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First Time Bird Maceration

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Ouliana Nikolaeva-Hir, May 26, 2020.

  1. Ouliana Nikolaeva-Hir

    Ouliana Nikolaeva-Hir New Member

    Hi all, I am new to the forum and new to taxidermy. I mostly collect bones on hikes and have never macerated anything before. I found a dead bird that was completely in tact and so I've been trying to macerate it. I started on May 11th and from doing more research I'm not sure if this is the best way to de-fleshing the bird to get the bones. I live in a family neighborhood with pets so I am worried about them accessing the water I pour off. I did not remove the hide or meat from the bird before placing it in the water. Overall I made a lot of rookie mistakes and I was wondering if anyone can help me get the bones from this bird or let me know if this is a lost cause and I should dispose of the bird deep in the woods.
  2. LostNewbie

    LostNewbie Member

    If you still have the bird, take it out of the water and begin to pull the feathers off. The feathers don't break down with maceration and can cause it to last a long time, or be unsuccessful. This process WILL stink but it's the only way to save it. I would also use a scalpel or exacto blade to remove as much flesh as possible. after that, since bird bones are tiny, put the carcass into a mesh bag and then back into the water. Birds tend to macerate fast, but the bones are very delicate. If you have one, put an aquarium heater set to around 90 degrees F into the bucket of water, fully submerged to speed up the process. If not, put the bucket in a spot where there is a lot of sun during the day, or somewhere warm. Dispose of the water weekly by digging a hole and pouring the water in, then covering in dirt so there is minimal smell or exposure to other animals. After 2 or 3 weeks, all the flesh should be gone but if you are unsure, keep it in the water for longer. The bones may be stained a pinkish color, and they are not yet free of bacteria, so you must put them in hydrogen peroxide for a week or two. The store bought concentration is fine, especially for delicate bird bones. After that week, they should appear white but may have yellow spots. The yellow spots are grease, which can be removed by soaking the bones in water with dish soap for 2-3 weeks with the aquarium heater set to 90F again. Grease isn't as common in small birds but the leg and wing bones can be an issue. BUT before you do any of this, identify which species of bird this is. If you are located in the United States, nearly all small birds are protected under the migratory bird act and it is illegal to possess their bones or body parts. If the bird is a sparrow or a starling, it is entirely legal to keep. There is a website that lists the species you aren't allowed to possess so it's useful to check there. If you're located outside the US, check your country's laws. If the bird isn't legal, just take it back to where you found it and leave it there. Best of luck to you!