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Saving pin feathered birds

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by s7ducks, Dec 6, 2015.

  1. s7ducks

    s7ducks Member

    Hello every one,
    I think I may be on to something. I've been doing birds for at least 15 years and always had pin feathered birds turn out like crap or just plain junking them due to feather loss. This season I decided to experiment on a heavily pin feathered Widgeon of my own and a Mallard Drake. The Mallard was super sentimental to the guy and he wanted me to "Try anything" to save it.

    So this is what I did, both birds had a very heavy layer of fat, so immediately after skinning I put the entire skin in denatured alcohol for about 15 minutes. At first it looked like a huge mistake. The skin shriveled up in the thin areas, but still remained somewhat flexible especially in the heavy fat areas. I then went to my normal wire wheel and and started de-fatting the bird as normal. much to my surprise the skin was a little tougher and it cleaned up very well.

    Next I dunked the skin in hydrogen peroxide to remove all the blood from the skin and feathers. That kind of "plumps up" the skin and starts to lift the surface grease from the bird. Next was a soak for a couple minutes in water and Dawn dish soap, this starts the "re-hydration" on the skin. At this point I noticed I was not loosing any feathers. Normally after de-fatting and initial cleaning the bird starts loosing lots of feathers. The denatured alcohol did exactly what I hoped it would. It shrank and tightened the skin and "Set" the feathers.

    After the dawn I mixed Grease buster as per the instructions and soaked like it says on the bottle. This step also completely re-hydrated the skin, but still no feather loss. The final step is mixing WASCO True Tan bird tan as per bottle. The directions say soak at least 2 hours, I left it in over night. The bird tan also contains alcohol but it is isopropal "rubbing alcohol, it has a much different smell than the denatured.

    After soaking overnight I took the skin out of the tan. The tan had really toughened up the skin ZERO lost feathers. I dried and tumbled as usual and final fluffed with compressed air. I mounted the bird as usual and it turned out fantastic. I could not tell it was molting and had pin feathers. I did this with both birds my Widgeon first then about 3 days later I did the Mallard.

    This was the first time I ever had a pin feathered bird look even half way decent. Most of the time because of the massive loss of feathers the birds turned out "Lumpy" looking or had a "greasy" look because it never fluffed up right.

    Give this a try on your next molting bird, you might just save an otherwise junk bird.
  2. Great tip, I would not have thought of DA like on fish scales.

  3. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    Thanks for Sharing!
  4. nate

    nate Active Member

    Sweet!! Thanks again for sharing!!
  5. tom k

    tom k New Member

    Is there a difference between rubbing alcohol and denatured alcohol. Just wondering
  6. bowelk

    bowelk Member

    Thanks for sharing Duck! I look forward to trying your procedure. I always get a few pinned birds every hunting season.