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Help With Feather Slippage?

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by Amateur Xavier, Nov 23, 2019.

  1. Amateur Xavier

    Amateur Xavier New Member

    Before I write anything, I want to put forward that this was my first bird and I expected mistakes. I did not expect it to utterly fail as bad as it did but that’s what happened so oh well.

    Regarding this post, I am curious if some of you more experienced folks can help me find an answer to this dilemma. I started a wood duck a few weeks back (first mistake being choosing a wood duck to start on). I was able to skin it nicely, no holes. The fleshing is where it got bad. I don’t have a fleshing wheel (one is on its way) so all fleshing was done by hand. I spent hours fleshing it to what I thought was good enough, even though the skin was basically Swiss cheese. At this point I nearly considered quitting but kept going. I took the bird and washed it in lukewarm water with dawn, and gave it a bunch of rinses in cold water. I grabbed my girlfriends hair dryer and blow dried the bird, and once those feathers started fluffing back up I felt reinvigorated that this was gonna turn out! Mistake 2, I used hot air when I think I should have used cold air, might be my problem.

    Anyways, I then put the skin in a ziploc bag and put it in my fridge crisper (mistake 3). Unfortunately it was left in there for about 2 weeks both because I forgot about it and because I was waiting on parts for it. The parts came in, and when I pulled the skin out and opened the bag it smelt awful, indicating I needed to flesh it more. I put it into another dawn bath to help get rid of the smell but noticed there were a lot of small feathers coming off of the bird. I ignored it for now, rinsed the bird and spent another few hours fleshing more and sewing up the new holes. Once I was satisfied (much better job done this time), I went to was the bird once last time. It was at this point that I realized something was wrong. While washing, all of the feathers from the breast up to the head came off. Like just washed right off. The bird is now in the garbage, great first start to taxidermy.

    So anyways, I’m curious if anyone can tell me how to prevent this from happening again?

    is it from over-fleshing? Leaving it unfrozen between stages? (I.e in the crisper). It was an early October bird, was it due to pin feathers? Was it the hot air?

    I get disheartened easily, especially on something I spent so much time doing but I love doing this stuff, any help on how to avoid this happening again would be awesome!
  2. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Probably all of the above.
    bucksnort10 and magicmick like this.

  3. Jim McNamara

    Jim McNamara Well-Known Member

    If you know what pinfeathers look like you should know weather that was part of the problem. The long storage in the fridge did you in. You did not mention borax or preservative. Did you use any? Not that it would have saved you but it’s normal to dust the skin side with borax once it’s clean. Do your prep in stages as time allows but keep the skin frozen if you need to take a long break. I process mine wet till ready to mount and keep the skins in a very cold refrigerator. If it’s longer then two days till I can mount it it’s going in the freezer. Once I blow the skin and feathers dry it’s getting mounted. Hair dryer is fine, just don’t cook the bird with it.’keep the air moving and not too close either. Your storage really was the better part of the problem.
  4. Amateur Xavier

    Amateur Xavier New Member

    Thanks for the advice! I hadn’t used borax on the skin before I put it in the fridge, but like you said, probably wouldn’t have helped. Next time I’ll be more conscientious of my storage!
  5. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Do you have any DVDs?
  6. Amateur Xavier

    Amateur Xavier New Member

    Not yet, I do most of my learning from books and YouTube. Getting DVDs is on my horizon though!
  7. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    DVDs will save you a lot of head and heart ache. I'd wait until I had some, not a, but some DVDs before I did another.
  8. GotHonks

    GotHonks Well-Known Member

    Yup , couple things .. Pinfeathers are always a problem and when your learning they make it even more of a challenge .... If I skin a bird loaded with pins 90% of the time I won't bother mounting it .... Some guys can deal with them ..I don't unless I have too ...
    next up is storage in between time like above more than a day or two and bacteria will cause feather slippage , I like to keep a refrigerator on the coldest setting which almost frezzes the bird skin , bacteria won't grow in frezzing temps so it's ok ... Just keep at it , mounting birds takes lots of time and even more practice ... Just get the basics down first ..... You will find that starting with a good clean skin is key to producing good work ... Keep at it .... And start using decent birds without broken bones and pin feathers ... Beginning you don't wanna start out with hard to mount birds ..