuff and keep the wire centered and that bothers me as well. I will stick with my cotton. lol
  6. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member

    I have seen others slit the foam on the side (half way through), insert the wire, and then glue the slit shut.

    Except on long necks, I have had good luck just pushing it down the center.
    Try not having an angle to your cut end of wire that you are feeding through or sharpen it like a pencil on your bench grinder. It may work better for you.
    If it is angled it seems to want to steer one way or another. Perhaps I am wrong. ?

    Good luck!
  7. vmax

    vmax Member

    I know I am going to strike a lot of nerves on this one and let me say that this is only my OPINION and a lot of years worth of experience....with that being said, the only good use for the foam necking material is to take up space in a drawer collecting dust. It causes more problems that it solves It is by no means a time saver!!

    - As mentioned it's very very difficult to place a wire in the center through the entire length of the neck. Then you end up having to bend the wire to straighten out the foam neck.
    - No amount of relief cuts will keep the neck foam from kinking or becoming wider at a bend.....Then because, you have bent the wire to straighten out the foam, your bend will take an odd shape taking the foam along for an unknown ride.
    - There is no way to keep the foam from spinning around on the wire to keep your relief cuts in the correct place. Seeing that after the skin is on is very difficult and allows for no adjustment afterwords.
    - The foam material is round...so you go to carving....the time you take trying to get smooth, parallel lines is quite time consuming and lets not forget...when you make a bend the foam neck will twist around the wire putting your oval shape in the wrong place. The same will happen when if you glue a small round piece on the bottom to create an oval piece.
    - Structurally it has no value or rigidity, so you will need to use larger than normal wire to not have a floppy neck, making tight bends very difficult and no where near natural looking
    - Then you need to glue it onto the head and body.....can't use hot glue here because it melts the foam necking and now you have a big gap of no support between the head and body unions.

    - It's handy to run inside the neck when fleshing and drying

    I started my bird career using foam necks, but quickly learned that it was not a good thing to use. Even the foam necks from the manufacturer are not a good choice.

    In my opinion the only way to go is wrapping your own using cotton batting or macrame chord. I personally use macrame chord and love it. I have all three sizes 4mm, 6mm & 8mm. The size of the bird determines the size of chord I use. I can build a neck in an average of 7 minutes and the wire is perfectly centered....I don't need any relief cuts...natural bends that do not spread when you bend it....Hot glue does not melt it....the strength and rigidity is awesome allowing for smaller size wire and some time even copper wire and I can use a hammer to pound it into an oval shape and as a final touch, once I have the neck pre-bent I wrap it with one layer of electrical tape so the skin slides smoothly over and the chord does not suck the moisture out of the skin.....I love the stuff!!!!!

    One you learn how to use it, you will never go back....some folks even use the real vertebra and wrap will cotton, but taking the time to clean the neck is a hassle.

    AGAIN....this is just my opinion and not meant to step on any toes!!!!!!!
  8. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member

    No offense taken at all. Glad to see you found something that works for you too.

    Perhaps I do my necks different than others. Meaning, I do not attach the neck to the body until after it is inserted into the neck skin and the head is then attached. That way my neck is pre--bent close to the desired shape and when I insert it into the skin I make sure the top of the foam stays on the top. I draw a line with sharpie down the top center of the foam. This works for me. I use to attach the neck to the body prior to inserting into the skin/feathers. I had all kinds of issues with that trying to get the neck skin centered on the body/neck. It was always twisting and out of line. Now that has gone away for me. Plus, I do a better job of making sure the skin is taxied up onto the neck, the other way it always hung up on the body and was harder for me to move.

    Thanks for presenting what works for you. If others want, then perhaps they have a couple of different options to try.

    I will have to give your way a try too. :)
    I always like trying out new methods.

  9. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    the foam backer rod makes a good base..use a smaller diameter and wrap a thin layer of cotton around it...building it up in the crop area....this helps absorb oils etc and will keep feathers in place to give good fluff....you can make a wrap around neck ,then back around rump end of form and back up around neck...do this several times and it makes for a very solid attachment for flying mounts........then you can use a wrap of cotton or a thin pc of rope for a windpipe.....cotton alone is hard to get evenly formed and tends to get lumpy .....for a standing mount just use a smaller dia rod and "stuff" small balls of cotton to form windpipe and nape as you go....either way you must have a very good understanding of the anatomy of your subject and the actions the mount is portraying.
  10. mallard1

    mallard1 New Member

    Page Nethercutt does it very effectively, teaches it well, and, he produces Great mounts. Cotton rope as he calls it is definitely the way to go.

    All of the observations offered up by others here about the drawbacks of backer rod are correct.
  11. nate

    nate Active Member

    Stick whatever you want in there. It's all about making it work
  12. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    you can use a garden hose if you know what you are doing..........
  13. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member


    I tried the corded neck material per your recommendation. Like you said, it is very rigid. The thing I didn't like it is so hard to adjust/bend after you have the bird mounted up. When I am changing the bird's attitude, I invariably am tweeking the neck bends. Couldn't do that with the corded material.

    You also had mentioned how the backer rod material spins on. That got me to thinking, it used to do that for me too until I switched to now using solid #12 copper wire instead of various "steel" wire. No spinning, plus it is so much easier to adjust the neck wire and get a nice "S" shape.

    I see you deleted some of your postings. Sorry to see that, you had some good comments for us.

  14. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    thanks buck...I try to do all my neck bending and shaping before putting the skin on...you need to do a lot of reference study and planning ,I am usually not forced to rush my bird mounting so like to have everything "mapped" out as to pose...have base ready,etc. What I really miss is 13 GA wire..........mostly the foam backer rod works best for flying mounts,there I wind a string around top of neck foam and back around rump of form several times then around neck to lock it into place....some use hot glue to foam forms,but I wrap my forms...except large geese and cranes,turkey
  15. vmax

    vmax Member

    Ever since I contributed to this thread I have made it a point to keep track on how long it takes me to go from no neck to posed and ready to insert into the skin using my macrame chord method. I was curious for my own knowledge.

    I have done two geese flying with standard lazy-S necks. Two standing barrows golden eye with one having a low resting head turned 90 deg to the body and the other in preening his scaps. One blue wing standing preening a partial open wing and an old squaw with the same pose and a surf scoter swimming.

    So, I have a good variety of sizes and lengths to get a good average. May average time to build and pose a neck for the 7 birds is 3 minutes. I was actually surprised feeling like it took longer.

    For all my standing birds I have switched to copper wire and never looked back. Much easier to work with and I can control the strength and stiffness buy how tight I wrap the macrame chord.
  16. twinrivers

    twinrivers Active Member

    I do mine the way Wraith does and will never use anything else again. Try it once and I think you will agree.
  17. KDPSR

    KDPSR New Member

    Is there a tutorial or more in depth intructions on using the macrame cord on here some where?