Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

How to Identify the Sex of A Bird For Taxidermy

Identifying the sex of a bird can be both easy and difficult – this greatly depends on the species of the bird which you have just caught. The best way of doing this is to have guide or handbook ready that contains illustrations which will let you identify the species. As a side note, you should find out whether the animal is an adult or a youth. But the next most important classification is to discover if the bird is a male or female. If you’re looking at a mammal then this is easy to identify. But for birds how should this be done?

It is easy to tell the difference between some species such as pheasants because the males and females look completely different. The plumages and sizes will be of vastly different colors. So to identify the differences you simple need a photo or illustration to tell the sex of the bird. See the photos below for a comparison.

male pheasant

Male Pheasant © by chapmankj75

female pheasant

female pheasant © by peter_roberts

But with other birds such as blue tits, the male and female can appear to be almost exactly the same. This is also true of young birds which has not yet fully matured and developed their own sex specific plumage. See the photos below for comparison.

Blue Tit 1

Blue Tit 1 © by Dave-F

blue tit 2

Blue Tit © by Duncan Brown (Cradlehall)

So what should one do when they come across a bird such as a blue tit in which the males and females appear very similar?

Whilst this may not be a pleasant thing to do, you have to identify the testicles or ovaries if you are to discover the sex of a bird. The location of these is almost always in the belly near the small of the back. To add further complications to the problem, the sex organs can change in size depending on the period of the year. During the breeding seasons these can be very easy to identify but during the winter months, such organs may require magnification for them to be discovered.

For the purposes of taxidermy, the correct solution to these problems requires a minor surgery of the bird. Take a pair of sharp and strong scissors or a scalpel. Use these tools to cut through the lower ribs of the bird towards the anus. Once the cut has been made use the scalpel to move the intestines towards one side so that the sex organs can be seen – these should be in front of the kidneys. Both the male and female sex organs are connected to the bowels of the bird via a white colored string like tube. Look out for this so that the sex organs are not confused with the kidneys which can also sometimes appear as white shaped balls.

To identify the male bird testicles, look for two small white and sphereical shaped balls next to each other. To identify the female look for two small white irregular shaped balls which are usually flat – these are the ovaries. Understanding the difference between these two is the key to determining the sex of a bird.

Found this useful? When you buy Taxidermy Made Easy I’ll also provide you with a free bird bible which contains hundreds of illustrations that help you to identify the sexes on a vast variety of different birds. Click here to check it out.

Inserting Glass Eyes into Birds

inserting taxidermy eyes

inserting taxidermy eyes

This article will discuss the use of artificial eyes in birds for the purposes of taxidermy. This is not something that should be done until the later stages of creating a bird. Also, this should be done well after the bird has been fleshed and dried because otherwise it could easily damage the birds feathers.

When doing this with a dried bird, try to maintain the roundness of the eyelids and then carefully take a piece of cotton. This should only be a small piece of this cotton and it should be placed into each eyelid and used to fill in behind eye but not totally. You may wish to use a metal tool to help force this through.

The reason the cotton is used to partially fill the hole is because you should now take a piece of wet cotton and place into the eyelid. This can then be left for 20-30 minutes and once you have returned you should find that the eyelids have greatly softened and are not malleable. This means they are ready for shaping. The wet cotton can then be removed.

Next, measure the length of the eyelid. Next take an eye from your glass eye collection which matches that length, the colours of which will usually be brown. It is useful for a taxidermist to have purchased a collection of eyes so that they can mix and match the correct sizes. To get the correct color refer to the details of the specimens records which should have been made when you first caught or bought the animal.

When choosing the correct eye to match the measurements taken of the eyelids, you should choose an eye which is slightly larger than the measurement of the eyelid. This is because the glass eye will be placed behind the eyelid and therefore need to be of a larger size for them to fit in the socket.

Once the eye has been placed in to the correct position, use a small piece of glue or putty to hold the eye. The putty should be of the type that can be molded so it can be placed into any remaining gaps to hold the eye into place.

To do this, first make sure the eyelid has been wetted and is therefore easy to move as mentioned before. With the glass eyes now in position take some tweezers and place small pieces of the putty into the eyelids. This should be done until all the gaps have been filled in. Then take a needle and use this to push the eyelid back so that the eye fully emerges and also use the needle to remove and pieces of putty present. The last step is to simply clean and tidy up any of the remaining dirt around the eye.

If you found this article useful then check out Taxidermy Made Easy which goes into more detail on topics such as inserting glass eyes into birds.