Introduction: How to Do: Bird Taxidermy (WARNING:CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT.)

Picture of How to Do: Bird Taxidermy (WARNING:CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT.)

This is an instructable inspired by canida's mouse/rat taxidermy. For more information on detailed taxidermy, go search "mouse taxidermy" and you'll probably find it.

to start off, I would like to say:

THIS IS GRAPHIC, THIS HAS GUTS, THIS HAS DEAD (and live) ANIMALS, so please, keep the comments on topic and dont stray into arguments.

thankyou, and enjoy. :)

Step 1: Getting Your Items

Picture of Getting Your Items

you will need cotton balls, borax/cornmeal mixture (for absorbancy), scissors, nail scissors, exacto knives (or box cutters, anything really sharp), wire, thread, a needle, and a dead bird.

oh, and chickens. but they're optional. you'll see later.

Step 2: Find the Non-feathered Patch

Picture of Find the Non-feathered Patch

first part is finding the middle of the breastbone, it is the ridge in the center of the bird's breast. once you find it, get the feathers to part with your fingers. this is the gap where you can find a spot of skin that ISNT covered with feathers.

.... -_-;; my chickens keep getting in the way....

Step 3: First Incision

Picture of First Incision

now, once you've found your "featherless" spot, make an incision from the base of the tail all the way up to within 1cm of the beak with either boc cutters or exacto knife.

Step 4: Open Up!

Picture of Open Up!

okay, simple easy steps over.
now you need to separate the skin from the torso.
this step should be easy because the skin should automatically begin to peel away from the lower membranes.

warning: try not to cut through the feathers, and try to keep the feathers as dry as possible. when they get wet, they get sticky.

note my thumb.

Step 5: Peeling the Skin Away

Picture of Peeling the Skin Away

now, remember how I told you to try to keep the feathers nice and dry?... well, you have to keep the innards and skin damp, so continually dip your fingers in water.

now, here's a good picture of the skin versus the inner membrane. note the "gaping" hole in the throat is the inner membrane tearing. try to avoid this. also, fat resides between the inner membrane and skin, try to keep that attached to the inner membrane.

note: older birds will have more fat than younger ones.

Step 6: Taking Out the Neck

Picture of Taking Out the Neck

now, once you've separated the skin from the rest of the bird, grab the nek like this, making sure to only be holding the skin of the bird (with feathers of course) and snip snip the neck, making sure not to cut the skin.

note: see the big black glob?.. this bird died because of a car, and its neck broke. leaving a blood clot in the neck and leaving the face all bloodied.

Step 7: Brain Surgery

Picture of Brain Surgery

okay. this is the hard part. first of all, you cut off whatever's left of the neck that is hanging off, then you insert the nail scissors into the head and pull out the brains bit by bit... t'would be easier with tweezers... .. just a suggestion.

Step 8: Legs

Picture of Legs

okay, back to the main body..

peel away the skin around the legs the best as you can, then pop the leg throught the skin from the back. (the feathered side)
when you got it mostly through up to the scaley part, snip the leg with the scissors and repeat on the other side.

Step 9: Wings

Picture of Wings

now, do the same thing you did with the legs, minus the popping through part. ... well... basically just snip them off and leave them with the skin. they'll dry nicely.

Step 10: The Back

Picture of The Back

now, this gets a litle trickier. first, start at the neck and gently.. GENTLY peel down the back.

be WARY, there are tendons around the spinal cord and this is where you sometimes tear a hole in the skin...

eek. ... I tore a hole through the skin.
you'll see the severe affects of this later.

Step 11: The Tail

Picture of The Tail

now, once you get down here, you're almost done skinning a bird!

you then snip off the tail (trying to keep meat at a minimal) fom the body, but still attaching to the skin.

the first time I did this, I messed up and cut the WHOLE tail off.

... then my chickens almost ate it.

you'll see my FIRST bird taxidermy at the end...

man, it was horrible.

Step 12: Preparing

Picture of Preparing

now... you've skinned a bird! the next step is to lay the skin out, and sprinkle the borax/cornstarch mixture to ensure absorbancy and disinfect.

should look like this.

Step 13: Stuffing

Picture of Stuffing

now, take a cotton ball and stretch it much like this.
then put it into the bird's neck snugly.
make sure you dont overstuff and be wary of feathers getting in the way.
when you have it in the bird's neck, begin sewing the neck up.

now, once you have the nek sewn up, add another cotton ball for the torso.

depending on the shape and size of the bird, you can stuff them differently. but always keep the neck slim.

Step 14: Stitching Up!

Picture of Stitching Up!

the last part is the most tedius.
stitching the bird up.

be EXTREMELY cautious about feathers getting in the way and try to keep near the edge of the skin.

Step 15: Fixing Your Mistakes...

Picture of Fixing Your Mistakes...

at this point, any place where you've accidently torn the skin should be stitched up.

:) hey, its only m second try!

Step 16: Clean Up!

Picture of Clean Up!

this is where the chickens come in handy....

they LOVE meat!!

Step 17: Gallery1

Picture of Gallery1

my first taxidermy...

Step 18: Gallery 2

Picture of Gallery 2

here's the one I just taught you! and then some!

Step 19: Gallery Part 3!

Picture of Gallery Part 3!

UPDATE 2015:

I made the sparrow in january of 2008. He was sold, so I dont know what condition he is in today.
The pigeon I made shortly after in 2008.
I made the conjoined doves soon after. I only had one and a half dove. (the half was from my cat)
The parakeet I made in 2010. She was actually the reason why I wanted to learn how to taxidermy birds. She was born with some sort of condition that would give her short seizures. One day it was so bad and she died in my hands. I just sat there and held her for an hour.

She's currently in great condition! and as of a year ago, the conjoined doves were in great condition as well! no damage or wear. (they got lost in a house fire last year.) The parakeet however is safely in my room behind glass.

Thankyou for looking at this tutorial!

I originally made this tutorial in highschool, and boy is there a LOT of spelling mistakes amongst other things. I'm pretty much leaving everything "as-is" for posterity sake. I *may* redo the tutorial at some point, but I think this one with all it's flaws and such would just be better. As, this is a tutorial and its important to show how its OKAY to make mistakes! It also shows how to correct mistakes as well. Which I think is important. :) Thankyou for all your views! I never expected this to be popular!


Jsoa (author)2017-10-19

A flock of crows has moved in to the woods around my orchard. They are
all over the orchard and the fruit is not even ripe yet. Is there any
ways to get rid of them besides shooting them? I would hate to have to
net all my trees, normally the birds only go after the really tasty
ones, ut crows will eat everything.

Find only repellers here

tlelzy (author)2014-02-06

hey im new to this but never seen a bird mounted this way how do you pose it with out bone or form or wire

bananabunny7 (author)tlelzy2017-09-14

I don't think you can. I think this was more for skinning, not really to show you how to mount.

lafink made it! (author)2014-04-18

I found your how to brilliant to get tips on how to taxidermy a chaffinch. First attempt and I'm surprised I didn't make a total pigs ear! Made a blog with some very graphic pictures here

Thanks for sharing your work!

bananabunny7 (author)lafink2017-09-14


avalonp3 (author)2014-10-15

Will tis still work if the birds neck is broken? because the bird i have flew into a window and broke its neck....

bananabunny7 (author)avalonp32017-09-14

It will be okay, so long as you wire the neck.

Zrcalo (author)avalonp32015-11-07

Should work just fine, because you are removing the bird's neck anyway form the inside.

Cece z (author)2016-07-08

Hmmm. They need a proper filling, wood wool or a foam form. An the wings and neck need something, wire. This is great taxidermy but it just looks...dead. Great technique, but with proper equipment and tools, it will look jut fine

bananabunny7 (author)Cece z 2017-09-14

I have used stuffing wrapped with yarn and it turned out great. I have only done small mammals however, never birds because I'm afraid of the end result.(feathers are so hard to get in place! ', i )

Zrcalo (author)Cece z 2016-10-19

yep! this is just a very basic tutorial to preserve skins and such.

Jess ChristianP (author)2017-05-23

Can corn starch alone be a good substitute for Borax? I can't find Borax in any stores in our city

jackbrown (author)2016-08-22

Need to figure out a way to eliminate bird mites from the feathers. After a couple of years you will likely have an eruption of them as they reproduce exponentially and start eating everything. Freezing? Waxes? There are a few possibilities.

Zrcalo (author)jackbrown2016-10-19

feather mites typically die off when the birds die and dont damage the feathers further. not only that but soaking the bird in a mild detergent will get rid of them anyway. What usually eats the feathers away later down the road are moths or dermestid larvae.
If you're worried about feather mites in general, you can freeze the specimen 48 hours and it should kill them. If you dont want to freeze, you can always buy a permetherin based powder. aka "chicken powder" from your local feed barn or home depot.

Zrcalo (author)2015-11-07

Updated this a little bit for 2015 at the end! Keeping mostly everything else (including misspellings!) for posterity sake. Thankyou so much for over 8 years of views!

MiriamC6 (author)Zrcalo2016-01-07

Are you still selling some of your work? I am interested in doing some paintings, I have been collecting pictures and I would like to have one real model C:

Zrcalo (author)MiriamC62016-03-19

sure! E-mail me as I respond to that quicker:

callae.wilcox (author)2015-03-05

This was fascinating and very clear and easy to understand! You make great tutorials! I would love to try this, but don't know if I have the guts to try. You are impressive! Have you thought of going in to Medicine or Vetenary? Thank You for this great post, more please!!!

Zrcalo (author)callae.wilcox2015-11-07

I actually went into biology. :3

EdwardC6 made it! (author)2015-05-11

great tutorial, made my own with a stock dove which fell from the sky

Zrcalo (author)EdwardC62015-11-07

:) oh wow that's really awesome!

BernadetteS (author)2014-09-24


lanerenner (author)BernadetteS2014-10-10


lanerenner (author)BernadetteS2014-10-10


lanerenner (author)2014-10-10


michaelj1964 (author)2014-05-28

how do i reanimate a dry wing to fan it out

iamrusky (author)2014-03-11

if i wanted to stuff my bird, but i would like to remove the skull do you have any suggestions on how to remove the skull or would that be a bad idea?

htrøan (author)2013-06-26

Don´t you wash it and dry it before you do anything more? I have seen something about that on TV.
I am trying to find out as much as possible to try to make my first of a bird I found today.

kristell1119 (author)2013-06-24

what advice would you have for some body who wanter to preseve the bones as well?

mholsinger-stitt (author)2012-07-20 you sell your completed works? If so, what is the price? I'd like to start making various dioramas with various small taxidermy but don't want to do the taxidermy myself if possible. Thanks!

Zrcalo (author)mholsinger-stitt2012-09-25

My e-mail is if you're interested in purchasing some.
I have a baby chick I did a while ago I might sell. I also occasionally sell on ebay. If anyone is interested in some pigeons I will probably sell them starting @ $40 ea. Depending on colour, etc. I can also do some house sparrows for $35ea. None will have eyes, as glass eyes are a bit pricey but if you just want them for crafts and stuff, totally willing to do some skins for people.

phunyfarm (author)2012-02-28

Whoops! I just stuck a bluebird my cats killed in cornmeal for six weeks.

The cats had eaten most of the insides, the exterior looked good enough for a first try. I AM COMPLETELY AMAZED @ the results.
Was looking for tips on wiring, was so excited w/ my leetle experiment I HAD to tell somebody..... I'll try this way when I get the guts to kill a cardinal just for me.
This is a fun way to decorate, just fun period Weird huh???

Zrcalo (author)phunyfarm2012-03-01

If you live in the united states, bluebirds and cardinals are 100% illegal to own and kill.

phunyfarm (author)Zrcalo2012-03-01

Did not know that. It makes sense. My 20# barn cat cannot be held accountable. We do call him Ambush though...Thanks for the info..

bbuckley1 (author)2011-08-17

Good post, however it is important to note that state and federal game law should be followed when choosing a species to taxidermy. Inca doves may be everywhere but they can not legally be "taken" by hunters or anyone. These birds are protected under the migratory bird treaty act and should not be a choice for taxidermy unless you have a species collection permit. Rock doves (pigeons) are a perfect choice. They are exotic and invasive species that have very few predators and are free to be harvested throughout the US (as long as you don't shoot them with a shotgun in town).

Zrcalo (author)bbuckley12012-03-01

:) I am well aware of this! My college professor has a license to collect and own native specie birds with my university. We were practicing taxidermying certain species in his collection. He had many inca doves so that was my practice specimen.

IRtaxi (author)2011-10-24

wouldnt it be easier if you used the bones for stuffing?

Zrcalo (author)IRtaxi2012-03-01

Bones do not have the muscle structure on them.. Also you want the stuffing to be soft and maleable.

IRtaxi (author)IRtaxi2011-10-24

such as he kull mostly?

hunterdude1024 (author)2011-09-05

instead of putting cotton could you sew it 3 quarters of the way or so then spray insulation foam in it?

Zrcalo (author)hunterdude10242012-03-01

I wouldnt use insulation foam because it is sticky and expands too much... you would have a very difficult time getting the right form for the bird and keeping the feathers from getting icky.

lmao this made me laugh so hard... just picturing the poor bird over puffed with spray foam... I don't have an answer for you though but im assuming no because it dries hard, does it not? again- totally uneducated guess here lol but I kinda hope it works.

Canadacupcakekiller (author)2012-02-06

Thank u for making this!!! I'm a VERY armature taxadermist. Did u take out the skull? Or just try your best to hollow it out?

:) I hollowed it out and left the skull in.

fcote1 (author)2011-10-04

Fernand Cote · Employer at Self Employed (Business)
Specialized in Skinning - Meat cut & Wrap - Fleshing - Tanning - Taxidermy.

Seeing your display was nice experience to be added towards my works. Thanks.

surroundsound5000 (author)2011-09-16

I got interested in it when I found a dead bat; taxidermed and mounted it:

Now looking for ideas on how to do it properly. Thanks for the well illustrated 'ible!

seanthesheep101 (author)2011-06-29

Is thet were the foots meant to be?!?!

seanthesheep101 (author)2011-06-29

And there's the chicken eating the bird... WAIT WHAT!?!?!?

seanthesheep101 (author)2011-06-29

You need a MASSIVE Nobel prize either way.

seanthesheep101 (author)2011-06-29

There's that chicken that could be headless if I was there

About This Instructable




More by Zrcalo:How to do: Bird Taxidermy (WARNING:CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT.)
Add instructable to: