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Purchased from the
ALICE E. KENNINGTON
RARE BOOK FUND
MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY
® Complete ffiufoe
IN COLLECTING AND PRESERVING
BIRDS AND MAMMALS
BY C. J. MAYNARD
S. E. CASSINO AND COMPANY
BY S. E. CASS 1X0 & CO.
BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY,
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
IV MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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
VI MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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
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
Vlll MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
X MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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.
C. J. MAYNARD.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Explanation of Plates
Part I. — Birds.
Chapter I. — Collecting . . ... . I
Section I. Trapping, etc. Section II. Shooting.
Section III. Procuring Birds. Section IV. Care
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
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.
Xll MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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-
LIST AND EXPLANATION OF PLATES.
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
XIV MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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.
LIST OF PLATES. XV
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
XVI MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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.
MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
PART L — BIRDS.
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.
2 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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
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-
4 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
6 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
8 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
10 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
COLLECTING. 1 1
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
12 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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.
COLLECTING. 1 3
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.
14 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
COLLECTING. 1 5
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
1 6 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
COLLECTING. 1 7
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
1 8 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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-
COLLECTING. 1 9
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
20 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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-
22 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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
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
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
26 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
28 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
30 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
COLLECTING. 3 1
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
32 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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
34 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
SKINNING BIRDS. 35
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
36 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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,
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
38 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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,
SKINNING BIRDS. 39
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-
40 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
SKINNING BIRDS. 41
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
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
MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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
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
44 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
SKINNING BIRDS. 45
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,
46 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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,
SKINNING BIRDS. 47
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
48 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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-
50 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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-
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
MAKING SKINS. 51
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
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
52 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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,
MAKING SKINS. 53
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
MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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.)
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
MAKING SKINS. 55
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
56 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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-
MAKING SKINS. 57
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
58 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
MAKING SKINS. 59
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
60 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
MAKING SKINS. 6l
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
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
MAKING SKINS. 63
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
MOUNTING BIRDS. 6$
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.
MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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
68 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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
70 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
MOUNTING BIRDS. *J\
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
J2 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
74 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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-
MOUNTING BIRDS. 75
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
j6 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
MOUNTING BIRDS. 77
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
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
yS MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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.
MOUNTING BIRDS. 79
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
80 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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.
82 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
MAKING STANDS. 83
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.
PART II. — MAMMALS, REPTILES, ETC.
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
COLLECTING MAMMALS. 85
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.
MAKING SKINS OF MAMMALS.
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
MAKING SKINS OF MAMMALS. 87
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
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,
88 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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.
MAKING SKINS OF MAMMALS.
Root of Tail.
Outstretched Hind Leg.
End of Vertebra.
End of Hair.
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.
MOUNTING MAMMALS. 9 1
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
92 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
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).
MOUNTING MAMMALS. 93
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;
94 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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
MOUNTING MAMMALS. 95
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
g6 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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.
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
98 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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,
MOUNTING REPTILES, ETC. 99
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
IOO MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
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-
MOUNTING REPTILES, ETC. IOI
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.
American warblers 14
Ammunition for repeating guns 10
Ampelidae . 15
Arsenic a dangerous poison 49
Ascertaining the sex of birds 43
Basket for collecting birds 29
Bird lime 6
Breech-loading guns 8
Burrowing owl, Newbury.port, Mass 27
Cabinets . 59
Caprimulgidse . .17
MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
Care of skins .
Care of specimens
Catching wounded birds
Crested birds — mounting
Cuts of the skull
Dermal preservative ....
Dried skins, mounting
. . 78
Drying forms .....
Eagle as decoy ........ 6
Ever-ready bird-trap 3
Exceptions to the usual method of skinning . . . 39
Finches . . . . - . . .16
Form for measurements of mammals . . . .89
Frigate birds . 25
Game pieces 79
Geese . 24
Goatsuckers . . 17
Graculidae ......... 75
Grebes . .26
Grosbeaks . .16
Hawk as decoy ........ 5
MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
Herons' skins • . .24
Humming birds 18
Ibis' skins . . . 56
Instruments for mounting ...... 64
Killing wounded birds 30
Label, sample ....
Large birds, mounting .
Large mammals, mounting
Large mammals' skins .
Making over old skins 61
Making skins of long-necked birds
Making skins of mammals
Making skins of small birds .
Maynard's dermal preservative
Measurements of birds recorded
Mounting dried skins, birds
Mounting dried skins, mammals
Mounting fishes ....
Mounting fresh specimens, birds
Mounting fresh specimens, mammals
Mounting lizards, alligators, etc.
Mounting mammals without any bones
Mounting with wings spread .
Mounting reptiles, batrachians, and fishes
Naturalists' guide 44
Old skins, making over 61
Other methods of preparing skins 47
Ordinary method of skinning birds . . . .43
Owl as decoy . . . . . . , . . . 5
108 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
Panel work 70
Part I . . .1
Part II 84
Petrels . . . 26
Plain stands . . . . . • . .81
Plugging mouths of birds . • 33
Preserving skins 44
Prices for mounting birds 79
Procellaridae . 26
Procuring birds .11
Puffins . .26
Repeating collecting gun 9
Sample label for birds
Sex of birds
Shot for 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
110 MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.
Sylvidae ■ 13
Tanagers . . . . • . . . . -15
Terns . . . . . . . . . , . 26
Trapping birds . . 1
Tropic birds 25
True larks 14
True warblers 13
Tyrannidae . 17
Warblers, American 14
Warblers, true % 13
Waxwings . . 15
Wings spread, mounting 76
Wrens . . . . 13
Wrentits . 13
G J. MAYNARD & CO.,
No. 9 Pemberton Square,
Birds' Eggs, Nests, Skins, &c, &c.
We make a Specialty of NATURALISTS' and
TAXIDERMISTS' SUPPLIES, such as Instru-
ments for Egg-Blowing, Skinning, Mounting,
ARTIFICIAL EYES, LEAVES,
and in fact all Supplies needed by the Collector
Send for Catalogue, addressing as above.
lObb.HLlUfSJ St CO,
-m > PMeywQii; < m~
We carry the most complete assortment that can be obtained.
HUMMERS TO EAGLES,
MICE TO ELEPHANTS,
MONKEYS TO MEN,
SEND FOR DETAIL CATALOGUE.
INDIAN ARROW HEADS.
The Best, Most Perfect, Smallest and Nieer.t
Colored Arrow Points in
FOR SALE IN LOTS TO SUIT.
A Fine, Perfect Point, sent registered, on receipt of $1.00.
f. lve. gilham,
241 Battery Street, San Francisco, Cal.
NEW BOOKS FOR NATURALISTS.
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.
S. E. CASSINO & CO., PUBLISHERS,
BOSTON, 31 ASS.
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.
IMPORTANT BOOKS FOR THE NATURALIST.
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
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.
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
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.
S. E. OASSINO & CO., PUBLISHERS,
41 Arch Street, Boston, Mass.
FOR LABORATORIES AND SEASIDE STUDY,
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,
T.ie 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, BIRD-STUFFING FORCEPS, SCISSORS (curved and straight
EGG BLOWERS, EGG DRILLS, INSECT PINS,
INSECT PIN FORCEPS, &c.
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
S. E. CASSINO & CO.
Publishers of Scientific Works.
41 Arch Street, Boston.