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Barn Owl (with permits)

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by Becky, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. Becky

    Becky Guest

    I will be mounting a Barn Owl for my local nature center, and I have all the necessary permits. Now, I have done hawks and osprey, but I have never mounted an owl before. What is the best way to skin out the head? I am assuming there will need to be an incision, but where is the best spot you recommend? Or, can the head actually be turned? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Becky, you can make an incision on the back of the skull if you need to, but lately, I haven't made any. Here's what I do.

    Skin it down to the neck atlas. Press the head against a table and then cut the base of the skull open and remove the brains. Take a good fish skinning spoon tool (like for cheek meat) and lift the hide around the skull. Put in some DP all the way around.

    MOST IMPORTANT, DO NOT REMOVE THE EYES. They have a boney globe that will be almost impossible to replicate. Instead, take a SHARP scalpel and cut out the iris of the eye. Remove all the water and lens from inside and DP it as well as the interior eye socket area. This is all done through the eyelid openings. Fill the boney glove with clay and then set your glass eye atop it. Then I open the mouth and remove the tongue and fill that area with DP, shake it out and fill with clay.

    Mount the rest of the bird conventionally.

    I just had a barred owl go out the door this way. I thought I'd saved a picture of it, but if I did I can't find it. No matter, it still will work great and you won't have any seam to worry about other than your usual skinning opening.

  3. BeckyBird

    BeckyBird My Baby Bluebirds

    Thank you George. I never would have thought to do it that way, especially about the eyes. And skinning all the way to the neck makes sense, because they have such short necks anyway. This owl actually belonged to the nature center....he was an injured bird that they used for school demonstrations. The handler was very sad when he died, so I will do my best on this beautiful bird. Of course, there will be pictures to show you all!
  4. BigSwede

    BigSwede Member

    Hi Becky,

    in Sweden we can mount several spieces of owls legally,and I usually skin them out just like a duck - around the beak. They have very large mouth openings and the head skins out easily this way. You can then either cast the head or use the origininal skull. George are absolutley right about keeping the bone globes. One more thing, keep the whole legs including the upper part all the way to the thighs. And DONT tumble the skin in sawdust - it clings to the downy feathers and are a pain in the ... to get out. I use potato starch. (I think that´s the name for it in english.) They are fun to mount, in fact one of my favourite birds to do. Good Luck!
  5. Barn Owls have small heads in relation to other Owls, and the head can be turned the whole way through with no problem, right down to the base of the beak. Leaving the Eye rings definitely helps in setting the eyes correctly, but on Barn Owls I have done, I simply draw enough digrams of the head and take measurements and create the eye placement with hot glue - which I also use to set the neck wire into the head. Skinning the eyes will allow you to thoroughly clean the skull much better than George's method. If you leave the eye-ring, you can cleanly slice the cornea right off the eye-ring and set the eye right on top of it. Make sure you use lots of borax.

    One observation though you will find - Owls do not have short necks - they just have an inordinately shaped s-bend in the positioning.. You should look through the archives of the old site as there are many posts on mounting owls which will give other pieces of information like sewing up the apteria in the breast area, and tieing in the ears into the skull as you evert the head.