Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Taxing" Weather

Well the weather over the past week or two has been poor at best for flying falcons.  When we did have good weather Oz has flown poorly, for which there is no reward.  The next few weeks we will be mixing up kiting and hawking and some days maybe both together to get her off the lazy train and back into form.  I really can't blame her for wanting to do the bare minimum to catch her prey.  I mean, there are ducks and she can see them right there on the pond and she knows that she can catch them anytime she wants.  Except when they are on the water.  The only hang up for her is "when will that tall skinny guy go in and flush?"  And therein lies the standoff between falcon and falconer.

A couple of weeks ago she caught a drake Wigeon, and in the process did very little damage to the outside of it.  A perfect candidate for a taxidermy mount.  Since the weather hasn't allowed for falcon flying, I started this project yesterday as a Christmas present for my brother.

I'm self taught at doing taxidermy and am not a taxidermist.  I've seen a lot of birds my life and have a hint of artistic ability and that seems to be just enough to do a pretty decent job at these.  One thing that I have learned is that using artificial heads makes the job of mounting a bird leaps and bounds easier.

Thawed duck and artificial head painted sculpted and ready to go.  Far easier than cleaning out the skull, packing it with clay and trying to get the eyes just right.  Much sturdier bill as well for the long run

This might be the longest part.  Separating the feathers down the keel bone on a duck is a time consuming task.

Main body out, but still needs the fat taken out.

Wrung out duck after a couple of Dawn soap baths.  Not the prettiest step...

Fake head installed.  Wings and feet wired.  

Nearly finished product.  Still needs pinned and some feathers moved around.

And yes, the counter almost always looks like that.  Between me and my wife we always have a million projects in the works with several dozen waiting in the wings.


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