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First Bird

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by J4D3H2, May 23, 2023.

  1. J4D3H2

    J4D3H2 New Member

    FFFD92E7-60D6-4EC4-A874-71843EC7BF8C.jpeg 3276CB00-E104-4B50-87B9-6D7119C97B3D.jpeg Not enough homework can be done on mounting ducks before doing your first one.
    1. From choosing to wrap my body rather than using foam which in my opinion created a super elongated body. Had I saved my body after skinning I would have a lot better reference.
    2. Piecing together neck material which came out to be thicker than needed also hurting my mount.
    3. An unknown film on my feet webs was observed about 2 hours after painting. Possibly masters blend that bled through mixing with my 50/50 satin sheen and refracted frost. No clue. followed breakthrough manual as best as I could. Bill also needs touched up from rolling around in toolbox painted for several months.

    4. Poorly preening feathers for drying.

    Would love more constructive criticism on this mount. Everything I noticed after the fact has been noted to improve on the next. I do feel like I did a very good job on the fleshing wheel and washing/ degreasing which hopefully prolongs the life of this mount. The wife coming out to the garage fairly often with a screaming newborn made this process mounting my first duck a very challenging one but getting through the bird with the FREQUENT interruptions may be my biggest satisfaction of the whole process. Again I’m thick skinned and hope to hear more ways I can improve. I would love in a few years time to do this on the side from my full time job. I tried to do about a years worth of studying before really putting my hands on anything. It just turned into a love hate frustration once I started to mount the bird. FFFD92E7-60D6-4EC4-A874-71843EC7BF8C.jpeg
    Last edited: May 23, 2023
    pir^2h, magicmick and msestak like this.
  2. BrookeSFD16

    BrookeSFD16 Well-Known Member

    Well...you got your first one mounted, so congratulations. The fact its a Mallard (species) and you made it all the way through is impressive. I did exactly what you did....make a list of the things that went right and the things that went wrong. Before you start your next one, reread the list. Nothing wrong with wrapping a body....just do it as soon as you get done skinning. Use your carcass and make the body match your carcass AND manipulate it for the pose. Same with the neck. At ANY POINT of the bird taxidermy process you can stop and simply put the skin in the freezer. Once you've started the drying process, keep the skin moist (spritzing or rubbing with water). All the feathers must be dry, including the downy and the skin must be moist before you start assembly. Your bird should look amazing and preened almost perfect BEFORE you start assembly...then you just have to train yourself as to where and how to grab and touch it during assembly so you don't mess it up. Then all you have left to fix once posed it what you mauled up.

    This (bird taxidermy) is a craft, just like any other craft, it takes time, repetition, learning to have and use the proper tools and techniques. I literally didn't feel comfortable until about bird 400.

    My advice if you want to excell is to join your State association, go to the conventions, meet other bird taxidermists in your state, develop relationships which will in turn open opportunities for you to visit their shops and learn hands on.
    cuttindux, ozzie, pir^2h and 8 others like this.

  3. J4D3H2

    J4D3H2 New Member

    Thank you Brooke. I always like seeing your mounts like I’m sure a lot of others do. To think I have 399 more till I feel 100% comfortable is scary to think about but I’m willing! After hearing all of the gossip about bird taxidermy being a pain in the butt I still had a sense of satisfaction throughout the whole process. I hope it’s only up from here. Thanks for the reply.
  4. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Do you have any duck mounting videos by Research Mannikins, Taxidermy Training Unlimited, McKenzie or another supply company? If I was going to mount my first duck, I would have one or more videos from each of these before I start. I did that each time I started a first time mount. I have not mounted a duck, but if I ever decide to you can bet I would have those videos in my shop.
    pir^2h and msestak like this.
  5. Crittrstuffr

    Crittrstuffr Well-Known Member

    All the above information is very important to follow. In my opinion your taking on a lot of things to learn. Make it easy on yourself and measure the body of your next duck then buy a body of good quality (Shane,Cory) and then learn how to mount a duck. This is important, if you have two bodies that are close to the size you need and one is bigger and the other slightly smaller. Smaller is always better. When you have that down then try to learn all the things needed to accurately wrap a body of any kind. You get no bonus points for wrapping a body. Good luck
    msestak likes this.
  6. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    It's late but I will point out that the bird still looks dirty. Run down your process of cleaning and drying for us/me. Or it is not dried completely which is a very nooby thing to do. Congrats on your first. My first was a standing bluebill but it looked like it was taking a dump. Yours is much better than mine
    msestak likes this.
  7. J4D3H2

    J4D3H2 New Member

    Wire wheel, 3 maybe 4 washes and rinses with dawn, do not have a tumbler so it was towel dry best I could, gas then blow dry then mount. I can confirm I took my time on the wire wheel and don’t think that’s my issue. Looking back I’m almost certain it’s not drying the bird thoroughly enough.
    msestak likes this.
  8. fowlweatherfowler

    fowlweatherfowler Well-Known Member

    NW Ohio
    My guess is definitely not dry enough but below is a list

    Dawn skin side, detergent feather side, rinse until water is clear

    Spin in washer, gas,towel dry, borax skin, blow dry.

    You need to see all the down fluff and the base of all the feather separate and fluff up too.
    msestak likes this.
  9. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Congratulations on making it completely through your first bird. Many a person has tossed their first and only bird in the trash do to frustration. Follow the advice you have been given, and you'll be showing us some great birds in the future. I started by mounting pigeons as a kid. The first looked like crap. I mounted maybe a dozen more, and the 12th was ugly as the first! My mother told me they were all beautiful, and her encouragement kept me going!
  10. To your own critiques
    1. Don't wrap a body that's bad advice for newbies. You need to learn craftsman ship on how to put them together properly and where things go first and wrapping doesn't help you do that. It looks like you had tried to use a ghost hanger and then had to zip tie another wire to keep it stable . Use excelsior for fire starter for the grill . Buy a shane smith body from McKenzie and go from there. Then you won't need more support wires and learn the right way about craftsmanship. Use a 8 gauge or 10 gauge straight wire for a black duck. Your bird isn't shaped correctly. It looks like a pancake chest.
    2. Neck is too thick . You need a neck piece of foam and trachea piece to have proper neck shape. Your other issue is the head neck junction it's incorrect. The way you have it is down too far creating a dead zone on back of skull.
    3. Throw masters blend in the trash. It has no preservation properties and will kill bugs and you with the smell before it does anything. You've got shrinkage which happens.
    Use smoothcast 300 it's liquid plastic . It's cheaper easier to use and safer.the film on your legs is either oily and it's the blue of masters blend or tacky and hard and that would be the red of masters blend . I don't know what refracted frost is. But I can guess it's a rattle can spray. Don't bother with that. All you need for legs is matte clear then flat modge podge over. Make sure you have your room humidity controlled that's why you may have had the weird sheen if it was cloudy colored
    4 . Your bigger issue. That bird isn't fleshed properly.. looked at all the directions the feathers are going in mini groups. They should all be uniform and evenly spaced. On the flesh side you should see no yellow or orange . You should be able to see each individual quill of the feathers. With that your bird would fluff up nicely and be cleaner . I can tell in a month or three on the stomach if you run your hand over it it'll feel greasy . Have your skin wet and soapy while you flesh.

    Now for the stuff you didn't address .
    You never need pins in the eyes ever they should freely lay on the glass eye . With proper fleshing and right clay work .
    With wrapped body your flight web isn't pinned in right spot . Would be easier with foam body and pin right on outside of top of shoulder . Don't forget birds have two flight webs each side. Front and back webs.
    Your foam your using to keep wing feathers in right order is in wrong spot. Needs to be in middle of the primary feathers. Yours is over wing bones . Won't do no good up there . If your using that method you need a 12 to 14 gauge wire inside the foam to keep shape and support the wings. Then use pins to align and hold in place while drying. For a newbie might be easier to tape one small group at a time and cardboard it for shape and stability. But that's all preference.
    Tail feathers out of order.
    Use a little bit of cotton for fill in the cheeks . You'll only need enough to give it some loft and not like it's got a wad of chew or dip in there
    There's no right or wrong on how often to wash a bird. Some are very clean to start others are dirty. You can only go by how clear the water is. If waters still dirty the birds still dirty.
    Get rid of the gas that belongs in camp stoves . Towel dry the bird and blow dry it . It doesn't degrease the bird skin. That's what the wire wheel is for.you don't need a tumbler or spin wash in the washer . Pull it out of your sink. Towel dry the inside of the skin and outside and your good to blow dry. If you tumble good chance you'll rip skin and pain in butt to get grit all out of it .
    Keep at it. Good luck. Small steps
    msestak likes this.
  11. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    If one wants to tumble, one can do as I do. I have a big tote filled 1/2 way with cob grit and I hand tumble until the down starts to fluff and then on to the pet drier. From parakeets to turkeys.
    msestak likes this.
  12. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Hand tumble in corncob grit. I have a plastic tote filled 1/2 way.
    msestak likes this.
  13. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    Some great info here. One thing you'll notice is that one person says do something this way forget the rest, another person says the opposite. Take psutaxi's great post above. I completely disagree with some of his comments, but they work for him. And there are stuff he says I completely agree with. Is he right and me wrong or vice versa. Well we both are. You need to take all advice and try it and determine what works for you

    Now back to my questions

    Being a noobie and using a wire wheel and you made it through a mallard (read Brooke's post about this) and didn't comment about how bad you tore it up makes me think it's nowhere clean enough. For the longest (years)I thought my birds were clean until I attended a seminar and saw one being done and clean. My eyes were opened. Along with all the anatomy problems and skin placement (yes use a good foam body) Until you get it cleaned AND dried completely, it will always look funky.

    Don't despair we've all been there. I've seen some of Brooke's first competition pieces and giggled at her. Boy, has she stuck my foot in my mouth since then!! Maybe we'll be saying the same about you in the future!!
    socalmountainman and BrookeSFD16 like this.
  14. Kostyniuk-outdoors

    Kostyniuk-outdoors Alberta free and proud

    First bird is always the toughest. Congrats on getting through it!

    For fleshing- I do suspect as others have mentioned that the skin side may not be fleshed quite well enough- mallards are one of the toughest birds to flesh.. there is a very fine line between not fleshed enough and massive holes torn in the skin haha. I absolutley despise fleshing mallards, and wood ducks. Every feather quill should be visible. It comes with practice as you can also overflesh- you want a little bit of the connective tissue between the quills still there so that the skin doesnt "let out" like a dishrag. Attaching a pic of a specklebelly I did recently- the white color is because I personally tan my birds- you do not need to do that its preference. But note how each and every feather quill is visible.

    Washing and drying is 75% of a good mount- you cannot over rinse a bird skin. I use dawn on skin side- 2-3 cold washes with one rinse between each. Then a VERY QUICK 2-3 minute max hot water and dawn wash to get any remaining grease- immediately after into a cold rinse. then tide detergent on feather side. Then I rinse at least 6-8 times. often 10-12 times. This is the washing procedure I learned from the the Blue ribbon birds DVDs-- highly reccomend these btw- some of the most in depth waterfowl dvds out there.

    You MUST rinse until the water stays clear- its easy to think its clear when its not. to test- fill a clean bin with fresh water- take your rinsed- wet duck skin and squeeze any remaining moisture into the bin of fresh water. if the drops of water that come out are any cloudier than the fresh water then you are not done rinsing.

    Drying- rule of thumb is when you think your feathers are dry- your about half way to the dried point. If its fleshed properly- and washed properly- and rinsed clean- when dry the bird skin will look fully groomed before you even start mounting it. A properly cleaned and fully dried bird will literallly seem to mount and groom itself as you sew it up.
  15. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    May I ask which tan you use?
  16. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    For a first mount that isn't that bad. Repetition and correction of previous errors will eventually create a decent mount. I have to say that bird looks a lot better than my first mount when I was twelve years old. You have got a lot of good advice here from folks who probably forgot more than I will ever know!

    What I want to add...
    1) Buy a mankin for reference and if want to do a wrapped body use the manikin as your starting point. They didn't have these back when I started (as far as I know anyways) doing taxidermy. Just last week I had a squirrel I wanted to mount in a specific position and even Ellzey didn't have this form so I did a wrapped body. Wrapping is a good skill to obtain...eventually. With the price of manikins, need I say more?

    2) Liquid Tide with oxy does a lot better job than Dawn in my opinion and you only need to wash it once, not two, three of four times! I use mineral spirits, never tried the gas method so I can't comment on which I think works better. I blow dry the feathers outside. That smell of spirits can give a person a headache!

    Keep at it and it will get better. Too many folks give up too early because their first mount, second mounts didn't look so good. Keep that mount so you can see how far you have come. I wish I had! '

    Congrats on getting the first one done.
  17. Josiahjones

    Josiahjones New Member

    My first bird was a malard and let's just say I threw away the evidence. Lol get more birds and keep practicing you'll find things get way better with each one. I'm a year in with 20 birds of my own just practicing and still have things I'm trying different. Reference and proper fleshing and washing is the most important part
    pir^2h likes this.
  18. GotHonks

    GotHonks Well-Known Member

    Some really , really great Info right there wish I had help like this when I first started mounting birds 25 yrs ago woulda saved me lots of time and trouble .. One thing as its been stated dont bother mounting the bird unless you get the skin prepped correctly and completely fluffy dry and ready to mount IMO its the most important step ... , nothing much I can add other than PRACTICE on as many birds as possible .. I started out with a freezer full of 20 to 25 Ring necks I mounted when I first started bird taxidermy and they're not one of the easier birds to mount ... I hate divers but they're much more forgiving than dabblers , skin is much tougher hard to tear even on the wheel .. but the bones all have marrow that should come out first ...and they stink till completely dry no matter how many washes .. BTW That wash method is the best way to do it no question , but it takes a lot more time .. & With Taxidermy you really dont want to rush anything . That info is the stuff they used to keep a secret ...Thank you all for giving out such great info it helps not just the newbies ...
    pir^2h likes this.
  19. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    I've been doing this now for 46 years and picked up some ideas in this thread I'm going to give a try!!
    cuttindux, BrookeSFD16 and pir^2h like this.