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® Complete ffiufoe 







BY S. E. CASS 1X0 & CO. 



Xo. 4 Pearl Street. 



Twenty-five or thirty years ago amateur col- 
lectors of birds were rare ; in fact, excepting in the 
immediate vicinity of large cities, individuals who 
spent their leisure time in gathering birds for the 
sole purpose of study, were so seldom met with 
that, when one did occur, his occupation was so 
unusual as to excite the comments of his. neigh- 
bors, and he became famous for miles around as 
highly eccentric. Such a man was regarded as 
harmless, but as just a little "cracked," and the 
lower classes gazed at him with open-mouthed 
wonder as he pursued his avocations ; while the 
more educated of his fellows regarded him with a 
kind of placid contempt. I am speaking now of 
the days when the ornithology of America was, so 
to speak, in obscurity; for the brilliant meteor- 
light of the Wilsonian and Audubonian period had 
passed, and the great public quickly forgot that 
the birds and their ways had ever been first in the 


minds of any one. To be sure, men like Cassin, 
Lawrence, Baird, and Bryant were constantly 

writing of birds, but they did it in a quiet, scien- 
tific way, which did not reach the general public. 
Possibly the political troubles in which our country 
was involved had something to do with the great 
ornithological depression which fell upon the pop- 
ular mind. Strange as it may appear, however, for 
a period of thirty years after the completion of 
Audubon's great work, not a general popular work 
of any kind was written on birds in America. Then 
appeared Samuels' " Birds of New England," pub- 
lished in 1867, a work which apparently did much 
toward turning the popular tide in favor of orni- 
thological study, for from that time we can perceive 
a general awakening. Not only did the newspa- 
pers and magazines teem with articles on birds, but 
in the five succeeding years we find three impor- 
tant works on American ornithology announced as 
about to appear: Baird, Brewer, and Ridgeway's 
" History of American Birds," of which three vol- 
umes have appeared, published in 1S74; May- 
nard's " Birds of Florida," issued in parts, but af- 
terwards merged into the " Birds of Eastern North 
America," completed in 1882, and Coues' "Key," 
published in 1872. Other works quickly followed, 


for now the popular ornithological tide was setting 
strongly towards the flood, and it has ever since 
been rushing on and gathering recruits as it goes, 
until the tidal wave of popular favor for orni- 
thological pursuits has reached from shore to shore 
across our great continent ; and where there were 
once only a few solitary devotees to this grand 
science, we can number thousands, and still they 
come ; so that high-water mark is not yet reached, 
while to all appearances this tidal-wave will agitate 
the coming generation more strongly than it does 
the present. 

Of all the vast numbers interested in the study 
of bird life, there are few who do not gather speci- 
mens. Years ago, in the beginning of the study, 
when the solitary naturalist had no one to sympa- 
thize with him in his pursuits, birds' skins were 
usually made in what we would now consider a 
shocking manner. Within the last fifteen years, 
however, since ornithologists have become more 
numerous, and the opportunities of comparison of 
workmanship in preserving specimens has been 
facilitated, great improvements are seen. Slovenly 
prepared collections are now far from desirable ; in 
fact, even rare specimens lose much of their value 
when poorly made up. When there are enough 


experienced collectors in one locality to compare 
notes as to the various improvements each has 
made in skin-making and mounting birds, one aids 
the other ; but there is always a multitude of be- 
ginners who live in isolated localities and who do 
not number experienced collectors among their 
friends, and who consequently require the aid of 
written instructions. Hence the need of books to 
teach them. 

This little work, then, is intended to meet the 
wants of amateur ornithological collectors, wher- 
ever it may find them, for it is written by one w T ho 
has at least had the advantage of a very wide ex- 
perience in collecting skins, making and mounting. 
He has also had the advantage of comparing his 
methods with those of many excellent amateurs 
and professional collectors throughout the country ; 
and if he has not conferred any benefits on them, 
he has at least gained much useful information, and 
the results of all this are now laid before the 

, The art of taxidermy is very ancient, and doubt- 
less had its origin among the very early races of 
man, who not only removed the skins of birds and 
mammals for clothing, but also for ornaments. 
Birds and mammals were also frequently regarded 


as objects of worship, and consequently preserved 
after death, as among the ancient Egyptians, who 
embalmed entire birds and mammals that were 
considered sacred. 

From the rude methods of preserving skins, 
doubtless, arose the idea of mounting, or placing 
the skins in lifelike attitudes. The first objects 
selected for this purpose were, of course, birds and 
mammals of singular forms or brilliant colors, as 
objects of curiosity. Later specimens would have 
been preserved for ornamental purposes, but it is 
probable that it was not until the seventeenth cen- 
tury that either birds or mammals were collected 
with any idea of their scientific value. 

Specimens either mounted or in skins must 
have been rudely preserved at first, but, like all 
other branches of art and science, when people 
began to understand the value of well-made speci- 
mens when compared with those poorly done, 
workmen who became skilled in their art appeared 
and turned out good work. The art of making 
good skins, however, never was understood in 
this country, at least until within the last fifteen 
or twenty years, and even now it is rare to find 
good workmen who can make skins well and 


As is natural, many methods have been prac- 
ticed to insure lifelike attitudes in birds and other 
objects of natural history. A good opportunity of 
studying the various schools of mounting may be 
seen among the specimens of a large museum, 
where material is gathered from various localities 
throughout the world. I have seen birds filled 
with many varieties of material, from cotton to 
plaster, and have even seen cases where the skin 
is drawn over a block of wood carved to imitate 
the body removed. 

As a rule, I prefer the soft body filling, where all 
the wires are fastened together in the centre of the 
inside of the skin, and cotton, or some similar elas- 
tic material, filled in around it. This method is, 
however, very difficult to learn, and, unless one has 
had a large experience in handling birds, will not 
give satisfactory results. I have therefore recom- 
mended the hard body method, as given in the 
text, as being the best, as it is more easily learned 
and always gives the best results in the hands of 

In skin-making, although I have given two 
methods, making in the form and wrapping, I pre- 
fer the latter, as being by far the best, although it 
is not as easy to learn. 


Mounting mammals and reptiles and making 
their skins also varies as given by different indi- 
viduals, but I have given the method by which I 
have found, by experience, amateurs succeed the 

Some may consider the information given in the 
following pages, too meagre for practical purposes, 
but I have purposely avoided giving lengthy in- 
structions, considering a few well-worded sen- 
tences much better, as expressing much more 
clearly the ideas I wish to convey. In short, the 
reader has the condensed results of my extended 
experience, and if he will follow with care and pa- 
tience the instructions herein given, I am sure that 
he will obtain satisfactory results from his labor. 

I have endeavored to inculcate the idea in the 
following pages that he who wishes to be a suc- 
cessful taxidermist cannot accomplish his end 
without the utmost care ; he must exercise pa- 
tience and perseverance to the extreme ; difficulties 
will arise, but he must overcome them by severe 
application to the study of his art, and, as years 
pass by, experience will teach him much that he 
never knew before. I have been assured many 
times, by men who are now skilful workmen, that 
their first ideas of preserving specimens were 


divined from my " Naturalist's Guide." Thus I 
trust the present little work may aid others who 
are entering the fairy land of science, to prepare 
lasting mementoes gathered by the way. 


Boston, Mass. 



Explanation of Plates 


Part I. — Birds. 
Chapter I. — Collecting . . ... . I 

Section I. Trapping, etc. Section II. Shooting. 
Section III. Procuring Birds. Section IV. Care 
of Specimens. 

Chapter II. — Skinning Birds 33 

Section I, Ordinary Method. Section II. Excep- 
tions to the usual Method of Skinning. Section 
III. Ascertaining the Sex of Birds. Section IV. 
Preserving Skins. Section V. Other Methods of 
Preserving Skins. 

Chapter III. — Making Skins 49 

Section I. Cleaning Feathers. Section II. Making 
Skins of Long-necked Birds. Section III. Making 
Skins of Herons, Ibises, etc. Section IV. Hawks, 
Owls, Eagles, Vultures, etc. Section V. Labelling 
Specimens. Section VI. Care of Skins, Cabinets, 
etc. Section VII. Measuring Specimens. Section 
VIII. Making Over Old Skins. 

Chapter IV. — Mounting Birds . . . .64 
Section I. Instruments. Section II. Mounting from 
Fresh Specimens. Section III. Crested Birds. 


Section IV. Mounting with Wings Spread. Sec- 
tion V. Mounting Birds for Screens, etc. Section 
VI. Mounting Dried Skins. Section VII. Prices 
for Mounting Birds. Section VIII. Panel Work. 
Game Pieces, etc. 

Chapter V. — Making Stands 81 

Section I. Plain Stands. Sections II. Ornamental 

Part II. — Mammals. 

Chapter VI. — Collecting Mammals . . .84 
Chapter VII. — Making Skins of Mammals . . 86 
Section I. Skinning Small Mammals. Section II. 
Skinning Large Mammals. Section III. Making 
Skins of Mammals. Section IV. Measuring Mam- 

Chapter VIII. — Mounting Mammals . . .90 
Section I. Small Mammals. Section II. Large 
Mammals. Section III. Mounting Dried Skins of 
Mammals. Section IV. Mounting Mammals with- 
out any bones. 

Chapter IX. — Mounting Reptiles, Batrachians, 

and Fishes 97 

Section I. Mounting Lizards, Alligators, etc. Sec- 
tion II. Mounting Turtles. Section III. Mount- 
ing Fishes. 


Fig. i. — Page 2. 

Sieve trap : B, common coal sieve, set with one edge raised 
by stick A, to vhich is attached the string C, one end of 
which is held by the bird-catcher at a distance. When the 
bird, attracted by the bait, goes under the sieve, the stick is 
jerked out and the sieve falls. 

Fig. 2. — Page 3. 

Ever-ready bird-trap : D, body of trap made of netting 
F and A, hoops supporting netting. A, ring to which are 
attached the wires C, which point backwards. The bait is 
placed within the body of the trap and' scattered through the 
ring B. Then the bird enters at the entrance A, goes 
through the ring B, so on past the wires C, which are 
arranged in a circle to prevent his egress. The bird is 
removed through an orifice in the back, drawn together with 

a tring at F 

Fig. 3. — Page $^- 

Skinning-knife : The handle of this knife should be round, 
and the blade does not close. 

Fig. 4. — Page 37. 

Skull of bird (side view) : Dotted line from A to B shows 
cut to be made in removing back of skull to give access to 


Fig. 5. — Page 37. 

Skull of bird, under side : Dotted lines A, A, A, show cuts 
to be made in removing a triangular piece of bone and muscle, 
to which the whole or a portion of the brain will adhere. 

Fig. 6. — Page 42. 

Dissection of a song sparrow, showing male organs of re- 
production : 1 and 2, lungs ; 3. 3, testicles. The four organs 
below these are the kidneys. 

Fig. 7. — Page 43. 

Dissection of a song sparrow, showing female organs of 
reproduction : 4. lungs ; 1. 1, small yellow glands, present 
in both sexes ; 2, ovaries ; 3. oviduct. These last four 
figures are merely diagrams, only sufficiently accurate in 
outline to convey an idea of the position of the parts indicated. 

Fig. 8. — Page 50. 

Tweezers for making skins, mounting, etc. : Several sizes 
are used, but as a rule the points should be longer than 
those given in the cut. 

Fig. 9. — Page 51. 

Drying forms fastened to a board, D, skin in the form. 
I now use these forms detached. See text. Also, see page 
54 for a better method of making skins which I now practise. 

Fig. 10. — Page 54. 

Form of a skin of an oriole : I now use the long label 
given on page 58. A skin should not be made too full ; a 
dead bird laid on its back will convey an idea of the thick- 
ness of the body of a skin. 


Fig. ii. — Page 64. 
Straight-nosed pliers : Used for bending wires in mounting. 

Fig. 12. — Page 64. 
Cutting-pliers : Used for cutting wires in mounting. 

Fig. 13. — Page 66. 

Body of a bird : E, neck-wire, which should be as long as 
the neck and tongue in order to reach into the upper man- 
dible. This wire should be wrapped in cotton. B, wire before 
clinching ; G, C, wire clinched ; F, tail wire bent in the form 
of a T at H, a leg wire going through tarsus along dotted 
line to D. 

Fig. 14. — Page 67. 

Roughly-drawn skeleton of a pinnated grouse, only suffi- 
ciently accurate to indicate the different bones : A, skull ; B, 
B, B, vertebras ; furcula of neck and back, or wishing-bone ; 
D, forearm ; F, carpus, showing hollow in bone through which 
the wire is to be passed in wiring the wing; G, end of 
furcula ; H, tip of keel ; I, indentations in posterior border 
of stemma; J, femur ; K, tarsus; L, heel ; M, pelvis; N. 
cocyx ; O, crest of keel ; P, side of keel ; X, wire used in 
mounting skeleton ; A, B, ribs. 

Fig. 15. — Page 69. 

Outline figure of grouse showing external parts : A, back ; 
B, rump ; C, upper tail coverts ; D, under tail coverts ; E, 
ventral region ; F, tibra ; G, tarsus ; H, breast ; I, side ; J, 
throat ; N, chin ; L, abdomen ; M, feet. 

Fig. 16.— Page 73- 

Outline drawing of a mounted bird : A, A, dotted line to 
indicate the relative position of the head and body, with the 


perch on which the bird stands ; B, B, winding cotton to 
keep the feathers in position ; C, C, indicating proper posi- 
tion of wings; D, tail feathers "plated." I do not now 
recommend this method. E, E, tail bearing wire ; F, upright 
of gland ; H, horizontal bar of stand ; I, feet of bird on stand ; 
S, leg-wire wrapped around bar after emerging from foot. 

Fig. ij. — Page 92. 

Lower portion of bolt used in mounting large mammals : 
A, movable nut on screw C ; B, immovable flat washer. 





Section I. : Trapping, etc. — Several devices 
for securing birds for specimens may be success- 
fully practised, one of the simplest of which is the 
box-trap, so familiar to every schoolboy. If this 
be baited with an ear of corn and placed in woods 
frequented by jays, when the ground is covered 
with snow, and a few kernels of corn scattered 
about, as an attraction, these usually wary birds 
will not fail to enter the trap. I have captured 
numbers in this way, in fact, the first bird which I 
ever skinned and mounted, was a blue jay, caught 
in a box-trap. I was only a small boy then, so I do 
not now remember what first suggested mounting 
the bird, but the inherent desire to preserve the 
specimen must have been fully as strong then as 
in later years, or I never could have brought 
myself to the point of killing a bird in cold blood. 


In fact, putting the bird to death is the worst of 
trapping; and with me, unless I do it at once, 
during the first excitement of finding the bird 
entrapped, the deed is likely never to be done at 

all. Sparrows, snow-buntings, and in fact nearly 
all birds of this class may be caught in box-traps 
in winter. For these small birds, scatter chaff 
over the snow so thickly as to conceal it, then use 

Fig. i. 

a spindle upon which canary-seed has been glued, 
for bait, scattering some of the seed outside. 
Other traps, however, may be used more success- 
fully for fringilline birds. For example, the clap- 
net trap, where two wings, covered with a net, 
close over the birds, which are attracted by seeds 
strewn in chaff, scattered in the snow. This trap, 
which is similar to those used by wild-pigeon 
catchers, is sprung by means of a long cord, the 
end of which is in the hands of a person who is 



concealed in a neighboring thicket or artificial 
bower. A very simple trap, but excellent for 
catching sparrows, may be made by tilting a com- 
mon coal sieve on one edge, keeping it up by 
means of a stick which has a cord attached to 
the middle (see Fig. i). The birds will readily go 
under the sieve, in search of food, when the trap- 
per, who is concealed at a short distance, jerks out 

Fig. 2. 

the stick by means of the cord ; the sieve falls and 
the birds are captured. This trap requires con- 
stant watching, which, in cold days, is not very 
pleasant ; thus a much better trap may be found 
in one of my own inventions, which is called the 
" Ever-ready Bird Trap." It is made of strong 
netting stretched over wire, and is placed on the 
ground or on a board in a tree. A decoy bird, of 
the same species as those to be captured, is pro- 


cured if possible, and placed in the back of the trap 
at Fig. 2, and then the birds enter the front of the 
trap, B ; pass through the way of wires, C, 
which pointing backward after the manner of the 
well-known rat-trap, prevent their egress. This 
trap is constantly set, and several birds are cap- 
tured at one time. Orioles, bobolinks, rose- 
breasted grosbeaks, goldfinches, snow-buntings, 
all other sparrows and finches, in fact, all birds 
which will come to a decoy or bait, may be taken 
in this trap. 

I have frequently taken jays in small snares 
similar to those used in capturing rabbits. Quail 
and ruffed grouse were also taken in this manner 
before the present time, but it is now illegal to 
trap game-birds in nearly all the States. 

The steel trap of the smallest size is exceedingly 
useful in capturing hawks, owls, and even eagles, 
as well as many other large birds. One way is to 
set it in the nest of the bird, first taking care to 
remove the eggs, substituting for them those of a 
hen. Almost all large birds may be taken in this 
manner, and it is an excellent way to identify the 
eggs in case of some rare hawks or herons. The 
topmost portion of some dead stub, which is a 
favorite roost of a hawk or eagle, is a good place 


to set a trap ; and small hawks and owls may 
be captured by putting the trap on the top of a 
stake, some eight or ten feet high, in a meadow, 
especially if there are no fences near. Hawks and 
owls haunt meadows in search of mice, and in- 
variably light upon a solitary stake, if they can 
find one, in order to eat their prey or to rest, and 
thus are very apt to put their " foot into it," in a 
manner decidedly agreeable to the collector, if not 
so pleasing to themselves. Steel-traps may also 
be set on boards nailed to trees, in the woods or on 
hill-tops, but they should in this case be baited 
with a small mammal or bird. I have succeeded in 
capturing marsh hawks by tying a living mouse to 
a steel-trap, and placing it in a meadow which was 
frequented by these birds. Other hawks and also 
eagles may be captured by using decoys ; the best 
thing for this purpose being, strangely enough, 
a live great horned owl. The owl is fastened to 
a stout stake in an open field or meadow during 
the migration of hawks, in the spring or fall, and 
surrounded by baited traps. The hawks passing 
over are attracted by the novel spectacle of an owl 
in such a peculiar position and come swooping 
down for a nearer view, when they perceive the 
bait, and in trying to eat it are caught. A hawk 


or eagle may be used in this way as a decoy, but 
the great horned owl is by far the best. 

In using steel traps, care should be taken to wrap 
the jaws with cloth, so as to prevent injury to the 
legs of the bird captured. Vultures may be taken 
in steel traps by simply baiting them with any kind 
of flesh. Many species of birds may be success- 
fully captured by one or another of the methods 
given. In fact, we are in constant receipt of 
trapped birds during the proper seasons, and thus 
many hawks and owls which would have been 
difficult to procure are taken in numbers by our 

Bird-lime, although scarcely advisable when the 
birds are intended to be preserved, may be used 
to advantage in capturing birds for the cage. A 
small quantity of it is spread on a twig or small 
stick, one end of which is lightly stuck in a notch 
on some upright branch or stem, in such a position 
that the bird must alight on it in order to reach 
the bait. The stick should be poised so lightly 
that the slightest touch of the bird's feet will cause 
it to drop, when the bird, giving a downward 
stroke with its wings to save itself from falling, 
will strike the outer quills against the stick, and 
thus both feet and wings become fastened to it by 


the adhering lime. In case of a rare specimen, 
the lime may be removed from the plumage by the 
aid of alcohol, or the bird will remove it in time, 
if permitted to live. Good bird-lime is difficult 
to procure ; that made from linseed-oil and tar, 
boiled down, is the best ; but this process must 
be carried on in the open air, as the mixture is 
exceedingly inflammable. The sticky mass thus 
obtained must be worked with the hands under 
water, until it assumes the proper consistency. In 
spreading lime on the sticks, the fingers should be 
wet to prevent the lime sticking to them. Another 
way in which I have taken such unsuspicious birds 
as pine grosbeaks, crossbills and red-polls, is by 
placing a noose of fine wire on the end of a pole, 
and by approaching a tree cautiously, in which the 
birds were feeding, have managed to slip it over 
their heads, when they are drawn fluttering down- 
ward, and the noose removed, before any per- 
manent injury is done. I have even taken pine 
grosbeaks in an open field in this manner, and have 
ascended a tree and captured them with only the 
noose attached to a stout piece of wire, in my hand. 
Section II. : Shooting. — Although, as shown, 
many valuable species may be secured by trap- 
ping, snaring, etc., yet the collector relies mainly 


on his gun. This much being decided, it at once 
occurs to the beginner, What kind of a weapon 
shall I get ? Of course, muzzle-loaders are now 
out of the question ; and among the multitudes of 
breech-loaders in the market, one has only to 
consult his taste or the length of his purse. 
Therefore it is simply useless for me to recom- 
mend any particular make of gun. Good single- 
barrel breech-loaders can be bought for from nine 
dollars to twenty dollars, while double-barrels cost 
from fifteen dollars upward. For ordinary collect- 
ing, a twelve-gauge is perhaps better than any 
other, as such birds as ducks, hawks and crows 
can be readily killed with it. For warblers, 
wrens, and other small birds, however, a much 
smaller gauge gun is almost indispensable, as a 
large gun sends the shot with such force that it 
not only penetrates the body of the bird, but also 
goes out on the opposite side ; thus each shot 
makes two holes, when one is all that is neces- 
sary to kill. This fact should then always be 
kept in mind, and as a rule load lightly, with just 
enough powder to cause the shot to penetrate well 
into the bird without going through it. In a 
twelve-gauge gun, two drachms of powder behind 
an ounce of shot is sufficient to kill a bird like a 


jay or golden-winged woodpecker, at a distance 
of thirty or forty yards ; then if more penetration 
is necessary, more powder may be used with the 
same quantity of shot, but this will cause the shot 
to scatter more. A good collecting gun, one 
which will kill small birds with a very small 
amount of ammunition and little noise, has long 
been a desideratum. I have tried many kinds, 
but nothing has proved so satisfactory as a small 
repeating gun of my own invention, and which is 
manufactured by us. This gun consists of two 
brass tubes, a smaller one within a larger, with an 
air space between, thus greatly deadening the 
sound ; and both are securely fastened to a finely 
nickel-plated five-shot revolver. We make two 
sizes, a twenty-two gauge, the report of which is 
very slight, and a thirty-two gauge, which makes a 
little louder noise. The former will kill warblers 
at fifteen yards, and the latter at twenty yards, 
while birds like jays, thrushes, and robins, may be 
brought down with the thirty-two gauge at a 
distance of ten yards. This gun served me well 
in Florida last winter, and I killed at least two- 
thirds of the birds that I collected there with it. 
The light report of such a gun does not frighten 
the birds, while the fact that one nearly always 


has a second shot ready in the revolving cylinder, 
is a great help, in case of a wounded bird, or in 
the sudden appearance of a second specimen, as 
so often happens, after the first has fallen. The 
price of this gun varies from four dollars and fifty 
cents to five dollars and seventy-five cents, accord- 
ing to quality and size. Blow-guns, air-guns, 
catapults, etc., are useful only in cases when a 
shot-gun cannot be used, as they cannot be de- 
pended upon. A collector, in order to procure 
birds with a certainty, requires a good shot-gun. 
The ammunition used in the small collecting gun 
is copper shells, primed, of three lengths for each 
size. For shot, I use dust numbers ten and eight, 
but for a larger gun, coarser shot is sometimes 
necessary; collectors, however, — especially begin- 
ners, — are apt to use too large shot. On the con- 
trary, I do not like to shoot too fine shot at large 
birds ; thus a hawk killed with a heavy charge of 
dust-shot at twenty yards would have the feathers 
cut up very badly, whereas a warbler shot at the 
same distance would be likely to make a good 
specimen, as it would only receive a few pellets of 
shot, whereas a large number would strike the 
hawk. As a rule, then, use dust-shot for birds up 
to the size of a cedar-bird, then number ten to the 


size of a jay, after which number eight will kill 
better and cleaner, and I should use this size as 
long as it will bring down the birds ; and it is sur- 
prising to see how large species may be killed with 
it. I have taken brown pelicans, wild geese, and 
large hawks with number eight, and I once secured 
a frigate-bird with it, all at good distances. For 
very large birds like cranes, white pelicans, or 
eagles I have used a rifle very successfully. A 
thirty-two gauge Allen is my favorite gun, and I 
have killed birds at all distances from twenty to 
three hundred and twenty-five yards with it. Of 
course, nearly all successful rifle shots must be 
made at sitting birds, as I have met with but few 
who could bring them down when flying. Another 
good method of securing large shy birds which go 
in flocks, is to load with buckshot, putting a stiff 
charge of powder, say three to five drachms, behind 
it, then fire into the flock from a distance, elevating 
the gun at an angle of some forty-five degrees 
above the birds. I have killed both species of pel- 
icans at two hundred yards distant in this way. 

Section III.: Procuring Birds. — Birds are 
to be found nearly everywhere, in fact, there is 
scarcely a square acre of land on the face of the 
earth which is not inhabited, at one season or 


another, by some species, and many are found on 
the beaches, and on the ocean itself. Following 
are some of the localities in which our American 
species are to be found ; and, presumably, foreign 
birds of the same families will occur in similar 

TurdidjE : Thrushes. — Of these, the robin is 
the most common and is found everywhere. Next 
among the true thrushes are the olive-backed, 
hermit, and allied species. These occur usually 
in woodlands, and are rather shy, keeping at a dis- 
tance. The wood thrush inhabits deeply-wooded 
glens. The mocking thrushes prefer thickets in 
the neighborhood of dwellings, — for example, the 
cat-bird. The brown thrush also inhabits thick- 
ets, but are not, as a rule, fond of the society of 
man, while the smaller thrushes, of which the 
golden-crowned is an example, prefer the wood- 
lands ; and the two water thrushes are found in 
swampy localities. 

Saxicolidje : Stone-chats. — The blue-birds 
are often sociable, building in orchards and farm- 
yards, while the western species appear to prefer 
mountain cliffs as breeding-places. The rare stone- 
chat is, I think, found in open sections where it 
occurs at all. 


Cinclid,e : Ouzel. — The solitary species of 
ouzel found with us inhabits the mountain streams 
of the far west. 

Sylvid^e : True Warblers. — Are pre-emi- 
nently birds of the woodlands, but occasionally the 
kinglets, notably the golden-crowned, will wander 
into orchards during mild days in winter. 

Chamjeibm : Wrentits. — The only species 
found in the United States inhabits the sage- 
brush in the far southwest. 

Parid^e : Titmice. — Are also found in the 
woods or thickets, but some species wander into 
the orchards during winter. 

Sittid,e : Nuthatches. — Are birds of the 
woodlands as a rule, but the white and red-bellied 
nuthatches wander considerably in autumn, while 
the brown-headed seldom if ever leave the piny 
woods of the south. 

Troglodytid^e : Wrens. — The creeper-wrens 
are found among the cacti of the far southwest, 
while the rock-wrens occur among thickets in a 
similar region. The true wrens are found in 
thickets, often in the neighborhood of dwellings, 
in which they frequently build, while the two 
marsh wrens occur on both salt and fresh water 
marshes throughout the country. 


Alaudid.e: True Larks. — These birds occur 
on the far prairies, on the coast of Labrador, and 
in winter along the barren seashores of the north- 
ern and middle section. 

MotacilidjE : Wagtails. — Are also birds of 
the open country, and the titlark is found in 
fields during the migrations, especially along the 
coast from Maine to Florida. 

SylvicolidjE : American Warblers. — These 
gems of the woodland and of wayside thickets 
abound throughout the length and breadth of our 
country. During the migrations they are gener- 
ally distributed, it not being uncommon, then, to 
find even the Blackburnian warbler, which, during 
the nesting season, is pre-eminently a bird of the 
deep woods, feeding in the open fields, while I 
have taken the Cape May warbler, which occurs 
in summer in the thick evergreens of the north, 
feeding among the oranges and bananas in the 
gardens of Key West. Warblers then should be 
looked after nearly everywhere, among willows 
by the brookside, on the barren hill-tops which 
scarcely support a scant growth of pine or cedars, 
and on the blooming trees of orchards. Some 
species are exceedingly shy, so as to require a 
heavy charge of dust-shot to reach them, while 


others are so tame as to peer inquisitively into 
the very face of a collector as he makes his way 
through their chosen retreats. 

Tanagrid^e : Tanagers. — These strikingly col- 
ored birds are usually found in the woods, occa- 
sionally however visiting the open sections. They 
are rather shy and retiring in habits, and their 
presence must be-usually detected by their song. 

Hirundinid^e : Swallows. — Are birds of the 
open country, and are more common in the vicin- 
ity of settlements than elsewhere. The violet- 
green swallow, however, occurs among the cliffs 
of the Rocky Mountains. 

Ampelidte : Waxwings. — Are, as a rule, found 
in the open country in the vicinity of settlements ; 
and even the Bohemian waxwings occur abun- 
dantly in some of the cities of Utah in winter, 
feeding upon the fruit of the ornamental trees. 

Vireonid,e : Vireos. — These widely-distributed 
birds are usually fond of the woodlands, but the 
white-eye prefers thickets in swampy places, while 
the warbling is seldom found far from settlements ; 
indeed, more often inhabits trees which grow in 
the streets of villages than other sections. 

Laniid^e: Shrikes. — Are found in open sec- 
tions, often in fields, and on the uninhabited Indian 


hunting-grounds of Florida. I found the logger- 
heads along the borders of the open prairies. 

Fringillid.e : Finches, Sparrows, and Gros- 
beaks. — These are, as a rule, found mainly in 
the more open country. The cross-bills, how- 
ever,' enter thick woods, especially evergreens. 
The grosbeaks, notably the rose-breast, prefer the 
woodlands. The blue sparrows, like the indigo 
bird, are found in open fields grown up to bushes. 
The snow-buntings occur in open fields and along 
barren sections of seaboard, while the sharp-tailed 
and seaside finches inhabit the marshes. The 
grass sparrows, notably the yellow-winged, Hens- 
low's, and Leconte's, prefer grassy plains. Last 
winter I procured all three species of this genus 
(Cotiirnicidus) on a plantation in Western Florida, 
securing them all in three successive shots, a feat 
which has, I am certain, never before been accom- 
plished. Many of these grass-haunting birds have 
to be shot as they rise from the herbage to fly 
away, but I found, by persistingly following a 
specimen from point to point, that after a time 
it would settle in a bush, when I could secure it 
with my repeating collecting gun. 

Icterid.e : Orioles, Blackbirds, etc. — Orioles 
prefer, as a rule, orchards and ornamental trees 


about dwellings, but they sometimes occur in the 
more open woodlands. The marsh blackbirds, like 
the red-wings and yellow-headed, prefer wet mead- 
ows. The rusty and brewer's are found in swamps. 
The crow blackbirds and boat-tailed occur in fields 
and along the borders of streams. 

Corvid^e : Crows, Jays, etc. — These usually 
occur in the woodlands or thickets. Crows fre- 
quent the seashore in numbers in winter, and 
may be secured by exposing meat which is poi- 
soned by strychnine, as they will frequently eat it 
during the inclement season. Canada and blue 
jays occur in woods, while the Florida and Cali- 
fornia jays inhabit thickets. 

TYRANNiDiE : Flycatchers. — Are widely dis- 
tributed species. The king-birds are found in the 
more open sections, and the same is true of the 
crested flycatchers. The bridge pewee inhabits 
the vicinity of dwellings, while the wood pewee 
occurs in the woods. The least flycatcher pre- 
fers orchards, but the greater portions of the 
genus Enipidonax are found in woodlands or 

Caprimulgid^e : Goatsuckers. — The whip- 
poor-wills and chuck-wills-widow occur in the thick 
wood, emerging occasionally at night, but seldom 


straying from their retreats. A good way to 
secure these birds is to note as accurately as pos- 
sible the point where one begins to sing ; then, on 
the following evening, conceal yourself near the 
spot, when the bird will be seen to emerge from 
its retreat and alight on some particular rock, post, 
or branch, on which it invariably perches, and utters 
its song. Then if the bird be too far away to 
secure at the time, it may readily be taken another 
evening by the collector posting himself nearer. 
These birds may also be started from their con- 
cealment during daylight, and thus be shot. The 
night-hawks inhabit the more open sections, but 
perch on trees during the day. They may readily 
be secured while flying over the fields. 

Cypselid^e : Swifts. — The white-throated swift 
occurs among the clefts of the Rocky Mountains, 
and is exceedingly difficult to procure. The well- 
known chimney swift inhabits chimneys almost 
everywhere, but, as it never alights outside of these 
retreats, must be shot on the wing. 

TrochilidjE : Hummingbirds. — Inhabit as a 
rule the open country. I have secured numbers of 
our ruby-throats on cherry-trees when they were 
in blossom, and later, on beds of flowers ; and I 
presume the western species may be found in sim- 


ilar situations. I shoot them with light charges 
of dust-shot, fired from my collecting gun. 

Alcidinid^e : Kingfishers. — These noisy birds 
are found plentifully in the vicinity of streams. 
They are shy and require a heavy charge of number 
eight to bring them down. 

CucuLiDiE : Cuckoos. — The roadrunner of Cali- 
fornia, Texas, and intermediate locality, occurs in 
the sage bush, but our species of cuckoos, even 
the mangrove, inhabit thickets from which they 
occasionally emerge. They are usually betrayed 
by their notes. They are easily killed, their skin 
being very thin and tender. 

Picid.e: Woodpeckers. — Occur, as a rule, in 
the woodlands, but the smaller species and the 
golden-winged inhabit orchards. They are all 
tough birds to kill. They are a generally dis- 
tributed family, but some species are confined to 
certain localities, for example, the great ivory- 
billed is not found outside of Florida, and even 
there, is confined to a limited area, and very rare. 
Strickland's woodpecker has as yet only been found 
in the United States in a single range of moun- 
tains in Arizona. 

Psittacid,e : Parrots. — Our Carolina paroquet 
is now exceedingly rare out of Florida, and then 


occurs in the neighborhood of cypress swamps, 
but occasionally visits the plantations. 

Strigid^e : Owls. — The burrowing owl occurs 
in the western plains and in a limited area of 
Florida. The snowy owl inhabits sand-hills of the 
coast in winter, and the short-eared occurs in the 
marshes, but all other species are birds of the deep 
woods, occasionally emerging, however, especially 
at night. The great horned and barred may be 
decoyed within shooting distance in the spring by 
imitating their cries, and the latter-named species 
will also eagerly fly toward the collector when he 
produces a squeaking sound similar to that made 
by a mouse. The small owls may be often found 
in holes of trees. 

Falconid^e : Hawks, Eagles, etc. — Marsh 
hawks occur in fields, meadows, and marshes. 
Everglade kites are found on the widespread 
savannahs of Florida, while the swallow-tailed 
Mississippi and white-shouldered are found on the 
prairies of the south and west. The buzzard 
hawks usually occur in the woods, but during the 
migrations pass over the fields, flying high. The 
fish-hawk is abundant on the seacoast, but also 
visits the ponds and lakes of the interior. The 
duck-hawk is fond of clefts, and migrates along the 


seacoast. The sharp-shinned sparrow and pigeon 
are often found in solitary trees in fields, where 
they hunt for mice, but they also occur in open 
woods. The bald eagle occurs on the seashore 
or on large bodies of water, but the golden eagle 
prefers the mountainous regions. 

Cathartid^e : Vultures. — Occur everywhere 
throughout the south. The great California vul- 
ture is now very rare. 

Columbid^e : Pigeons. — Are usually found in 
fields, but the wild pigeon is often taken in the 
woods. The ground doves are found in fields 
which are bordered with thickets, to which they 
retreat when alarmed. Two or three species are 
found on the Florida Keys, and about as many 
more in Texas. 

Meleagrid^e ; Turkeys. — Wild turkeys occur 
in the wilderness of the south and west. They 
inhabit open woods as a rule, often roosting at 
night in swamps. 

Tetraonhxe: Grouse, Quail, etc — The Can- 
ada, ruffled, and allied species of grouse occur in 
the woodlands. The prairie sharp-tail and sage- 
hen are found on the plains of the west, while the 
ptarmigans inhabit the bleak regions of the north. 
The common quail is widely distributed through- 


out the more open country, from Massachusetts to 
Texas, and the plumed California and allied species 
occur in the southwest, frequenting the thickets of 
the prairies, or along the mountain-sides. 

Charadriidje: Plovers. — These are, as a rule, 
maritime birds, especially during the southward 
migrations, but many of the species breed in the 
interior, and the kildeer and mountain plovers are 
always more common on bodies of fresh water. 
None of the species are, however, found far from 
water, but they all alight in dry fields in search 
of food. 

H.ematopodid/E : Ovster-catcheRs and Turn- 
stones. — All these birds inhabit the seacoast. 
They occur in oyster-beds or among rocks. 

Recurvirostrid^e : Avocets and Stilts. — 
Both these species are birds of the interior, being 
found in the south and west in the vicinity of 

Phaleropodid.e : Phaleropes. — These singu- 
lar birds are found off the coast, often far out at 
sea during winter, but, oddly enough, breed in the 
interior, nesting throughout the northwest and 
north. They are, however, occasionally found on 
the coast during the northward migration, especially 
during storms. 

collecting. 23 

Scolopacid^e : Snipes, Woodcock, etc. — 
Woodcock and snipes are usually found in fresh- 
water swamps, especially in spring. The true 
sandpipers, like peep, grass-birds, etc., haunt the 
pools in marshes or accompany the sanderlings 
on the beaches. The godwits are found on the 
marshes, as are also red-breasted snipe, but the 
curlews inhabit hill-tops, especially during the 
autumnal migration. I have, however, found the 
long-billed curlew on the beaches of Florida. 
Willets and yellow-legs occur on the marshes or 
on the borders of streams. 

Tantalid^e : Ibises and Spoonbills. — Occur 
along the borders of streams and other bodies of 
fresh water, or on mud-flats in the far south. 

Ardeid^e : Herons. — These are widely dis- 
tributed birds. The true herons occur along the 
margins of bodies of water, both on the coast and 
in the interior, while the bitterns generally haunt 
only the fresh water. 

Gruid^e : Cranes. — Are found on the prairies 
of the west and south, frequenting the vicinity of 

Aramid,e : Courlan. — The well-known crying- 
bird is found only in Florida, inhabiting swamps 
along the rivers and lakes of the interior. 

24 manual of taxidermy. 

Rallid^e : Rails, Gallinules, and Coots. — 

The true rails inhabit very wet marshes, both salt 
and fresh, concealing themselves in the grass. 
Gallinules and coots are found on the borders of 
fresh water. 

Phcenicopteridje : Flamingoes. — The flamingo 
occurs only with us, on the extensive mud-flats in 
extreme Southern Florida, where they are exceed- 
ingly difficult to procure, being very shy. 

Anatid^e : Geese, Ducks, etc — These are 
all inhabitants of the water, being seldom found 
far from it. Some species, like the teal, prefer 
secluded pools in the interior, while the wood-duck 
and others frequent woodland streams ; and the 
eiders and marine ducks are abundant in the 
waters of the ocean. 

Sulhxe : Gannets. — Excepting while breed- 
ing, these birds keep well out to sea, and are thus 
quite difficult to procure. All of the marine spe- 
cies are liable to be driven inland during severe 
storms, and the collector should not fail to take 
advantage of such circumstances. 

Pelicanid.e : Pelicans. — The brown pelican is 
a resident of the extreme southern coast, and may 
be found on sand-bars or perched on trees in the 
immediate vicinity of water. The white pelican is 


found in similar localities in winter, but migrates 
northward during the summer, breeding in the 
interior, from Utah to the Arctic regions. 

Graculid^e : Cormorants. — Occur on sand- 
bars in the south, or on rocky cliffs in the north, 
and on the Pacific coast. During migrations they 
keep well out to sea. They have the habit, in 
common with the gannets and pelicans, of alight- 
ing on barren sand-spits which rise out of the 

Plotid^e : Darters. — The snake-bird of the 
south occurs on bodies of fresh water, and may be 
seen perched on trees or flying high in air. They 
are exceedingly difficult to kill, being, as a rule, 
shy, and very tenacious of life. 

Tachypetid^e : Frigate Birds. — The frigate 
bird is found with us only on the Gulf of Mexico 
and among the Florida Keys. They are usually 
seen upon wing, but I have observed thousands 
perched on the mangroves on the Keys. They 
roost on the trees on lonely islets at night, at 
which time they appear so stupid that they may 
be approached quite readily. 

Piletontid^e : Tropic Birds. — These fine 
birds occur only in tropical waters unless they 
are accidentally blown out of their latitude by 


storms. They breed on the rocky cliffs of the 
Bahamas and Bermudas. 

Larid.e : Gulls, Terns, etc. — The Skua gulls 
keep well out to sea, as a rule, but occasionally 
enter harbors and bays in pursuit of gulls and 
terns, which they rob of their prey. Gulls and 
terns of the various species rest on sand-bars or 
fly along the shore. 

Procellarid^e : Petrels. — Excepting while 
breeding, these birds keep well out to sea and are 
thus quite difficult to procure. They haunt the 
waters which are frequented by fishermen, how- 
ever, and may be procured by visiting these local- 
ities on some fishing-smack. 

Colymbid^e : Loons. — Are found in both fresh 
and salt waters, but are somewhat difficult to pro- 
cure on account of their habit of diving. 

Podicipid^e : Grebes. — These birds have sim- 
ilar habits to those of the loons, but are found in 
smaller bodies of water, notably the Pied-billed, 
one or more specimens of which occur in almost 
every little pool throughout the country, especially 
during the southward migration. 

Alcid^e : Auks, Puffins, etc — These birds 
are found off the coast during migration, but breed 
on the rocky shores of both coasts. 


Although the foregoing list gives the locality in 
which a given species may be found, as a rule, it 
is always well to bear in mind that birds have 
wings, and by the use of them may stray into 
unaccustomed localities far distant from their 
usual habitance. For example, a burrowing owl 
was shot on the marshes of Newburyport, and a 
petrel, which has hitherto been known to science 
through a single specimen which was taken many 
years ago in the southern hemisphere, was picked 
up, in an exhausted condition, in a ploughed field 
of the interior of New York. The young collector 
then should ever be on the alert, keeping well in 
mind the fact that the art which he is pursuing 
is not lightly learned. I have frequently heard 
the inexperienced remark that he could easily kill 
a hundred birds in a day ; and although this might 
be true on certain occasions, — for I have seen over 
this number killed by one person in two dis- 
charges of a gun, — yet, as a rule, a good collector 
will seldom bring in over fifty birds during his 
best days. A man must not only be experienced, 
but will be obliged to work hard in order to 
average twenty-five birds in a day. Although 
there are some " born " collectors who will 
procure birds, even if they be provided with no 


more formidable weapon than a boy's catapult, 
yet the peculiar attributes which make up a good 
collector are mainly to be acquired. A quick 
eye to detect a flutter of a wing or the flit of a 
tail among waving foliage ; an ear ready to catch 
the slighest chirp heard amid the rustling leaves, 
and so skilled as to intrepret the simple grada- 
tions of sound which distinguish the different 
species ; a constant wide-awake alertness, so that 
nothing escapes the observation, and which gives 
such nice control over the muscles that the gun 
comes to the shoulder with a promptitude that 
combines thought with action ; and an unwearying 
patience and pluck which totally disregard minor 
obstacles, are some of the characteristics which 
must be possessed by the individual who wishes 
to bring together a good collection of birds by 
his own exertions. If one does not possess these 
traits, why, then study to acquire them; for 
securing birds is as fine an art as is preserving 
them after they are obtained. 

Section IV. : Care of Specimens. — Just as 
soon as a bird is shot, examine it carefully by blow- 
ing aside the feathers in order to find the shot- 
holes ; if they bleed, remove the clotted blood with 
a small stick, or, better, the point of a penknife, 


then with a pointed stick, or the knife, plug the 
hole with a little cotton, and sprinkle plaster, or 
better, some of my preservative, on the spot. 
Next plug the mouth with cotton, taking care to 
push the wad down far enough to allow the bill to 
close, for if the mandibles are left open the skin of 
the chin and upper throat will dry, causing the 
feathers to stand upright. Smooth the specimen 
lightly and place it, head down, in a paper cone, 
which should be long enough to allow folding the 
top without bending the tail feathers. Then the 
bird may be placed in a fish basket, which is the 
best receptacle for carrying birds, as it is not only 
light to carry, but also admits the air. Never 
shut a bird up in a close box in warm weather, as 
it will spoil very quickly. Care of a bird in the 
field will save much labor, and your cabinet speci- 
mens will look enough better to warrant it. 
Blood left under the plumage gradually soaks 
through the feathers, thus causing them to 
become matted, when they are exceedingly diffi- 
cult to clean. Some specimens however, will 
bleed, and if they are to be preserved this blood 
must be removed. I have always found it best 
to wash the blood off in the first water I could 
find, and then let the bird dry, either by carrying 


in my hand, or, by suspending it to a limb of 
a tree, where I could return for it afterwards. 
Care should be taken in such cases, however, to 
wash all the blood off, and then plug the wound 
with cotton, as if any flows out when the plumage 
is wet it will spread on the - feathers" and stain 
them. In picking up birds that are only wounded 
never take them by the tail, wing, or any part of 
the plumage, but grasp them firmly in the hand 
in such a way as to imprison both wings, then 
kill them by a firm pressure of the thumb and 
forefinger, applied to the sides just back of the 
wings. This compresses the lungs, and the birds 
die of suffocation almost instantly. Never strike 
a bird, no matter how large, with a stick, but in 
case of hawks, eagles, etc, the talons of which are 
dangerous, seize them first by the tip of one 
wing, then by the other, work the hands down- 
ward until the back is grasped, then apply the 
pressure to the lungs. There is no danger from 
the beak of even the most formidable species 
after the pressure is put upon the lungs, for I 
never knew a specimen to bite while being killed 
in this way ; the only thing necessary is to 
keep out of the way of their talons. I have fre- 
quently been obliged to remove eagles from a box 


and kill them, and have done it with my hands 

Wounded doves and pigeons should be grasped 
very firmly, and not allowed to struggle in the 
least, as their feathers fall out very easily ; and 
the same is true, though to a less extent, with 
cuckoos ; in fact, it is always best to brush the 
plumage as little as possible, handling the speci- 
men when dead by the feet or bill. In picking up 
white herons or other birds which have fallen in 
mud or other dirty water, take them up by the bill 
and shake them gently to remove the ooze. The 
feathers of all birds, especially aquatic species, 
are covered with a delicate oil, and all extraneous 
matter glides off the plumage if they are not 
soaked in water. In catching wounded herons, 
take them by the beak to avoid the danger of 
losing an eye from a lunge of the sharp point. 
When a bird is to be placed in a basket or on a 
bench, do not throw it down, but lay it gently on 
its back, always bearing in mind that the smoother 
a bird is kept before it is skinned the better it will 
look when preserved. I have even noticed that 
the true ornithological enthusiast always keeps 
his birds in good condition, while others who 
merely shoot birds for the momentary pleasure of 


the thing, or for gain, are very apt to handle them 
roughly. In other words, the student of nature 
possesses an innate love of his pursuits, which 
causes him to respect even a dead bird. 



Section I. : Ordinary Method. — The only 
instruments that I use in removing the skin of 
birds ordinarily is a simple knife of a peculiar form 
(see Fig. 3) ; but I like to have a pair of dissecting 
scissors by me to be used in cases given further 

Fig. 3. 

on. I also have plenty of cotton, and either 
Indian meal or dermal preservative at hand to 
absorb blood and other juices. 
m To remove the skin from the bird, first see that 
the mouth is plugged with cotton, and if it is, 
note if this be dry, if not remove it and substitute 
fresh. It is also well to note if the bird be flex- 
ible, for if rigid it is extremely difficult to skin, 
and it is always best to wait until this peculiar 
rigidity of the muscles, which follows death in 
all vertebrate animals, shall have passed. This 
occurs in warm weather in much less time than in 



cold, often in one or two hours, but in moderate 
temperature a bird had better lie for at least six 
hours after it has been killed. Take then a speci- 
men in the proper condition, lay it on its back 
on a bench, on which clean paper has been spread, 
with its head from you, but slightly inclined to the 
left. Now part the feathers of the abdomen with 
the left hand, and, excepting in ducks and a few 
other species, a space, either naked or covered 
with down, will be seen extending from the lower 
or costal extremity of the sternum to the vent. 
Insert the point of the knife, which is held in the 
left hand, with the back downward, under the 
skin near the sternum, and, by sliding it down- 
ward, make an incision quite to the vent, taking 
care not to cut through the walls of the abdomen. 
This can readily be avoided in fresh birds, but not 
in specimens that have been softened by lying too 
long. The fingers of the right hand should be em- 
ployed during this operation in holding apart the 
feathers. Now sprinkle meal or preservative in 
the incision, especially if blood or juices flow out, 
in order to absorb them and prevent them soiling 
the feathers. Next, with the thumb and finger of 
the right hand, peel down the skin on the left side 
of the orifice, at the same time pressing the tibia 


on that side upward. This will disclose the 
second joint of the leg, or knee proper. Pass the 
knife under this joint, and, by cutting against the 
thumb, cut it completely off, a matter easily ac- 
complished in small birds ; rub a little absorbent 
on either side of the severed joint ; then grasping 
the end of the tibia firmly between the thumb and 
forefinger of the right hand, draw it outward. At 
the same time, the skin of the leg should be 
pressed downward by the fingers of the right hand 
to prevent tearing. The leg is thus easily exposed, 
and should be, as a rule, skinned to the tarsal 
joint. With the thumb-nail, nip off the extreme 
tip of the tibial bone, and strip the flesh off the 
remainder of the bone by a downward pull ; then 
give the whole a twist, and cut all the tendrils at 
once. Of course the flesh may be removed from 
the bone by scraping, etc., but the above is the 
best method, and in case of large birds, break the 
end of the tibia with pliers. Turn the bird end for 
end, and proceed the same with the other leg, but 
during both operations the bird should not be 
raised from the bench. Now peel away the skin 
about the tail, place the forefinger under its base, 
and cut downward through the caudal vertebra 
and muscles of the back quite to the skin, the 


finger being a guide to prevent going through 
this. Rub absorbent on the severed portion. 
Grasp the end of the vertebra protruding from 
the body, thus raising the bird from the bench; 
peel down front and back by pushing downward 
with the hand, rather coaxing the skin off than 
forcing or pulling it. Soon the wings will appear; 
sever these where the humerus joins the cora- 
coid, cutting through the muscles from above 
downward in large specimens, thus more readily 
finding the joints. Rub on absorbent, and it may 
be well to remark that this must be done when- 
ever a fresh cut is made. Then the body is laid 
on the bench, and the skin is held in one hand, or, 
in large specimens,, allowed to rest on the lap or 
on the bench, but never to dangle. Keep on 
peeling over the neck by using the tips of as many 
ringers as can be brought into service and soon, 
the skull will appear. The next obstruction will 
be the ears ; these should be pulled or, better, 
pinched out with the thumb and forefinger nails. 
Do not tear the ears, and special care should 
be exercised in this respect in owls. When 
the eyes are exposed, pass the knife between 
the lids and orbit, close to the former, taking 
care that the nyctatating membrane be removed 



from the skin, or it will be in the way when 
the eyelids are arranged in making the skin. 
Peel well down to the base of the bill, so that 
every portion of the skin may be covered with 
preservative. Push the point of the knife under 
the eyes, and remove them by a single motion, 

Fig. 5. 

without breaking them. Cut off the back of the 
skull at the point shown in the line A, Fig. 4 ; 
Turn the head over and make two cuts outward as 
seen at A. A., Fig. 5. thus removing a triangular 
portion of the skull B, Fig. 4, to which the brain 
will usually adhere, but when it does not, remove 
it with the point of the knife. This leaves the 
eye-cavities open from beneath. Draw out the 


wings by grasping the end of the humerus in 
the left hand, and press the skin back with the 
right, to the forearm ; then with the thumb-nail, 
or back of the knife, separate the secondary quills 
which adhere to the larger bone from it, thus 
turning out the wing to the last joint or phalanges. 
Cover the skin well with preservative, especially 
the skull, wings, and base of tail ; roll up balls 
of cotton of about the size of the entire eye 
removed, and place in the cavities in such a condi- 
tion that the smooth side of the ball may come 
outward so that the eyelids may be arranged 
neatly over them. Nothing now remains but to 
turn the skin back to its former position. Turn 
the wings by gently pulling the primaries and the 
head, by forcing the skull upward until the bill 
can be grasped ; then by pulling forward on this, 
and working the skin backward with one hand, 
the matter will be accomplished, when the feathers 
may be lightly smoothed and arranged. It must 
be borne in mind that the quicker and more 
lightly a skin is removed the better the specimen 
will look. By lightly, I mean that the skin should 
not be tightly grasped nor stretched by pulling. 
Some workmen will remove a skin from a bird 
which is nearly spoiled without starting a feather, 


while others may skin a specimen as quickly, but 
the plumage will be crushed and broken through 
rough usage. The time for removing the skin 
from a small bird should not exceed six minutes, 
and I have seen it taken off in half this time. Of 
course the beginner will be longer than this ; and 
then the skin should be occasionally moistened, 
by using a damp sponge. 

Section II. : Exceptions to the Usual 
Method of Skinning. — In case of birds which 
are very soft on account of having been dead a 
long time, it may be advisable to open either be- 
neath the wing, making a short incision along the 
side or above the wing, cutting along the feather 
tracks just above the scapularies ; and some skin 
ducks through a hole in the back just above the 
rump. I do not, however, advise such practice, as 
a rule, as the skins are more difficult to make up, 
and the bird cannot be mounted quite as readily. 

Woodpeckers with large heads and small necks, 
like the pileated and ivory-billed, and ducks having 
similar characteristics, as the wood, pintail, and a 
few other species ; also flamingoes, sand-hill, and 
whooping cranes, cannot be skinned over the head 
in the usual manner, but the neck should be cut 
off after the skin has been removed as far as pos- 


sible, and then a slit should be cut in the back of 
the head, and the head be skinned through this 
orifice, but an abundance of absorbent should be 
used to prevent the feathers from becoming soiled. 

Care should be exercised in skinning cuckoos, 
doves, thrushes, and some species of sparrows, as 
the skin is not only thin, but the feathers start in 
the rump and back very readily. Peel the skin off 
gently, and do not fold it abruptly backward in 
working on these parts, but hold it as nearly as 
possible in its original position. The skin of the 
wood duck, and sometimes that of the hooded 
merganser, adheres to the flesh of the breast^ but 
it may be separated by working carefully with the 
back of the knife. In removing the skins of young 
birds in the down, like ducks and gallinaceous birds, 
do not attempt to skin the wings. 

If a specimen is to be mounted with the wings 
spread, the secondaries should not be detached, 
but the knife should be forced down back of the 
primaries in order to break up the muscles ; then 
as much of the flesh as possible should be removed, 
and a quantity of preservative pushed in beneath 
the skin. In larger birds a slit should be made 
on the under side of the wing, and the muscles 
removed from the outside without detaching the 


secondaries ; and also when a specimen is to be 
mounted, the eye cavities should be filled with clay 
well kneaded to the consistency of putty. 

Section III. : Ascertaining the Sex of Birds. 
— Although the sex of many birds can be ascer- 
tained with tolerable certainty by the plumage, 
yet this is never an infallible guide, and to make 
perfectly sure of every case the interrfal organs 
should be examined. I always advise dissecting 
such plainly-marked birds as scarlet tanagers or 
red-winged blackbirds, and by practising this habit 
I was once fortunate enough to discover a female 
painted bunting in full male livery. The sex of 
birds can be readily ascertained in the following 
manner : Lay the bird's body on its left side, with 
the head from you ; then with a knife or scissors, 
cut through the ribs and abdominal walls on the 
right side ; then raise the intestines, and the organs 
will appear. 

In males, two bodies, the testicles, more or less 
spherical, will be seen lying just below the lungs on 
the upper portion of the kidneys (Fig. 6, 3, 3). These 
vary not only in color from white to black, but also 
in size, depending upon the season or age of the 
the specimen. Thus, in an adult song sparrow, 
during the beginning of the breeding season, the 



testicles will be nearly or quite a half inch in dia- 
meter, whereas in autumn they will not exceed a 
number eight shot in size ; and in nestlings of the 
same species they are not larger than a small pellet 
of dust-shot. At this early age, the sex of birds 
which have become somewhat soft is quite difficult 
to determine, and the same is true at any season 

Fig. 6. 

if the specimens be badly shot up. There are 
other organs, however, in the male. For example, 
the sperm ducts are always present, appearing like 
two white lines ; and in the breeding season the 
plexus of nerves and arteries about the vent be- 
comes swollen, forming two prominent tubercles 
on either side (Fig. 6, 3, 3). 

In the female the ovaries lie on the right side 
(Fig. 7, 2) in about the same position as is occupied 



by the testicles in the male. The ovaries vary in 
size from that of half the size of an egg to minute 
points, depending, as in the male, on the season of 
the year and age of the specimen. In very young 
birds the ovaries consist of a small white body 
which under a magnifying glass appears somewhat 

Fig. 7. 

granular. In both male and female are two yellow- 
ish or whitish bodies, in the former sex lying above 
the testicles, but further forward, and consequently 
just in front of the kidneys; and in the female they 
occupy about the same position. In addition to 
the ovaries in the female, the oviduct is always 
present (Fig. 7, 3), large, swollen, and convoluted 
during the breeding season, but smaller and nearly 


straight at other times. In young specimens it 
appears as a small white line. 

The denuded breast and abdomen seen in birds 
during the breeding season, cannot always be de- 
pended upon as a mark of sex, as this occasionally 
occurs in males as well as in females. 

Section IV. : Preserving Skins. — Taxidermists 
for many years have made use of arsenic in some 
form as a preservative ; and in the first edition of my 
"Naturalists' Guide," I recommended the use of it 
dry, stating that I did not think it injurious if not 
actually eaten. I have, however, since had abun- 
dant cause to change my opinion in this respect, and 
now pronounce it a dangerous poison. Not one 
person in fifty can handle the requisite quantity of 
arsenic necessary to preserve specimens, for any 
length of time, without feeling the effects of it. 
For a long time I was poisoned by it, but attributed 
it to the noxious gases arising from birds that had 
been kept too long. It is possible that the poison 
from arsenic with which my system was filled might 
have been affected by these gases, causing it to 
develop itself, but I do not think that the gas itself 
is especially injurious, as I have never been poisoned 
since I discontinued the use of arsenic. 

When I became convinced that arsenic was 


injuring my health, and that of others, I began to 
experiment upon other substances, and after trying 
a quantity of various things, have succeeded in 
manufacturing a nearly odorless compound which 
has the following advantages over arsenic : It 
thoroughly preserves the skins of birds, mammals, 
reptiles, and fishes from decay, and also prevents 
the attacks of dermestes or anthrenus, while the 
feathers of birds and hair of mammals are not as 
liable to be attacked by moths as when the skin is 
preserved with arsenic. This preservative when 
properly applied abstracts the oil from greasy skins, 
thus preventing them from becoming decayed 
through carbonization, as nearly always occurs in 
ducks' skins after a few years. It is a deodorizer, 
all disagreeable smells leaving the skin to which it 
is applied ; and above all it is not a poison. I used 
this dermal preservative, as we have named it, as 
an absorbent while skinning birds, especially small 
ones, as then the plumage is dusted with it neces- 
sarily, which insures more or less protection to the 
feathers from the attacks of moths. 

To render my preservative, or indeed any other, 
effective, it must be thoroughly applied to the 
skin; all the portions, especially those to which 
any flesh adheres, must be well covered with it, 


and the fibre of the muscles should be broken up 
as much as possible. But a small portion, at best, 
of arsenic is soluble in either water or alochol, and 
but a little in the juices of the skin, whereas in 
my dermal preservative at least three-fourths of 
that which comes in contact with a moist skin is 
absorbed, thus thoroughly preserving the speci- 
men. In the case of a greasy skin, remove as 
much fat as possible by peeling it off or gently 
scraping until all the little cells which contain the 
oil are broken up and the skin appears ; then coat 
the skin liberally with the preservative, when it 
will be found to absorb the oil. Allow this layer 
to remain a few minutes, then scrape it all off and 
coat again with a fresh supply. Continue to do 
this until all the oil that will flow out is absorbed, 
and then dust with a final coating. 

There are two chemical processes carried on 
in preserving oily skins, one of which converts the 
oil into soap, and this is in turn absorbed and 
dried. Thus the preservative which has been 
scraped from the skin can be after a time used 
again, as it has lost but a small portion of its effi- 
ciency. It might be borne in mind, however, that 
all the fat cells possible must be broken up, as 
the skin which surrounds these is, in a measure, 


impervious to the preservative, which must, in 
order to absorb oil, come in contact with it. 

Section V. : Other Methods of Preserv- 
ing Skins — Skins may be temporarily preserved 
by simply using black pepper, but the effect is 
not lasting. The same is true of tannic acid, but 
either of these, alum, or even common salt, will do 
as a substitute for the preservative until the skins 
can be got into the hands of a taxidermist, or until 
the collector can procure the proper preservative. 
I will here mention that the dermal preservative 
costs only twenty-five cents per single pound, and 
this quantity will preserve at least three times as 
many skins as the same amount of arsenic. 

A good method by which large skins may be 
temporarily preserved is by salting them. Simply 
coat the inside of the skin with fine salt, turn it, 
smooth the feathers and fold the wings neatly, 
then pack in paper. The salt prevents the skin 
from quite drying, and thus it can be moistened 
much more readily, and made into a skin or 
mounted. The advantage of packing large birds 
in so small a capacity is obvious to any one. Two 
collectors whom we have had out the past season 
have sent in some thousand large skins in this 
condition ; and these we shall endeavor to work up 


within six months' time, as salted skins become 
quite brittle if allowed to lie too long. They 
should be kept in a dry place, as salt absorbs 
moisture, which causes the skin to decay. They 
are also liable after the first year to be attacked 
by dermestes and anthrenus. 

Birds which are in a bad condition through 
having been dead a long time may be sometimes 
skinned, in case of rare specimens, by using great 
care. Sprinkle the inside of the skin well with 
preservative, as this tends to set the feathers, 
being a stringent, keeping the skin as straight as 
possible, as folding it is liable to loosen the 
feathers. The intestines of birds may be removed 
and the cavity salted when large birds are to be 
sent from a distance. 



Section I. : Cleaning Feathers. — If a bird 
is bloody, the feathers may be washed either in 
turpentine or water. Saturate a rag or piece of 
cotton, and clean off the blood, which if dry may 
require some soaking. Try to keep the water 
from spreading as much as possible, but be sure 
that every particle of clotted blood is removed and 
the spot washed thoroughly. Then dry by cover- 
ing the spot well with either plaster or dermal pre- 
servative, the latter being preferable as it never 
bleaches the plumage. This should be worked 
well into the feathers with a soft brush, aided by 
the fingers, applying a fresh supply constantly 
until all the moisture is absorbed ; then dust with 
a soft duster. In case of grease-spots, if fresh, 
use the dermal preservative alone, but if old and 
yellow use benzine to start the grease, and then dry 
with preservative, when it will generally be found 
that all stains will be removed ; but in some cases 
two or three applications of benzine may be neces- 



sary. Small spots of dried blood may often be re- 
moved from dark feathers by simply scraping with 
the thumb-nail, aided by a moderately stiff brush, 
much after the manner in which a living bird 
removes foreign substances from its plumage. Do 
not leave clotted spots of blood in the plumage, as 
the feathers never lie well over them, and such 
places are liable to be attacked by insects, and 
even a spot of blood under the wing should, in 
my opinion, always be removed. Before any at- 

Fig. 8. 

tempt is made either to make a bird into a skin 
or mount it, it should be thoroughly cleansed. 
Stains of dirt may be removed with alcohol, which 
dries more readily than water, but it will not start 
blood as well as turpentine or water. 

Section II. : Making Skins of Small Birds. — 
The instruments for skin-making are a flat brush, 
a duster for cleansing, three or four pairs of tweez- 
ers of varying sizes (see Fig. 8), needles, curved 
or straight as preferred, silk thread for sewing, 
and soft cotton for winding, and metal forms made 
of rolled tin or zinc (Fig. 9). Lay the skin on its 


back, and push the single bones left on the fore- 
arm into the skin, then fasten them by taking a 
stitch through the skin near the base of the wing ; 
then, passing the thread around the bone, tie it 
firmly. Now with the same thread, uncut, sew the 
other bone in a similar manner, leaving the two 
connected by a piece of thread which is about as 
long as the natural width of the body of the bird, 
thus the wings are kept the same distance apart as 

Fig. 9. 

they were formerly. Now take a piece of cotton 
and form it into a rough body as near as possible 
in size to the one removed, but having a tapering 
neck of about the length of nature. Now grasp 
this firmly in the tweezers, and place it, neck fore- 
most, in the skin, taking care that the point of 
the tweezers enters the brain cavity of the skull, 
so that the cotton may fill it, and projecting down- 
ward, form the throat ; now allow the tweezers 
to open, and slip them out. Open the eyelids, 
arranging them neatly over the rounded cotton 


beneath. See that the bones of the wing lie 
along the sides, as they are liable to become 
pushed forward in putting in the cotton. This 
can be remedied by raising the cotton gently. If 
the cotton body has been placed in the proper 
position the neck will be full, but not over stuffed, 
and of just the right length to form a skin that 
has the appearance and size of a freshly-killed bird 
lying on its back with the head straight. The bill 
should be horizontal with the bench on which the 
bird lies, and from which the specimen should not 
be raised while at work on it. Now roll the skin 
over and examine the back ; see that the wing 
feathers, especially the scapularies, lie in regular 
rotation, and that they have not been pushed one 
above the other ; and the same attention should be 
given to the tail. Note if the feathers of the back 
lie neatly over the scapularies, and these in turn, 
should be over the wing-coverts ; in short, all 
should blend neatly, forming a smoothly rounded 
back. Now place the skin, back down, in the 
form, lifting, by placing the thumb and forefinger 
on either side of the shoulders, which is the 
proper way to handle a small skin, even when dry. 
In placing the skin in the form, care should be 
used that the cotton does not slip out of the skull, 


causing the head to fall down. See if the tip of 
the wings are of equal length ; if not make them so 
by drawing one wing downward, and pushing the 
other up toward the head, but do not pull them 
out of place at the shoulders. Be careful that the 
wings are placed high enough on the back. This 
is easily ascertained, if the closed tips of the 
primaries lie perfectly flat on the bottom of the 
form with their inner edges nearly downward. 
Now smooth the feathers with a pair of tweezers, 
placing the feathers of the sides that come below 
the sparrow's wing inside the wing ; above this 
they will lie outside. Always bear in mind that 
although a skin can be made perfectly smooth by 
an expert in from eight to fifteen minutes, one 
who is not accustomed to the work will be obliged 
to occupy a much longer time, as a skin cannot be 
made too smooth. Arrange all spots and lines on 
the feathers as they occur in life, especially about 
the head or on the back ; in fact, too much atten- 
tion cannot be given to these details, before and 
after a skin is placed in the form, if one wishes to 
turn out a first-class specimen. 

Now bind the skin with soft cotton thread, used 
on bobbins in the mills, beginning at the lower 
portions of the wings, and winding the thread over 



the body and under the form, so that the threads 
lie about a quarter of an inch apart, ending with 
the throat. Now arrange all the feathers which 
may have become disarranged under the threads, ( 
and place the skin away to dry where there is no 
draft, for a slight breeze will be sure to blow some 
of the feathers out of place. (For the form of a 
skin, see Fig. 10.) 

Fig. io. 

Another method of making skins which may be 
practised to advantage is as follows : After the 
skin is ready to place in the form, wrap it closely 
in a very thin layer of nice cotton batting, taking 
care that the feathers lie perfectly smooth, although 
these may be partially arranged through the cot- 
ton, which must be thin enough for the feathers 
to be seen through it. The skin is then laid aside 
to dry without placing in the form. 

Skins should not be exposed to too great artificial 
heat, neither should they be left to dry during 


damp weather in a room without a fire. Small 
birds, like warblers, will set perfectly hard in forty- 
eight hours in a moderate temperature with dry 
air. Never allow a skin to freeze. 

Section III. : Making Skins of Long-necked 
Birds. — Sandpipers, thin-necked woodpeckers, or 
any birds, the necks of which are liable to become 
broken, should have a wire placed in the neck to 
support and strengthen it. Proceed in sewing the 
wing-bones as directed in small skins ; then make 
a body of cotton around the end of a wire that has 
about an inch of the end bent into the form of a 
hook, and then the body may be wrapped about the 
wire with some of the winding cotton. The neck- 
wire should project from the body for about the 
same length as the natural neck, or a little more. 
This neck-wire should also be wrapped with cotton 
to the size of the natural neck, but rather thicker 
where it joins the body. A small portion of this 
wire which has been sharpened, as hereafter to be 
directed, should project beyond the body. Now 
place the body in position inside of the skin, forcing 
the point of the wire into the skull, up into the 
base of the upper mandible as far as it will go. 
The heads of long-billed birds may be turned on 
one side, but in this case the bill will be placed 


to a greater or less angle. Sew up specimen 
as before ; arrange and place in a long form and 
bind. The legs of such birds as yellow-legs may 

be stitched together at the tibial joint, then bent 
toward the sides, and the toes stitched to the skin. 
In making skins of all birds where the back of 
the head is opened, the orifice should not be sewed 
up until after the wire has been inserted in the 
upper mandible, as it may be necessary to add 
more cotton through here to make the throat 
or back of the head as full as in life. Sew up this 
orifice by taking fine stitches in only the extreme 

J O J 

edge of the skin, and the same caution must be 
exercised in sewing up accidental tears in the 
skin. Very tender skins may have tears mended 
by pasting tissue-paper neatly over the holes from 
the inside. In fact it is best to sew up tears 
from the inside, always using silk thread for the 

Section IV. : Making Skins of Herons, Ibises, 
etc. — Proceed exactly as in long-necked birds, 
but to make a compact skin lay the bird breast 
down, and turn the head and neck on the back, 
and fasten the legs to the sides. I always wire 
the necks, and for additional security, to prevent 
them being straightened by careless or inex- 


perienced persons, I stitch the bill to the skin of 
the back. In addition to sewing on the inside of 
the wing, stitch the wing firmly to the inside, by 
sewing over the outer primary into a pinch of skin 
on the side, thus the wing is fastened in two places. 

Ducks' skins may be made in a similar manner, 
but the feathers of the side must be brought over 
the wings, and the webs of the feet may be spread 
with a wire, which must be removed, however, 
when the feet are dry, or it will rust ; and galvan- 
ized or brass wire is the best for making skins. 

Section V. : Hawks, Owls, Eagles, Vul- 
tures, etc. — The skins of these large birds are 
made in forms, but the wings must be stitched to 
the sides, as in herons, etc. The necks must be 
wired. In making the skins of all large birds it 
is best to use bodies made of excelsior or grass, 
rather than cotton, which does not make a firm 
enough body. See remarks under mounting for 
instructions for making bodies ; but they do not 
need to be quite as solid for skins as in mounting ; 
in fact, keep them as light as possible. Too much 
care cannot be taken in forming the eyelids of all 
birds, especially large ones. Have the cavity oc- 
cupied by the eye round, with the cotton lying 
smoothly inside, and not projecting in a ragged 


Section VI. : Labelling Specimens. — A skin 
is of little value unless labelled with date, locality, 
and sex. Never lay a bird one side without a 
label is firmly attached to one foot or other part. 
The sex of birds is indicated by the astronomical 
signs of the planets ; Mars ( $ ) and Venus ( $ ), the 
former being, as is obvious, the mark for males 
and the latter for females. To keep these in 
mind one has only to remember, that that of Mars 
is a conventionalized spear and shield, indica- 
tions of his warlike profession, while that of 
Venus is supposed to represent a looking-glass, an 
article so indispensable to feminine taste. I use 
blank forms for labels, and the simpler the better; 
thus, below is one which I used during my last 
expedition to Florida : — 

Explorations in Florida, 

Bj- C. J. Maynard & Co., 

9 Pemberton Square, Boston, Mass. 

Rosezvood, Nov. 10, 1881. <f 

The sex of either, male or female, is printed, 
but at least two-thirds as many males as females 
are needed ; while any notes regarding the color 
of feet, bill, and iris of each specimen may be 
written on the back. The size given is the one 


used for specimens from the size of a humming- 
bird to that of a golden-winged woodpecker. The 
labels of ducks and herons may be attached to the 
beak by securing through the nostrils, as then 
they are more readily found. 

It is well to keep in mind that in order to have 
any value as a scientific specimen, a bird must be 
labelled as near as possible with date, locality, and 
sex, but never guess at either. If you have a skin 
in your possession that you are not absolutely 
certain about, either label it with an interrogation 
mark filling the part of which you are in doubt, or 
do not label it at all. Thus if you are unable to 
determine the sex satisfactorily, say so by draw- 
ing a line through the sex mark and substituting 
a query (?). 

Section VII. : Care of Skins, Cabinets, 
etc. — When skins are removed from the forms 
they should be dusted with a light feather-duster, 
striking them gently from the head downward so 
as not to ruffle the plumage. Although skins are 
well preserved from the attacks of demestes and 
anthrenus, which feed upon the skin, yet the 
feathers are always liable to be attacked by moths, 
while the skin on the feet or bills is also liable to 
be eaten. This may be prevented by washing the 


parts with a solution of bleached shelac dissolved 
in alcohol. By far the best way to insure absolute 
safety is to shut up the skins in insect-proof 
cabinets. Various methods have been tried to 
prevent the ingress of moths, etc., in cabinets, 
but the best and simplest is to have a door 
fitted to the outside of the drawers of an other- 
wise perfectly jointed cabinet. This door is 
provided with a bead which surrounds the out- 
side and fits in a groove on the margin of the 
woodwork outside the draws, while the whole door 
fits in a groove which extends quite across the 
bottom. Another method which we practise on 
our latest-made cabinets is to have each drawer 
moth-proof, by having a margin made all around it 
which fits into a groove, then all the drawers are 
covered by closing a flange on the sides. 

Section VIII. : Measuring Specimens. — Speci- 
mens of all rare birds should be measured. With 
the beginner, it is best to measure every specimen. 
I measured some fifteen thousand birds before I 
made a single skin without so doing, and now I am 
careful to take the dimensions of all rare speci- 
mens. The dimensions of a bird are taken as 
follows, using dividers and a rule marked in hun- 
dredths of the inch : First measure the extreme 


length from the tip of bill to end of tail ; then the 
extreme stretch of wing from tip to tip ; then the 
length of one wing from the scapular joint to tip 
of longest quill ; next, the length of tail from 
end of longest feather to its base at the insertion 
in the muscles ; now the length of bill along 
culmen or chord of upper mandibles ; and of 
tarsus from tarsal joint to base of toes. I have 
a blank sheet ruled, and fill it out as per sample 
(page 62). 

Section IX. : Making over Old Skins. — 
Sometimes it is desirable in case of rare birds 
to make over into presentable skins specimens 
which have been improperly prepared. Prepare a 
dampening box by placing a quantity of sand, 
dampened so as to just drip water, in any metal 
vessel having a tight-fitting cover. Then wrap 
the specimen to be made over in paper, lay it on 
the sand, and cover with a damp cloth folded 
several times. Place the cover on the vessel and 
set in a moderately warm place for about twenty- 
four hours if the specimen be small, longer if 
large. At the end of this time the skin will be 
quite pliable. Then remove the cotton and 
examine the inside of the skin carefully, and if 
there are any hard places caused by the skin 























t- 1 

) hri 







































































































































>— i 



>— t 



being too thick, scrape them down with a blunt 
knife or, better, use our skin-rasp, and thus thin 
them down until the feathers above are as flexible 
as in any other portion. If there be grease on the 
feathers or inside of the skin after scraping, wash 
with benzine, and dry with preservative as de- 
scribed. When every portion of the specimen is 
perfectly pliable, and all superfluous dried flesh 
has been removed, sew up the rents, and make up 
as in fresh birds, but such skins generally require 
more careful binding. It is also often necessary 
to wire the neck of even small birds, especially in 
badly shattered and decayed skins. 



Section I. : Instruments. — The instruments 
necessary for mounting are cutting pliers (Fig. 12), 
or tin shears, straight-nosed pliers (Fig. 1 1), wire 

Fig. 11. Fig. 12. 

of various sizes, tweezers, and other implements 
used in skin-making ; leg awls, for dried skins, and 
awls for boring stands ; also stands of various kinds. 
Section II. : Mounting from Fresh Speci- 
mens. — Be sure that a skin is perfectly clean in 
every way before attempting to mount, as it 
cannot be washed nearly as well afterwards. 
Remove all the bodies of skinned specimens well 
out of the way, and spread a clean sheet of paper 
where the skinning has been done, that there may 
be no danger of soiling the plumage. Make a 
body of fine grass, excelsior, or, better, the peculiar 


tough grass which grows in shady places, in sandy 
soil, is preferable, by winding with thread, moulding 
it so as to have it quite solid, shaping it in the 
hands until it assumes the exact length and 
breadth of the body removed, and as near its form 
as possible. Thus see that the back is fuller 
than the under side, and that there' is a well- 
defined breast. Great care should be taken not to 
get this body larger than the natural one ; if 
anything it should be smaller. With the pliers 
cut a piece of wire of the proper size, that is, of 
about half the diameter of the bird's tarsus, and 
about three times the length of the body. In 
cutting all wires which are to be sharpened, the 
cut should be made diagonally across it, thus 
forming a point. Push this wire through the 
body so that it will emerge in . the front much 
nearer the back than the breast, protruding so 
that it equals the length of the neck and tongue 
of body removed. Bend over the end remain- 
ing at the back, turn down about half of it and 
force it into the body (Fig. 13, c). This will hold 
firmly if the body has been made sufficiently solid. 
Wrap the wire with cotton by taking a strip and 
winding it gradually so that it assumes a taper- 
ing form with a portion of the wire protruding. 



Place this body in the skin and push the pro- 
truding wire into the upper mandible. Cut two 
wires of about half the size of that already used, 
and twice the length of the outstretched wing. 
Work these into the wings, beginning at the 
fleshy portion of the phalanges, so on into the 
body, taking care not to allow it to pierce through 

Fig. 13. 

the skin anywhere. The wire should enter the body 
at the point where the end of the lower portion 
of the forearm touches it when the wing is folded 
naturally. Pass the wire through the body diag- 
onally until it emerges so that it can be grasped 
with the pliers somewhere near the orifice, and 
firmly clenched. Next find the metacarpal bone, 
which has a hollow place in the centre (Fig. 14, f), 
and force the upper end of the wire through it so 



that about a quarter of inch shall protrude on the 
upper side of the wing, and bend this down by 
applying one jaw of the flat pliers on the side of 

the wing opposite. This will fasten the wing 
firmly, and the spurious wing will cover the wire, 
while that on the lower side will be concealed 


by the feathers. The wing should be outstretched 
when this is done. 

Cut wire for the legs of the same size as used for 
the neck, and about as long. Pass them up through 
the tarsus, inserting in the middle of the sole of 
the foot. Be sure the wire is perfectly straight 
before attempting this. A good way to straighten 
wire is to place a pine-board on the floor, stand on 
it, and then draw a long pull of wire under it by 
grasping the end with pliers ; or a small piece of 
wire may be straightened by rolling it on the 
bench with a file. If the skin of the tarsus splits 
in boring, it shows that the wire used is either 
too large or crooked. After the wire is pushed up 
to the heel or tarsal joint (Fig. 15, f), turn the 
tibial bone out until the point of the wire appears, 
when it should be grasped and drawn up so that 
the point protrudes slightly beyond the tibial 
joint. Wrap the tibial bone, wire and all, with 
cotton or tow (in large specimens, the wire should 
be bound to the bone with fine wire or thread) so 
as to form a natural leg, then draw it back into 
the skin. Next force the wire through the body 
at the point where the knee touches it, or about 
midway on the side. The wire will emerge on the 
opposite side. Turn down the skin of the orifice, 



draw the wire out, leaving about enough project- 
ing out of the sole of the foot to go through the 
perch of a stand and clench ; then fasten the end 
firmly into the body. On large birds, like eagles, 
I draw the wire through the body twice before 

Fig. 15. 

clenching, to make all secure. This work must 
be well done if the bird is to be mounted nicely, as 
it must stand firmly on its feet. As a rule, use 
wire large enough, at least, to support the weight 
of the body and skin without bending, but wire 
one-half the size of the tarsus is generally large 


enough to do this. Cut a tail-wire which is at 
least as long as the entire bird. Insert it under 
the tail, so that it enters the muscles in which the 
feathers are embodied, taking care that it does not 
spread them apart ; push this up the centre of the 
body so that it will emerge at an angle just at the 
upper portion of the Orifice, and clench it. Bend 
the remaining end under the tail twice, so as to 
form a T, on which the tail may rest, and which 
should, however, have the top broad enough to 
spread the tail on to the required width. During 
wiring see that the plumage is ruffled as little as 
possible ; also avoid soiling by keeping the speci- 
men on clean paper. If by chance the feathers 
become greasy, they may be cleaned by sprinkling 
liberally with the dermal preservative, which is 
afterward brushed off. 

Sew up the orifice neatly, taking care, as before 
described, only to take in the extreme outer edge 
of the skin ; and, if the body be not too large, it 
will meet nicely. If the body has not been made 
quite large enough, especially on the breast, some 
cotton may be placed between the skin and body 
before sewing. This must be done neatly, with 
tweezers however, not so as to form a wad, but 
spread out so as to blend neatly with the curve of the 


body. Now place the wires which protrude from 
the feet in holes bored in the perch of the stand, 
which should be about as far apart as the bird na- 
turally stands while perching. See that the feet 
come well down on the perch with the toes arranged 
properly, remembering that cuckoos, woodpeckers, 
etc., have two toes in front and two behind, while 
with hawks, owls, etc., the outer toe generally stands 
at right angles with the others, and should therefore 
grasp the end of the stand. Either twist the ends 
of the wire together or wind them around the 
stand very firmly. Now comes the most difficult 
part of the task of mounting. Hitherto all has 
been merely mechanical ; certain rules had to be 
observed only. But now the instructor must 
pause for want of words wherewith to express his 
meaning, for who can tell an artist how to put in 
those bold and hasty strokes with which he maps 
out his picture? He knows just what he is about, 
however, for he has before his mental vision the 
complete picture, and strives to place on canvas 
that which appears before him. So must the artistic 
taxidermist have before him a vision of the bird he 
wishes to represent, with the combined mass of 
feathers now in hand. Whether lightly poised for 
flight or calmly sitting at rest, before he puts his 


hand to the work before him let him fully decide 
what he wishes to produce. Let him see it just 
as clearly as he sees the birds sporting in their 
natural element. The true artist does not copy 
what the imagination of others have produced, he 
invents for himself or takes nature as his guide. 
Let us then who aspire to the highest in taxider- 
mal art, take infallible nature as our guide. 
Study carefully every poise of the birds, every 
uplifting of the wing, every turn of the head or 
motion of the eyelids. I have long made a prac- 
tice of keeping birds in confinement in order to 
thoroughly impress on my mind the different 
attitudes which they assume. I have had nearly 
all species of our owls, hawks, and eagles, and 
have kept herons, gulls, terns, pelicans, auks, and 
almost countless numbers of smaller birds, and 
in this way I have become so familiar with them 
that I can tell at a glance whether a bird is 
mounted in an easy attitude. Well, there must be 
no hesitation in mounting birds, or the specimens 
will dry ; and I will merely state in what order I 
arrange the different members, then leave the 
attitudes to my pupils. I first see that the bird 
stands correctly, that the legs are bent so that the 
bird will balance well in the position in which I 



wish it to be placed. As a rule, a perpendicular 
line drawn through the back of the head of a 
perching bird will fall through its feet (see Fig. 

16, a a). Now bring the bird into position, and 
fold the wings just as the bird does it. Note if the 
scapularies, tertiaries, and secondaries lie in their 


proper places, the first highest and the others 
under them, which will give the bird a good 
rounded back. Now place the bird in the proper 
attitude, with the neck properly bent, remember- 
ing that in nearly all birds this nearly assumes the 
form of the letter S, especially in long-necked 
species. I do not like to see a bird staring 
straight forward, but, as this is a mere matter of 
fancy, I will not presume to dictate regarding 
attitudes, only make the specimen look easy. Be 
artistic, even if the specimen is going into a 
public museum, where birds too often stare at the 
visitors in grotesque attitudes. One can be 
interesting and easy even in writing on the driest 
scientific subject, — why not then give ease and 
grace to our museum specimens ? No more room 
need be occupied ; a slight turn of the head, a 
twist of the neck, or an advance of a foot, will do 
this just as a bird would do it if it were alive. 
Now place the eyes in position, and these should be 
pushed well into the clay, and the lids arranged 
over them naturally with a needle. Do not have 
the eyes too large, as it gives the bird a staring ex- 
pression, nor too small, but as near as possible to 
the natural ones removed. It would be well in 
ordering eyes from a dealer to give the measure- 


ments of the required eye in hundredths of an 
inch. A good colored eye should not, in my opin- 
ion, have too much clear or flint glass in front of 
the pupil. This should be thinner and thus flatter, 
as seen in eyes of German manufacture. In point 
of perfect coloring, French eyes are the best and 
most expressive, but they do not have the requisite 
flatness and the thinness of flint which the German 
eyes possess. English eyes may be mentioned as 
third in the catalogue of quality, while America 
must unfortunately come last. The above re- 
marks, however, are true only as regards colored 
eyes, as black eyes are almost always good, no 
matter where manufactured. 

After the bird is placed in the required attitude, 
smooth the feathers with the aid of small tweezers, 
noting that all lines and spots are in their proper 
places. The primary quills should be kept in 
position by clamping with fine wire ; that is, a 
piece of wire should be bent on itself like a hair- 
pin and slipped over the edge of the wing. 
Spread the tail by laying it on the cross-piece of 
wire under it, and clamp it down with a piece of 
very fine wire, which is wound around each end of 
the cross-piece. If the tail is to be spread very 
widely then run a wire through the two outer 


quills, thus keeping them apart ; though even then 
the clamp should be used. If a convex or concave 
tail is desired, bind the cross-piece in a corre- 
sponding manner. I do not, as a rule, recommend 
binding freshly-skinned birds, nor do I consider it 
necessary excepting in instances where feathers 
are rough. If a bird be properly mounted a few 
more clamps on the wings will keep it in form; 
then the feathers can be made to stand out as 
they do in nature, not lie down close to the body 
as if the birds were badly frightened. This is 
particularly noticeable with owls ; a perfectly 
happy and contented owl, who is pursuing his 
vocations, has apparently a body nearly or quite 
twice the diameter of one that is frightened. 

Section III. : Crested Birds. — If a bird has a 
crest it should be raised by gently pulling forward 
the skin, where it will remain in position after it is 
neatly arranged ; but in case of a dried skin, it may 
be necessary to prop the crest up with a piece of 
cotton, moulded on the head of a pin, the point of 
which is sunk into the head. 

Section IV. : Mounting with Wings Spread. 
— In skinning for spread wings, leave in the 
humerus as well as the forearm, and do not 
detach the quills, as already mentioned. Wire the 


wing from the inside, and clench firmly in the 
body ; wrap the humerus to the natural size with 
cotton, after fastening the supporting wire to the 
"bone with fine wire or thread. Push both wires 
into the shoulders of the artificial body at once, at 
the same time pushing the neck-wire and body 
into position. This can be learned by practice. 
Proceed as before, but support the wings while 
setting on either side by long wire clamps. Be 
sure, however, that the supporting wire is strong 
enough to hold the wing in position without these, 
and thus when the wings are dry they will be 
very strong. 

Section V. : Mounting Birds for Screens, 
etc — Proceed as in specimens with wings spread, 
but sometimes the wings should be cut off, sewed 
on on opposite sides, so that they may be reversed ; 
that is, the back of the wing may be toward the 
breast in cases where it is desired that the back 
of the wings and breast should show. It is usual 
to stretch the wings up over the head, which 
emerges between them. The wings had better 
be kept in position with strips of pasteboard fas- 
tened together with wire. Sometimes both sides 
of the specimen show; or, in other instances, the 
back is covered with paper, silk, velvet, or other 


Section VI. : Mounting Dried Skins. — 
Soften as directed in making over dried skins, 
observing the caution given under that section, 
and have the skin very pliable. The cavities of 
the eyes may be filled from the mouth or from the 
inside of the skin. If the skin be too tender to 
turn, rasp it down by working through the orifice. 
Mount as directed in fresh specimens, but dried 
skins almost always require to be bound with 
winding cotton in order to keep the feathers in 
place. They also require rather more harder filling 
with cotton. This should be wrapped around the 
bird in as continuous a string as possible until all the 
feathers lie smoothly. They may be arranged under 
the bindings with small tweezers. Avoid binding 
too closely or too tight, and above all things bind 
evenly, that is, do not make depressions nor allow 
elevations to appear, for, as a rule, these will always 
remain after the bindings have been removed. 
Small birds should be allowed to stand at least a 
week in a dry place before the bindings are 
removed. Birds mounted from skins dry more 
quickly than from fresh specimens. Large birds 
should stand from two weeks to a month, especi- 
ally if the wings be spread. To remove the 
binding threads, cut down the back, thus taking it 
all off at once. 


Section VII. : Prices for Mounting Birds. 
— For the convenience of amateurs, who do not 
always know what price to put on good work, we 
give our price list for mounting specimens on orna- 
mental stands. Size from humming-bird to robin, 
one dollar and twenty five cents ; robin to wild 
pigeon, one dollar and fifty cents ; wild pigeon to 
grouse, two dollars ; grouse, ducks, small owls, two 
dollars and fifty cents ; large hawks and medium- 
sized owls, three dollars and fifty cents ; loons and 
large owls, five dollars ; eagles, seven dollars. For 
birds with spread wings, add thirty-three and one- 
third per cent. 

Section VIII. : Panel Work. — Game Pieces, 
etc — Panel work is made by using only half of a 
specimen, the back side being turned in or 
removed. The specimen is mounted as usual and 
fastened to the picture or other design used as a 
back ground, by wires emerging from the side and 
firmly clenched in the body. Game pieces are 
made by simply mounting the specimen, then 
placing it in an attitude as if it were hanging dead. 
Much skill and study is required for work of this 
nature, for if carelessly done, it has the effect of 
a poor painting, but if well completed both panel 
and game pieces produce a pleasing effect. All 


such work should be usually placed behind glass, 
as, in fact, is true with all mounted birds, especi- 
ally light-plumaged birds, which are liable to 
become soiled through exposure to dust. Mounted 
birds, not kept in moth-proof cases, should be care- 
fully dusted at least twice a week to prevent the 
attacks of moths. 



Section I. : Plain Stands. — The best stands 
for the cabinet are simple wooden ones, either of 
pine or other woods, turned by machinery with a 
simple cross-piece for perching birds. As a rule, 
the shaft should be about as high as the cross- 
piece is long, but in cases of specimens with long 
tails, the shaft should be somewhat higher, while 
the base should a little exceed in diameter the 
length of the perch, and should be about as thick 
as the shortest diameter of the other parts. 

Section II. : Ornamental Stands. — Papier- 
mache used for making ornamental stands is quite 
difficult to make, but following is the receipt : 
Reduce paper to a perfect pulp by boiling and 
then rubbing through a sieve. To every quart of 
this pulp add a pint of fine wood-ashes and a half 
pint of plaster. Heat this mass over the fire, and 
to every quart add a quarter of a pound of glue, 
which has been thoroughly dissolved in a glue-pot. 



Mix well until it is of the consistency of putty, 
when it is ready for use. 

In making a twig for an ordinary perch, fasten 
a moderately stout wire in a wooden base ; wind it 
with cotton, larger at the base, tapering toward 
the end ; bend it in a position and cover with a 
layer of papiermache, then with a comb indicate 
the ridges in the bark of a tree, and add knots and 
excrescences as desired, by moulding small pieces 
with the fingers. Set aside to dry for a few 
days. If the papier-mache cracks it does not con- 
tain a sufficient quantity of glue, or if it shrinks 
too much, more ashes or plaster should be added. 
When dry paint with water-colors, made by adding 
dry paint to dissolved white glue, stirring until the 
mixture becomes of the consistency of cream. 
A quarter of a pound of glue will take up a pound 
of paint. Cover the bottom of the stand with this 
paint, or with some other color, then sprinkle 
profusely with smalt or mica sand. When dry, 
add artificial leaves to the branches by winding 
the stems around them. Trim the bottom of the 
stand with mosses and grass fastened on with 
glue. Stands for cases are made in a similar 
manner, but it is an improvement to touch the 
ground-work here and there with dry paint of 


various colors. A piece of looking-glass may be 
used to imitate water ; and ducks from which the 
lower portions have been cut away may be placed 
on this with a good effect. A very good stand 
may be made by simply winding a wire with 
cotton and painting the cotton. The cotton can 
be made into a species of papier-mache by soaking 
it in flour-paste. Rock work is made of either 
papier-mache, cork, blocks of wood, or pieces of 
turf painted and sanded, or by pasting stout paper 
over pieces of wood, and the whole structure 
painted and sanded. If papier-mache be used the 
effect may be heightened by sticking in pieces of 
quartz or other rock. Natural stumps, branches, 
etc., may be manufactured into stands or cases to 
advantage ; in short, with the aid of papier-mache^ 
glue, moss, grasses, smalt, etc., nature may be 
imitated in a variety of ways. 




Mammals are, as a rule, much more difficult to 
procure than birds, especially the smaller species. 
Mice occur in all localities. The white-footed 
mice are often found in the deserted nests of 
squirrels or of crows in the tree-tops. Jumping- 
mice are found in the meadows, under haycocks or 
in nests deep in the earth during winter, at which 
time they are in a dormant condition. Field- 
mice of several species occur in the meadows, 
where they have nests, while the house-mouse 
and several species of mice inhabit dwellings. All 
these little rodents may be trapped by using a 
variety of bait, and the same is true of squirrels, 
which are, however, quite easy to shoot. The 
gray, red, and flying-squirrels live in nests placed 
in bushes or trees or in holes in tree-trunks. 
Shrews and moles burrow in the ground, and they 
may be snared by setting fine wire nooses in their 
holes. Cats often bring in these little mammals 
8 4 


and leave them lying around, as they rarely eat 
them. A pit dug in an open field or a barrel set 
down with the top on a level with the ground 
and half filled with water will be the means of 
capturing many rare, small mammals which fall 
into it accidentally. Mink, weasel, otter, rabbits, 
skunks, etc., may be trapped or shot. A variety of 
bait may be used to decoy animals of this class, 
and the contents of the scent-bags of any of these 
species are good ; as well as fish, birds, or small 
mammals. Foxes, wolves, etc., which occur in the 
wilder sections, may be shot or trapped, and the 
same is true of wild-cats, pumas, and other large 
mammals, in procuring which the hunter must be 
guided by circumstances. 



Section I. : Skinning Small Mammals. — 
Lay the animal on its back, make an incision 
about one-third of the length of the body on the 
under side of the body from the vent forward, peel 
down on either side until the knee-bones are 
exposed, then cut the joint and draw out the leg, 
at least as far as the heel. Remove the flesh, 
cover well with preservative, and turn, then pro- 
ceed thus with the opposite leg, Pull down to the 
tail and draw out the bone by placing a stick on 
the under side of it and pressing backward. If the 
tail bone does not readily come out, as in musk- 
rats, wrap the tail in cloth and pound it with a 
wooden mallet, and it will then come out without 
further trouble. Peel down on either side until 
the front legs appear, cut off at elbow joints, and 
draw these out ; remove the flesh, cover with pre- 
servative, and turn. Skin over the head, taking 
care to cut off the ear next the skull, so as not to 


cut through into the exterior surface ; pull down 
the edges, cut between the lids and eye-sockets 
down to the lips, cut between these and the bone, 
but near the latter, thus removing the skin entirely 
from the skull ; cover the skin well with preserva- 
tive, after removing all fat and surplus bits of 
flesh. Then turn the skin, detach the skull from 
the body, by carefully cutting between the atlas, 
the last vertebra joint, and the skull. The skull 
should be boiled to remove all the flesh and brain ; 
or, if this cannot readily be done, and if the mam- 
mal be very small, roll it in preservative, and lay it 
one side ; if the animal be large, cut off all the flesh 
possible, and work out the brain through the open- 
ing in the base of the skull. It is always, however, 
best to remove the flesh by boiling ; after which 
care should be taken to tie the lower jaw firmly to 
the upper. 

Section II.: Skinning Large Mammals.— 
Large mammals should be skinned by making a 
cross incision down the entire length of the breast, 
between the fore-legs to the vent, then down the 
under side of each leg quite to the feet. Remove 
the skin but leave in two bones and the joints in 
each leg. In removing the horns of a deer or other 
ruminant, make cross cuts between the horns, 


and then back down on the neck for a short dis- 
tance. The lips of a large mammal should be split 
open carefully, and the ears turned out quite to the 
tip ; this can be done with a little practice. Cover 
with preservative, well rubbed in, and dry as quickly 
as possible without tearing. 

Section III. : Making Skins of Mammals. — 
Remove all blood and dirt, by either washing or 
by continuous brushing with a stiff brush. Dry 
off with preservative : rub it well into the hair. 
Draw out the bones of the leg, wrap them well 
with cotton to the original size of the leg; then 
fill out the head to the size and form of life, sew- 
ing up the neck, and fill up to the body to the size 
of nature with cotton or tow. Sew up the orifice, 
then lay the skin, belly down, with the feet laid 
neatly ; and if the tail is long, lay it over the back. 

Mice and other small mammals should not have 
the bone of the tail removed, as the skin cannot be 
filled and turned over the back easily. Large 
mammals may be also made up if they are to be 
used for cabinets or for skins. 

Section IV. : Measuring Mammals. — It is 
quite as easy to measure mammals as birds. The 
dimensions to be taken may be seen by the accom- 
panying filled blank, which is the form I always use. 


8 9 


















1 ss 

to S° 













1— • 































Root of Tail. 











Outstretched Hind Leg. 







End of Vertebra. 







End of Hair. 









Hind Leg. 

























Height of Ear. 













1 1 | Length. 
































Section I. : Small Mammals. — Skin as 
directed, but the skull should not, as a rule, be 
detached unless the animal be large enough to 
have the lips split. The eye cavities should also 
be filled with clay. Cut a piece of wire of the 
suitable size to support the head ; have it about 
twice as long as the head and body of the speci- 
men in hand. Wind up a turn or two with the 
pliers small enough to enter the cavity in the base 
of the skull, which will have to be enlarged to 
admit of the ready removal of the brains. Place 
the wound portion of the wire in this cavity, and 
fill in around it with either plaster of paris, or 
tamp in excelsior, tow, or cotton firmly enough 
to hold the skull perfectly firm on the wire. 
Wind up a body of excelsior or grass, as nearly the 
form and size of the one removed as possible, taking 
care that the neck be of proper shape, and that the 
surface be very smooth. 


This surface may be covered with a thin layer of 
clay or of papier-mache, if a very nice smooth 
surface is required, in case of short-haired mam- 
mals. Cut four wires for the legs and one for the 
tail. Run the wire up the front legs, and tie them 
firmly to the bone with fine wire, especially at the 
joints. Now wind each leg with cotton, hemp, or 
tow to the size and form of the muscles removed. 
In order to get the legs very exact, one may be 
wound before the muscles of the other be removed, 
and measurements may thus be taken. The legs 
may be also covered with papier-mache or a thin 
layer of clay in short-haired mammals. Now 
place the body in position, taking care that the 
wire of the head goes the entire length of the 
body, and is firmly clinched. 

The wires of the front legs should enter the 
body at the proper point on the shoulder. The 
wires of the hind legs should also enter the body 
at the point near the back, where they join the 
natural body. Run a wire the entire length of the 
tail and fasten in the lower end of the body. See 
that all wires are firmly clinched, and sew up 
the orifice. Bend the legs into as natural a posi- 
tion as possible, and insert the wires protruding 
from the soles of the feet into the holes in the 


stand or perch ; bend the body in position, insert 
the eyes, arranging the lids carefully over them, 
taking care the eye has the proper form in the 

Arrange the eyelids and ears by occasionally 
moulding them into form as they dry. Smooth 
the tail carefully and attend to all the little de- 
tails, such as spreading the toes etc., etc., and 





Fig. 17. 

carefully watch them from day to day, until the 
animal becomes perfectly dry. 

Section II.: Large Mammals. — In drawing 
the lines between mammals mounted as described 
above and the present method, it may be well to 
remark that the one now given is the best in all 
cases, but requires rather too much time to be used 
with very small specimens. Have five large wires 
or bolts of a suitable size to support the mammal 
mounted, cut to the proper length, and cut a screw 
on either end for about two inches (Fig. 17, a). 


Screw a broad flat nut on (Fig. 17, b), then have 
another nut ready to screw on above the first. 
Prepare a strip of board a little shorter than the 
natural body of the mammal, and in this bore four 
holes, two at each end, with one extra between the 
two, but a little back of them on the front end. 
After bending the bolts so as to form the legs, 
place the ends in the holes and screw on the 
nuts, place the lower ends of the irons in the 
holes in the stand and screw on the nuts, thus 
the beginning of the structure will stand firm. 
Fasten the end of the fifth iron firmly in the brain 
cavity by filling in with plaster, or wedging in 
pieces of wood, and screw the lower end in place. 
Now wind excelsior on the legs to the proper size 
and form ; cover it with a thin layer of cotton. 
Then place on the body in sections of excelsior of 
exactly the form and size of life, and cover with 
clay. The neck is now to be formed in the same 
way; of course to get all the parts accurate, one 
must have the natural body, which has been re- 
moved, at hand, or should have the correct 
measurement of it. The skin, from which the leg 
bones have been removed quite to the toe-nails, 
may be fitted on occasionally to judge the effect. 
Procure sheet lead, and, if too thick, beat it out; 


cut it in the form of the cartilage removed from 
the ear. Fasten wire into these pieces of lead with 
the ends protruding downward ; bore holes in the 
skull into which the ends are introduced, thus form- 
ing the support, and keeping the ears in proper 
position. Supply the muscles of the skull with 
excelsior and clay or papier-mache, then adjust 
the skin firmly and sew up. Fill the lips and nose 
with papier-mache or clay, and mould into shape. 
The above instructions, if followed, will give a 
mounted specimen, but I cannot convey the ideas 
which must teach the student the exact poise, the 
swell of the muscle, the exact shape of the eye 
which will give life and beauty to the subject in 
hand ; all these must come from patience, study, 
and long practice, for skilful taxidermists do not 
spring at once into existence, but require expe- 
rience and careful education. 

Section III. : Mounting Dried Skins of 
Mammals. — Skins of mammals must be soaked in 
a strong solution of alum water, and when perfectly 
soft see that the parts above the lips, eyes, etc., 
are peeled down quite thin, and that every portion 
of the skin is perfectly pliable, then it should be 
moistened as described. 

Section IV. : Mounting Mammals Without 


any Bones. — If the skull of a mammal be desired 
for a skeleton, a cast may be taken of the entire 
head before the flesh is removed, by placing the 
head in a box which will contain it and leave a 
space around it ; pour in plaster of paris to the 
consistency of cream, until the head is about half 
covered — which should be placed on the bottom of 
the box, lower jaw down — let the plaster set ; now 
cover the top surface of the plaster with paint, or 
oil, or paste paper over it. Then fill up the box 
with fresh plaster : after this has set well remove 
the side of the box and open the mould where the 
joint was made with the paint or paper. Take out 
the head, and then cut a hole in the mould at the 
base of the skull, in which the plaster for the head 
may be poured. Paint or oil the inside of the 
mould everywhere, fit the pieces together, then 
tie firmly and pour in the plaster for the mould ; 
then insert the bolt for the head in the hofe, and 
let the plaster set around it. Remove the mould 
by chipping off pieces with a chisel until the paint 
surface is exposed. If the head be large and heavy, 
a large ball of excelsior, in which the bolt is firmly 
fastened, may be placed in the centre, but this 
must be covered with a thin layer of clay to make it 
impervious to plaster. The lips and other naked 


spaces must be painted the color of life, with paint 
mixed with varnish, first filling out the imperfec- 
tions with parafrlne wax. Casts may be taken of 
the larger in wax, making a mould in plaster. 



Mounting reptiles, batrachians, and fishes as 
collected in this department is scarcely a part of 
taxidermy. I shall only give general instructions 
regarding mounting some species. Snakes may be 
readily skinned by cutting a longitudinal insertion 
about a fourth of the distance down from the head 
on the lower side where the body begins to enlarge, 
near its greatest diameter ; then the skin may be 
speedily taken off both ways. When the vent is 
reached the skin comes away harder, but in order 
to make a perfect piece of work it must be skinned 
quite to the end of the tail, even if it splits open ; 
the eyes must be removed from the inside of the 
head. The skin on the top of the head cannot be 
removed in this class of animals, leaving the jaw 
and skull. Cover well with preservative, and turn 
the skin. To mount, two ways are practised, one 
with plaster, in which the orifice on the inside and 
the vent are sewed up, and the plaster poured into 



the mouth until the snake is filled. It is well, how- 
ever, to place a copper wire the entire length of the 
animal to strengthen it ; then before the plaster is 
set, place the snake in the proper attitude. This 
kind of work requires practice, as you must be 
careful of the attitude in which you wish to place 
the animal, as the plaster begins to set quite 
quickly ; to make it set more slowly, however, mix 
in a little salt. The mouth should be filled up 
with clay or plaster. Care should be taken that 
water does not accumulate in any portion of the 
skin, and it should be perforated with an awl occa- 
sionally to allow the water to escape. The skin of 
a snake may be filled with papier-mache by working 
small pieces downward ; then insert a wire and 
place into position. The skin requires some time 
to dry, and in both cases place the mounted reptile 
in a dry place, where it will rapidly dry, as the skin 
is liable to decay if kept in a damp place. 

Section I. : Mounting Lizards, Alligators, 
etc. — Reptiles of this description should be 
skinned like mammals, through a longitudinal in- 
sertion made in the abdomen. The skin from the 
top of the head cannot be removed however. In 
mounting, proceed exactly as in mammals, but as 
there is no hair to hide defects, all cotton, excelsior, 


etc., wound on the bones must be very smooth. 
The attitudes of all this class of animals are apt to 
be stiff and ungainly even in life ; but by putting a 
bend or two into the tail, turning the head, or 
slightly curving the body, too much rigidness 
may be avoided. 

Section II.: Mounting Turtles. — To re- 
move the skin from a turtle, cut away a square 
portion of the under shell, using a small saw for 
this purpose. Then remove the softer portion 
through this hole, and draw out the legs and head 
as in mammals ; but the top of the head cannot be 
skinned over. In mounting proceed as nearly as 
possible as in mammals, only the legs may be filled 
with clay or plaster in small specimens. Care 
should be taken not to fill the skin too full ; but 
let the wrinkles show, as seen in life, and imitated 
as nearly as possible. 

The shell of the soft-shelled turtle, like the 
leather-back, is quite difficult to keep in good 
condition — is apt to become distorted in drying, 
The only method which has occurred to me is to 
cover the body, and exposed under portions, with 
layers of plaster, which will keep the shell in 
position until it is dry, when it may be removed. 

Section III. : Mounting Fishes. — Fishes are 


quite difficult to skin, especially those with scales. 
In flat fishes I remove a portion of one side, 
skinning the other; then, in mounting, lay the 
animal on its side. Mounting in this case means 
filling the fish to its natural life-size with cotton, 
tow, or other available material. Plaster or clay 
will also answer. The fins may be pinned out flat 
against pasteboard, or put in place with fine wire. 

In skinning larger fishes, or those which have 
no scales, or scaled fishes which have cylindrical 
shaped bodies, open from beneath by cutting nearly 
the whole length of the body. The skin from 
some fishes comes off easily, while in others it is 
more difficult to remove. In mounting large fishes 
use a hard core to the body, made of either wire or 
wood. The fins should be wired from the inside; 
care should be taken that the skin lies smoothly 
over the surface beneath, as it shows considerably 
m drying, and all imperfections around it. 

In preserving the skins of all reptiles and fishes 
the dermal will be found excellent, especially in 
removing the oil from the skins, etc. Cover well 
with the preservative, and nothing more will be 
necessary. Skins of this class of animals may be 
kept for future mounting by simply coating with the 
preservative, and kept turned wrong side out with- 


out filling. When they are to be mounted throw 
them into water, in which a small quantity of 
dermal has been dissolved. When they are soft 
turn and mount as in fresh skins. 




Alaudidae 14 

Alcidae 26 

Alcidinidae 15 

Alligators 98 

American warblers 14 

Ammunition for repeating guns 10 

Ampelidae . 15 

Anatidae 24 

Aramidae 23 

Ardidse 23 

Arsenic a dangerous poison 49 

Ascertaining the sex of birds 43 

Auks 26 

Avocets 22 


Batrachians 97 

Basket for collecting birds 29 

Bird lime 6 

Birds 1 

Box-trap 1 

Blackbirds 16 

Breech-loading guns 8 

Burrowing owl, Newbury.port, Mass 27 

Cabinets . 59 

Caprimulgidse . .17 




Care of skins . 

Care of specimens 

Catching wounded birds 




Cinclidae . 

Clap-net . 


Collecting birds 

Collecting mammals 






Corvidae . 


Courlans . 


Crested birds — mounting 


Cuckoos . 


Cuts of the skull 

Cutting-pliers . 










J 9 





. 25 

Dermal preservative .... 

. 45 

Dried skins, mounting 

. . 78 

Drying forms ..... 

. 51 


. 24 

Ducks' skins 

• 57 

Dusting birds 

. So 

INDEX. 105 


Eagle as decoy ........ 6 

Eagles 20 

Ever-ready bird-trap 3 

Exceptions to the usual method of skinning . . . 39 


Falconidae 20 

Falcons 20 

Finches . . . . - . . .16 

Fishes 97 

Form for measurements of mammals . . . .89 

Fly-catchers 17 

Frigate birds . 25 

Fringilidac 16 


Gallinules 24 

Gannets 24 

Game pieces 79 

Geese . 24 

Goatsuckers . . 17 

Graculidae ......... 75 

Grebes . .26 

Grosbeaks . .16 

Grouse 21 

Gruidae 23 

Gulls 26 


Hsematopodidse 22 

Hawk as decoy ........ 5 

Hawks .20 

Herons 23 



Herons' skins • . .24 

Hirundinidas 15 

Humming birds 18 


Ibis 23 

Ibis' skins . . . 56 

Icteridas 16 

Instruments for mounting ...... 64 


Jays 17 


Killing wounded birds 30 

Kingfishers 19 

Labelling specimens 


Label, sample .... 


Large birds, mounting . 

7 6 

Large mammals, mounting 


Large mammals' skins . 

- . 


Laridas ..... 


Lizards .... 


Loading shells 


Loons ..... 



Making over old skins 61 

. 49 

Making skins of long-necked birds 


Making skins of mammals 


Making skins of small birds . 





Mammals .... 
Maynard's dermal preservative 
Measurements of birds recorded 
Measuring birds 

Measuring mammals 



Mounting birds 

Mounting dried skins, birds 

Mounting dried skins, mammals 

Mounting fishes .... 

Mounting fresh specimens, birds 

Mounting fresh specimens, mammals 

Mounting lizards, alligators, etc. 

Mounting mammals 

Mounting mammals without any bones 

Mounting with wings spread . 

Mounting reptiles, batrachians, and fishes 

Mounting screens 

Mounting turtles 









Naturalists' guide 44 

Nuthatches 13 


Old skins, making over 61 

Other methods of preparing skins 47 

Ordinary method of skinning birds . . . .43 

Orioles 16 

Ouzels 13 

Owl as decoy . . . . . . , . . . 5 

Owls 20 

Oyster-catchers .22 



Panel work 70 

Papier-mache 82 

Paridse 13 

Parrots 21 

Part I . . .1 

Part II 84 

Pelecanidae 24 

Pelicans 24 

Petrels . . . 26 

Phaetonidse 25 

Phalaropodidae 22 

Phalarops 22 

Phcenicopteridas 24 

Picidae 19 

Plain stands . . . . . • . .81 

Pliers 64 

Pigeons 22 

Plovers 22 

Plotidas 25 

Plugging mouths of birds . • 33 

Podocipidas 26 

Preservative 45 

Preserving skins 44 

Prices for mounting birds 79 

Procellaridae . 26 

Procuring birds .11 

Psittacidae 19 

Puffins . .26 

Quail 21 




Rails 24 

Rallidae 24 

Recurvirostridae 22 

Repeating collecting gun 9 

Sample label for birds 



Sex of birds 

Shooting birds 

Shot for birds 

Sieve trap 


Skinning birds 


Skinning large mammals 

Skinning small mammals 

Skins of birds . 

Skins of hawks 

Skins of herons, ibises, etc. 

Skins of long-necked birds 

Skins of owls . 

Skins of small birds 

Skins of vultures 

Small mammals 



Sparrows . 


Steel traps 



















Strigidae 22 

Sulidas 24 

Swallows 15 

Swifts' 18 

Sylvidae ■ 13 

Sylvicolidae .14 


Tachypetidae 25 

Tanagers . . . . • . . . . -15 

Tanagridae 15 

Tantalidas 23 

Terns . . . . . . . . . , . 26 

Tetraonidae 21 

Thrushes 12 

Titmice 13 

Trapping birds . . 1 

Trochilidae 18 

Troglodytidae 13 

Tropic birds 25 

True larks 14 

True warblers 13 

Turdidae 12 

Turnstones 22 

Tweezers 50 

Tyrannidae . 17 


Vironidae 15 

Vireos 15 

Vultures 21 


Wagtails 14 

Warblers, American 14 


Warblers, true % 13 

Waxwings . . 15 

Wings spread, mounting 76 

Woodpeckers 18 

Wrens . . . . 13 

Wrentits . 13 


No. 9 Pemberton Square, 
Boston, Mass. 



Birds' Eggs, Nests, Skins, &c, &c. 

We make a Specialty of NATURALISTS' and 
ments for Egg-Blowing, Skinning, Mounting, 
etc. Also, 


and in fact all Supplies needed by the Collector 
and Taxidermist. 

Send for Catalogue, addressing as above. 

lObb.HLlUfSJ St CO, 

-m > PMeywQii; < m~ 































We carry the most complete assortment that can be obtained. 







The Best, Most Perfect, Smallest and Nieer.t 

Colored Arrow Points in 

the world. 


A Fine, Perfect Point, sent registered, on receipt of $1.00. 

f. lve. gilham, 

241 Battery Street, San Francisco, Cal. 


I IV I* H E S S. 
Handbook of Entomology. By Prof. C. V. Riley. This 

Avork Avill be an introduction to the study of Entomology, and as such 
will find a place occupied by no American book. It Avill be thoroughly 
illustrated. 1 vol. 8\ T o. Cloth, $3.00. 

Manual of the Mosses of the United States. With 

copper-plates illustrating the Genera. By Leo Lesquereux and 
Thomas P. James. 

It is particularly desired that botanists wishing copies should notify the 
publishers at an early day, that the edition may be decided on. The price 
has not yet been fixed, but probably A\ r ill be §3.50. 

Botanical Micro-Chemistry. An introduction to the 

study of Vegetable Histology. By Prof. V. A. Pouxsen. Translated by 
William Trelease. 1 vol. 12mo. Cloth, §1.00. 






VITE shai! issue in a few days an elegantly illustrated '"Manual of American Sea 
Mosses," prepared by Rev. A. B. Hervey. It is just such a work as has long 
been needed and much called for: a handy, convenient book for sea-side use. 
Nothing of the kind has been published in this country; Harvey's great work, com- 
pleted 23 years ago, in three ponderous quartos, being too expensive and too cum- 
bersome for general and popular use. 

It is a complete Collector's Guide, giving practical information as to the best times, 
places and methods of collecti-.g the necessary apparatus, and the details of float- 
ing out, pressing, drying, preserving, and mounting these beautiful plants. Full 
directions are also given of the best methods of studying and identifying these jjants. 
Full "'keys" ar<_ given, at the head of each group, by which the most inexperienced 
may be easily guided to the genus to which the plant he is studying belongs. 

While in the description of species the method of treatment is popular, and 
especially adapted to the need of amateur botanists and sea-side collectors, all the state- 
ments are made with scientific accuracy and carefulness. All the common species 
belonging to the three great groups of Green. O'ive Col red and Red Algae, are taken 
up in order, and so described in detail, that it is believed they may be easily identified 
whenever found. The book is thus made a complete guide to all the common and 
beautiful forms of our Atlantic flora, r.orth of the Carclinas. including nearly all the 
characterist : c forms of the Pacific coast, for California, Oregon and the North. 

The plates, twenty in number, are drawn and colored from nature, and represent 
twcntv-four of the most interesting, beautiful and characteristic species, in not less 
than nineteen genera. 

The work is issued in eletram binding, 12 mo., over 300 pages, and is printed on fine, 
heavy paper, with 20 ful'-paged colored plates. Price, postpaid, $2.00. 

r £3£ a 'For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, on receipt 
of price, by the publisher. 

S. E. CASS1NO & CO., Publishers, 

41 Arch Street, Boston, P>/Iass. 


Handbook of Invertebrate Zoology, 

For Laboratories and Seaside Work. By Prof. TV. K. Brooks, Ph. 
D., Director Chesapeake Zoological Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins 
University. Price, $3.00 

This work is published in one large 8vo volume of 400 pages. Illustrated 

with 200 entirely new cuts, from drawings by the author, or made under his 

direct supervision. 

Handbook of Entomology. 

By Prof. Charles V. Riley, U. S. Entomologist, Chief of Entomological 
Commission, State Entomologist of Mo., etc., etc. In press. Cloth. 8vo. 

Price, $3.00 

International Scientists 9 Directory. 

Containing the Names, Special Departments of Science, etc., etc., of 
Amateur and Professional Naturalists, Chemists, Physicists, Astrono- 
mers, etc., etc., in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceanica. Ready 
Jan., 1883. 12mo. Price, paper, $2.00 ; cloth, $2.50 

Sea Mosses. 

By Rev. A. B. Heevey. New edition. 20 Colored Plates. 12mo. Price, $2.00 

Check list of Coleoptera. 

Check List of Coleoptera of America, North of Mexico. By G. R. Crotch, 
M. A. 8vo. New edition, Avith supplement. Price, $ 1.25. 

MinoVs Birds of Neiv England. 

Land Birds and Game Birds of New England, with descriptions of Birds, 
their Nests and Eggs, their Habits and Mates. By H. D. Minot, Illus- 
trated by outline cuts. 456 pages. 8vo. Cloth. Price, $3.00 

Ferns of Nor*th America. 

Text by Prof. Daniel C. Eaton, of Yale College. Illustrations by Messrs. 
J. H. Emerton and Charles E. Faxon. Complete in two volumes. Large 
4to. Cloth, gilt top. Price $30.00 

Life on the Sea-Shore ; 

or. Animals of Our Coasts and Bays. "With illustrations and descrip- 
tions by James H. Emerton. 12mo. Cloth. Price, $1.50 

Primative Industry ; 

Or, Illustrations of the Handiwork in Stone, Bone and Clay, of 
the Native Races of the Northern Atlantic Sea-Board. By 
Charles C Abbott, M. D. 560 pages. 8vo. 429 cuts. Price, $3.00 

How to Mount Birds and Animals; 

Or, the Taxidermist's Guide. By C. J. Maynard. 12mo. Cloth. 
Illustrated. Price, $1.50 

This is an entirely new work, just issued, and should be in the hands of 
all who are interested in our birds and animals. With its aid the tyro can 
soon prepare skins in as good shape as the most experienced taxidermist. 

Any book mentioned sent by mail on receipt of price. Books imported from 
all European centres at lowest rates. 


41 Arch Street, Boston, Mass. 




b-y "w. :k- brooks, 

Associate Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, and 

Director of the 3Iarine Laboratory 01 The Johns Hopkins 

Uniyersity : formerly Assistant in the Boston Society 

of Natural History. 

The book contains directions for studying the general anatomy, the micro- 
scopic structure, and the development of selected types of animal life: and it 
also describes the method of collecting and preserving the fcims which are de- 
scribed. The following are some ot the subjects treated : 

The structure of Yorticellae, 

The reproduction of Vorticellse, 
The structure of a Sponge, 

The structure and growth of a Campanularian Hvdroid, 

The structure and development of a Hydro-Medusa, 
The general anatomy of a Starfish, 

The microscopic anatomy of a Starfish. 

The general anatomy of a Sea Urchin, 
The embrvology and metamorphosis of the Sea Urchin and Starfish, 
The general anatomy of the Earthworm, 

The microscopic structure of the Earthworm, 
The anatomy of the Leech, 

The anatomy of a Crab. 

The metamorphosis of a Crab, 

The structure and development of Cyclops, anatomy of a Grasshopper, 

The general anatomy of Unio, 

The microscopic anatomy of Unio, 

The embryology and metamorphosis of Unio, 

The anatomy and embryology of the Squid. 

Illustrated by nearly two hundred cuts from the author's draw- 
ings, or from drawings made from nature under his direction. 

S. E. CASSINO & CO., Publishers, 

41 Arch Street, Boston, Mass. 


^~~~7~~?r~<~*~" : — ~"7\~~^\ 

We keep constantly on hand an assortment of Instruments used by Natural- 
ists, such as 



Scalpels, Ebony Handle S .75 

Bird-Stuffing Forceps, 75, 1.25, 1.75, 2.00, 2.25, 2.75 

According to length. 

Scissors, Straight .75, 1.00 

Scissors, Curved 1.25, 1.37, l.cO 

Egg Drills 25 to 1.50 

Syringes . 4.00 to 25.00 

Egg Blowers, Nickeled 50 


Prof. Marks' Case Instruments S6.00 

Prof. Wilder' s Case Instruments 10.00 


Publishers of Scientific Works. 


41 Arch Street, Boston.