Recreating Animals with Lifelike Effect
The term ‘taxidermy’ is used to describe the process of recreating a lifelike representation of an animal for display purposes. These are often stuffed animals or birds, available often on eBay.
Taxidermy is derived from the Greek derma, which, much like the term epidermis relates to the external layer of the skin. Since the methods of taxidermy involve the removal of skin from an animal’s body, later transferring that skin to recreate an accurately crafted replica of the animal’s body, the term fits well.
Considered an art form, taxidermy involves preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins, including the fur, feathers or scales, over an armature; however, in some cases, the mount may be recreated using man-made materials.
Taxidermy recreated using entirely man-made materials do not contain the skin or any other element of the animal.
Quality photographs, along with accurate measurements, and sometimes moulds, are all that is needed to recreate a mount.
A person who practices taxidermy is known as a ‘taxidermist’, and is skilled at the following crafts:
Whilst some people require the services of a taxidermist to preserve their quarry as a hunting trophy, others use taxidermy to preserve animals for educational or historical purposes.
In some cases, taxidermy is used so that an endangered species can at least be preserved. It is also used when a creature is unique to its species. For example, if the creature is the largest, smallest, or oldest of its kind.
The History of Taxidermy
For thousands of years, man has hunted and saved his kill as trophies. Although there is no clear record of when taxidermy began, we know that the Egyptians mummified their cats, dogs, and other animals at their time of death, which is considered to be a form of taxidermy. These mummified animals have been found alongside what is believed to be the bodies of their owners.
As methods of taxidermy have improved, so has its popularity. During the Middle Ages, birds were often stuffed, albeit with strange materials at times, as trophies following falconry and other types of hunting.
The first book on the subject of taxidermy was produced in 1555 by Pierre Belon, a naturalist. Many other books were written in the 1600s, and methods have changed considerably since they were written.
During the Victorian era, taxidermy became increasingly popular. As prosperous people went on their travels, they wanted a memento of where they had been. This gave taxidermists a significant amount of business.
Although no longer as popular as they were during the Victorian era, the art of taxidermy is still highly valued and appreciated. Many people still enjoy hanging mounts as displays in their homes, or viewing them in museums.
Bird Taxidermy - Methods
- The first step in the process of recreating a bird is to skin the animal. During this process, all meat and bones are removed from the animal, with only the feet and talons being kept in place.
- Once the bird has been skinned, the skin and feathers are washed in warm water using normal dish washing detergent which cleans and de-greases.
- The skins and feathers of the bird are then towel dried
- They are further dried using a hair dryer, which fluffs the feathers up.
- Any remaining moisture is soaked up using a salt preservative.
- The bird is then turned inside out, and the head cavity is filled with non-shrinking hard clay.
- The bird’s neck and body are sculpted using polyurethane foam.
- Once this step is completed, the main body is put to one side, and wires are then inserted in place of the wing, leg, and tail bones.
- Wire is inserted under the skin of the wings of the bird, which is then tied off with dental floss. The same is carried out for the bird’s legs and tail.
- The bird’s skin, as well as its legs, wings, and tail are taut from the wire which was previously inserted.
- Next, the foam body and neck are then inserted, with the wires from the legs, wings, and tail being pushed into the body until firm.
- The moulded neck is then stuck into the clay area of the head.
- Finally, one of the last steps is to sew up the bird around the body mould, using dental floss or carpet thread.
- Once this has been done, the bird has glass eyes inserted into the clay sockets. The bird is now ready to be shaped and mounted.
Caring for Bird Taxidermy
It goes without saying that hours of time and effort go into recreating bird taxidermy; therefore, there are a few things you should keep in mind when caring for a stuffed bird.
- Placement – Ideally, your stuffed bird mount should be placed under low light, and out of reach of children, and animals. Avoid:
- direct sunlight
- fluorescent lighting
- air ducts
Bright light exposure will fade your mount’s feathers.
- Cleaning – You should clean your bird mount once a month, using a feather duster. You should always brush towards the tail end of the bird.
- Monitoring– You should inspect for insect damage regularly during late spring and summer months. Insects such as silverfish and moth larvae can destroy feathers quickly. If you detect an insect problem, you should place the bird inside a plastic bag and then freeze it for several weeks. You should then let it thaw so that any remaining eggs hatch, and then freeze it again for another couple of weeks.
Antique bird taxidermy mounts are:
- best kept under glass
- may contain toxic materials
- should be handled and dusted whilst wearing a dust mask and gloves
With any kind of mounted animal, it is important to determine whether it contains arsenic. The older the mount, the more likely it is that arsenic compounds which were applied to the inside of the skin during preparation have migrated to the outside of the skin.
Before attempting to clean the mount, you should inspect the bases of the feathers, as well as the skin surfaces around the beak and glass eyes for a white microcrystalline substance.
It is also possible that mercuric compounds, or compounds of mercury, have also been used on some bird taxidermy. Both arsenic and mercuric compounds were used as general biocides during the preparation stage to limit the amount of pest damage; however, they constitute health risks today. If they are present in your bird taxidermy, you must take steps to protect yourself: a fume hood, gloves, and a respirator should all be used during the cleaning process.
Why Choose eBay for Bird Taxidermy?
EBay is a popular place for users to purchase Bird Taxidermy, mainly due to the diverse selection of birds available on the site, and low prices not found elsewhere.
How to Search for Bird Taxidermy on eBay
Now that you’ve found out about the art of Bird taxidermy, you can now begin your search on eBay. To start your search, go to the All Categories link on the homepage of eBay. Click Collectables,, select Animals,, and then click Taxidermy under Item Type.
Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find vintage Bird Taxidermy, type the keywords "vintage bird taxidermy" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click, "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips ppage for more tips on searching with keywords.
If you can't find exactly what you want, try browsing eBay Stores or tell the eBay Community what you’re looking for by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a matching item becomes available.
Buy Bird Taxidermy on eBay with Confidence
Make sure that you know exactly what you’re buying and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.
Know Your Item
Read the details in the item listing carefully.
Remember to add delivery costs to your final price. If you’re buying a high value item, check that the seller will insure it until it is delivered to you.
If you want more information, click the “Ask seller a question” button on the seller’s profile or the “Ask a question” link at the bottom of the item listing page.
Always complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy it Now or Best Offer) otherwise you will not be covered by eBay Buyer Protection.
Never pay for your eBay item using an instant cash wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram. These are not safe ways of paying someone you do not know.
Know Your Seller
Research your seller so that you feel safe and positive about every transaction.
- What is the seller’s Feedback rating?
- How many transactions have they completed?
- How many positive responses do they have?
- What do buyers say in their Feedback?
- Are they positive about the seller?
Most top eBay sellers operate like retail shops and have a returns policy.
- Do they offer a money-back guarantee?
- What are their terms and conditions?
In the very unlikely event that you do not receive your item or it is not as described, eBay Buyer Protection covers your purchase price plus original delivery cost.