So I decided after the cracked dolly heads, the skulls and bones, I would have a go at taxidermy. And on that day a chaffinch dropped dead in my parents garden. After a month in my freezer I decided to give it a go. So I grabbed the essentials
Step 1: Chaffinch Taxidermy (1st Attempt, Graphic Photos, You've Been Warned!)
Tweezers, scalpel, cup of water to keep hands clean and insides moist, chaffinch, bottle of wine and minimal reading about how to taxidermy on the web. Now, I wasn’t sure if you should do this from frozen… but, the first cut is the deepest
And it was at this point I realised how skinny and fiddly little birds could be. I should have started on a rabbit. Maybe not at all. Wine still unopened.
I’ve got to admit there were points now where I was surprised how easy it was to peel the skin off the insides and I managed to get the breast and guts out very easily. Although cutting the neck bone was a bit daunting. I’m sure the chaffinch had broken its neck in the first place as it was pretty loose and the neck bones started falling out. After that there was snipping the wings and feet out, making sure to get as close as I could without snipping them off. Then I noticed the tail
Step 2: Chaffinch Taxidermy (1st Attempt, Graphic Photos, You've Been Warned!)
This was when I realised the pelvic bone had not come away with the main part. It turned out to be pretty easy to peel off though and a few snips to separate from the tail. Now, the brain. I’ll be honest I have no idea to get it out. I had a few pokes and prods and more neck bones crumbled out. Decided to leave it, I didn’t really want to suck it out with a straw.
So then, one hollowed out chaffinch. Didn’t take as long as expected, about 20 minutes, and surprisingly the bottle of wine is intact and there were no losses of stomach fluids. (Just realised the photo has been taken on a weightloss advert, apt!)
Now for drying and cleaning, used a mixture of corn flour and soda crystals, I’m figuring it’s the same as borax and corn starch that was recommended on the US taxidermy instructions. Not sure how long to leave it, guess it’s best to leave it over night. Round two will be fun, I’m shit at sowing.
Step 3: Chaffinch Taxidermy (1st Attempt, Graphic Photos, You've Been Warned!)
So, I said I was going to wait at least a day until I attempted part two, but, I got impatient. So out came the cotton wool, a bit of twisted wire and some thread.
So, the first thing to do was stick the wire up into the brain, the brain that is probably still there, but we will try and forget about that bit for now. Then start to stitch up at the neck. Yep, I’m seriously bad at sowing. Thankfully I was taking special care not to sow up the feathers, so they hid the sowing sins!
It was fiddly as hell to be honest, but I’m surprised I didn’t tear any of the skin, a lot of the sites said first time you probably would. That wire dislodged a few times too. But I got into it, so into it that I forgot to take any more photos… Til the end!
And this is the finished chaffinch. I’m amazed it didn’t come out like a one legged mutant screaming to be killed. Thinking of a way to get wire into the legs and wings to make it fully posable.
So, a few things I have learned on the way
1. I think taxidermying a frozen bird might be easier than a just dead one, a lot less blood and gore. Believe me when the other bits thawed out they looked and smelt horrendous!
2. I’m shocked I didn’t throw up, to be honest I looked at the gutting bit as cutting up a chicken and the sowing bit as sowing leather.
3. I think EVERYONE that eats meat should do this at least once in their lives. If you can get through it and eat meat after then you deserve to be a carnivore
Not sure if I will do this again, but it was pretty fascinating.