Bird Taxidermy (WARNING:Not for the easily offended, overly squeamish, holier that thou, fuss-bucket.)

Picture of Bird Taxidermy (WARNING:Not for the easily offended, overly squeamish, holier that thou, fuss-bucket.)
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 the purely bashing morality.

I will accept moral standings, because I believe in freedom of speech, but please... be mature. if not, you will be bashed with a twinkie.
thankyou, and enjoy. :)
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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

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my first taxidermy...

Step 18: Gallery 2

Picture of gallery 2
here's the one I just taught you! and then some!
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EdwardC6 made it!2 months ago

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

callae.wilcox4 months ago

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!!!

avalonp39 months ago

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

BernadetteS10 months ago





lanerenner9 months ago


how do i reanimate a dry wing to fan it out

lafink made it!1 year ago

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!

photo 3.JPG
iamrusky1 year ago

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?

tlelzy1 year ago

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

htrøan2 years ago
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.
what advice would you have for some body who wanter to preseve the bones as well?
Zrcalo...do 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-stitt2 years ago
My e-mail is zrcalos@gmail.com 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.
phunyfarm3 years ago
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)  phunyfarm3 years ago
If you live in the united states, bluebirds and cardinals are 100% illegal to own and kill.
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..
bbuckley13 years ago
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)  bbuckley13 years ago
:) 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.
IRtaxi3 years ago
wouldnt it be easier if you used the bones for stuffing?
Zrcalo (author)  IRtaxi3 years ago
Bones do not have the muscle structure on them.. Also you want the stuffing to be soft and maleable.
IRtaxi IRtaxi3 years ago
such as he kull mostly?
instead of putting cotton could you sew it 3 quarters of the way or so then spray insulation foam in it?
Zrcalo (author)  hunterdude10243 years ago
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.
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?
Zrcalo (author)  Canadacupcakekiller3 years ago
:) I hollowed it out and left the skull in.
fcote13 years ago
Fernand Cote · Employer at Self Employed (Business)
Specialized in Skinning - Meat cut & Wrap - Fleshing - Tanning - Taxidermy. http://www.mastertaxidermist.ca

Seeing your display was nice experience to be added towards my works. Thanks.
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!
Is thet were the foots meant to be?!?!
And there's the chicken eating the bird... WAIT WHAT!?!?!?
You need a MASSIVE Nobel prize either way.
There's that chicken that could be headless if I was there
Umm are you a girl cause I saw nail polish. If you are then you deserve a Nobel prize.
At first I thought that you were holding a gun to it's chest!
If the chicken is in the way chop of it's head it's easier (except for the nerves making It run around smashing into stuff)
Who the hell would want to learn how to stuff a bird!!!!
anyone who shoots a nice bird and doesnt feel like paying a professional to do it great instructible i will try
Loveofchaos JMB7 years ago
dove season opened today! i might have to try this, hope a shotgun wont mutilate the bird too badly
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