Introduction: 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. :)

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Step 1: 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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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...

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!

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

they LOVE meat!!

Step 17: Gallery1

my first taxidermy...

Step 18: Gallery 2

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

Step 19: Gallery Part 3!

Update 2019:


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!

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167 Discussions


11 months ago

Thanks for your post! I was thinking an hour ago, “maybe I’ll try my hand at taxidermy”, looked on line and your post was the first I went to. I try to challenge myself by learning and doing different things. This I’ve never tried and 56yrs old I’m encouraged by want you accomplished as a young man! Keep that “can do, positive attitude” throughout your life, it’s contagious!


1 year ago on Step 12

Thank you! This article is great!
I was looking on how to prepare my birds for my beetles so I could obtain the skeleton, but your article has inspired me to try my hand at stuffing.
An extra thank you for making the article so relatable. Your mistakes taught me as much as your skills.


13 years ago

Who the hell would want to learn how to stuff a bird!!!!


Reply 1 year ago

everyone commenting here, you must be young


Reply 13 years ago

anyone who shoots a nice bird and doesnt feel like paying a professional to do it great instructible i will try


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

dove season opened today! i might have to try this, hope a shotgun wont mutilate the bird too badly


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

actually it will, unless you knock the bird out or break it's neck. my cat killed this bird, and still it was hard to taxidermy because of puncture wounds.


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

A single bb to the head or heart would make such a small hole that the mount would look almost perfect :) But yeah... A shotgun blast will just pepper the thing with holes. No good :( I've mounted a rabbit hit with a shotgun, DAMN that was the hardest thing in the world. Never looked quite right, kinda looked like it had been attacked by biting insects from all of the tufty fixed-hole parts.


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

that might work. though birdshot might be good enough. I dont know. just dont take a shotgun or an ak-47 (lol) up to 'em.


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

will a screw do bad? i have darts with screws... if not, what about nails?


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

:) I know, thats exactly what I'm here for!


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

the real question is why are you on this instructable if you dont want to??


Reply 13 years ago

me. :) I breed rare mutations of various pet birds, sometimes when one of mine die, I feel bad about burying it because of its inherent visual trait, also things that are rare or unusual shoud be preserved. I'm waiting until I'm good enough to stuff my parakeets.


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

Parakeets and budgies and the like are on the easier side of difficult :P Still hard, and you have to scissor off a portion of the skull to de-brain it because the skull won't ever go through the neck, but both of the parakeets I did came up great :) Even looked great after my cat attacked one twice :P