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Author Topic: Dead Bird...  (Read 8924 times)
Mandi
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« Topic Start: June 24, 2007, 10:54:35 am »

This morning we had the "luck" of finding a dead cardinal.   Sad

I am contemplating if I have it in me to take it apart.  Yup, that's right, you heard it here first.  I am contemplating taking it apart.   Correction, I am GOING TO take it apart, as soon as I get it together to do it.  It would be a pathetic waste not to.

It's a female cardinal, and I think it either ran into the house, or Huh  One wing is already partially flayed exposing some dried muscle and little bits of fat.  She is still supple though, and has a nice red tail, brown body and wings.  She is still very downy on her back, so she may have just blown it on a trial flight.

I have been looking at the pretty little birds while riding for the last few months going gee, I could make something cool with wings...

and now I feel like I have to follow through, because I sort of in a round about way asked for this, and the unknown has obliged and dropped a cardinal, on my doorstep.  Literally, it was on the apron to my garage when I got back from getting a soda this morning.  so now I'm like urp.  I have to take this thing apart.

It was still warm when I picked it up, but it might have been dead longer than I think since it's so hot here that everything you pick up off the ground is warm.  Especially since there is a bit of drying already happened to the muscles.

So where to begin? 
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir

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« Reply #1: June 24, 2007, 12:34:49 pm »

So where to begin?

Maybe you could find something on the net about taxidermy?  There might not be anything specific to cardinals, but I'm sure there would be stuff about birds in general.

I know you're not planning to stuff and mount it, but I'm sure there would be info about drying rates, sterilizing, gutting, de-miting, all that good stuff.  If you're going to be working on it in your home these might be good things to know about.

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« Reply #2: June 24, 2007, 12:36:33 pm »

This morning we had the "luck" of finding a dead cardinal.   Sad

I am contemplating if I have it in me to take it apart. 

Someone is bound to know about chemical treatments and that may be what you're really wanting, but I'm ignorant on those methods.

What I know about is how we handled such situations in a Nature Center I once worked at.  Here's my limited insight:

I would put him in the yard--on top of the soil so the lovely shell of the bird makes contact with all of the nice Mother Earth bacteria and bugs.  Cover her with a board or pot and put some rocks or other weight on top to (hopefully) keep animals from stealing her.

After a couple of weeks or couple of months (in your climate it will probably happen pretty quickly) the Earth will have taken away everything that's yucky--leaving bones and feathers for you to harvest.  (I'd still seal them in a zip lock bag for a couple more weeks to be sure there are no lice or other diners left before I'd let the feathers and bones loose in the house.)

If you want him left whole, I think taxidermy is the way to go. As I said above, others will have more info on that technique, but I'm pretty sure it involves opening her belly and gutting her, then stuffing her with sawdust and some chemicals before stitching her back up.

When we found a dead critter that we wanted to mount (send to a professional taxidermist) we'd seal the corpse in plastic and pop it in the freezer until we took it to the taxidermist. 

I have been told, however, that taxidermy is actually a pretty easy art.  Maybe you're on the threshold of a new hobby!  (Although my Mother would have said, "Mandi, it isn't nice to play with dead things!") Grin
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« Reply #3: June 24, 2007, 01:05:16 pm »



So where to begin? 

Well, not to rain on your parade, but the first thing I'd do is have it tested for West Nile Virus.
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« Reply #4: June 24, 2007, 01:31:01 pm »

Someone is bound to know about chemical treatments and that may be what you're really wanting, but I'm ignorant on those methods.

What I know about is how we handled such situations in a Nature Center I once worked at.  Here's my limited insight:

I would put him in the yard--on top of the soil so the lovely shell of the bird makes contact with all of the nice Mother Earth bacteria and bugs.  Cover her with a board or pot and put some rocks or other weight on top to (hopefully) keep animals from stealing her.

After a couple of weeks or couple of months (in your climate it will probably happen pretty quickly) the Earth will have taken away everything that's yucky--leaving bones and feathers for you to harvest.  (I'd still seal them in a zip lock bag for a couple more weeks to be sure there are no lice or other diners left before I'd let the feathers and bones loose in the house.)

If you want him left whole, I think taxidermy is the way to go. As I said above, others will have more info on that technique, but I'm pretty sure it involves opening her belly and gutting her, then stuffing her with sawdust and some chemicals before stitching her back up.


The earth method will more than likely create a smelly bacteria laden mess. As far as the taxidermy method. The bird is mostly skinned. In a mammal mount, there are generally no muscles or tissues left. I've helped with a deer, and in that case, the skin is removed, cured, and stretched over a foam or plastic form.

For Mandi, and anyone else interested (warning, graphic) here is a link to step by step bird mounting instructions.
http://www.instructables.com/id/ESUNNN2HDHEWH1IINV/

And here is a link for a small bird mounting kit, chemicals included:
http://www.taxidermy.com/cat/01/birdmount.html
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Mandi
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« Reply #5: June 24, 2007, 01:34:45 pm »

Well, not to rain on your parade, but the first thing I'd do is have it tested for West Nile Virus.

true true...  I wonder if there's a report on local incedances anywhere...  goes off to look...
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #6: June 24, 2007, 01:36:33 pm »

true true...  I wonder if there's a report on local incedances anywhere...  goes off to look...

You're in the Austin area so, unfortunately, I suspect there will be.
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Mandi
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« Reply #7: June 24, 2007, 01:54:43 pm »

The earth method will more than likely create a smelly bacteria laden mess. As far as the taxidermy method. The bird is mostly skinned. In a mammal mount, there are generally no muscles or tissues left. I've helped with a deer, and in that case, the skin is removed, cured, and stretched over a foam or plastic form.

For Mandi, and anyone else interested (warning, graphic) here is a link to step by step bird mounting instructions.
http://www.instructables.com/id/ESUNNN2HDHEWH1IINV/

And here is a link for a small bird mounting kit, chemicals included:
http://www.taxidermy.com/cat/01/birdmount.html

The parts I'm the most interested in are the wings.  I'm thinking about perhaps drying them, and then burying the rest to decompose, and remembering where and revisiting in a year or so.  The guts portion was what actually had me concerned, so I'm happy to see the wings can be had without having to go for the gu(t)sto so to speak.

Thanks!
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
Mandi
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« Reply #8: June 24, 2007, 01:55:36 pm »

You're in the Austin area so, unfortunately, I suspect there will be.

Not finding much online but I did find a phone number. 
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #9: June 24, 2007, 02:47:49 pm »

The parts I'm the most interested in are the wings.  I'm thinking about perhaps drying them,

Cut the wings off and take a hefty amount of sea salt and a glass or plastic container. First, take water and dissolve as much salt in it as the water can take and then some more. Put the wings into the water and see to it that they are completely covered.

Several days later, take the wings off of the water, pat them dry and spread them out on a bed of sea salt, covering them completely with more salt. Leave the wings to dry, possibly changing some of the salt in between (if it gets hard), until the wings are practically scentless. The salt dries the meat out completely and keeps the bacteria off.

That's pretty much how I've preserved bird wings.
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Mandi
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« Reply #10: June 24, 2007, 05:02:34 pm »

Cut the wings off and take a hefty amount of sea salt and a glass or plastic container. First, take water and dissolve as much salt in it as the water can take and then some more. Put the wings into the water and see to it that they are completely covered.

Several days later, take the wings off of the water, pat them dry and spread them out on a bed of sea salt, covering them completely with more salt. Leave the wings to dry, possibly changing some of the salt in between (if it gets hard), until the wings are practically scentless. The salt dries the meat out completely and keeps the bacteria off.

That's pretty much how I've preserved bird wings.

I'm having a beer and steeling myself to the actual cutting off portion.  I was thinking salt, but I wasn't sure.  I would have just put them on the salt though.  Soaking first then.  I can do that.   Smiley

On the fear of disease, I do have a mask, and will be exceedingly cautious not to inhale directly, wash hands with hot soapy and all that good stuff.  Also have to keep the kids miles and miles away because that's just something I can do without them remembering for the rest of their lives - along with them being more likely than I to get too close, or do an accidental hand/ face that could be very bad.

:deep breaths...: 

Who'da thunk I'd be the one to get squeamish!  lol
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #11: June 24, 2007, 08:05:39 pm »

Who'da thunk I'd be the one to get squeamish!  lol

Look at it this way: if you can stomach cutting up a, say, turkey for dinner and stuffing it - you can stomach this. Smiley
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Mandi
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« Reply #12: June 25, 2007, 08:14:41 am »

Look at it this way: if you can stomach cutting up a, say, turkey for dinner and stuffing it - you can stomach this. Smiley

Once I got going it was all good.  Thank the gawds above and below for sharp garden shears! 

I think having the kids around earlier when we first found the bird created the worry in the first place.  They are both well accustomed to the "oh that's sad" song and dance whenever something is dead.  Then they mistook my going online for somehow looking for a way to bring the bird back to life.  So they got happy.

Raising the dead is a tall order.  Making an altar broom on the other hand is a more likely possibility.
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #13: June 25, 2007, 01:33:20 pm »

Raising the dead is a tall order.

You mean to tell us you haven't quite figured out how to do this yet?  Shocked

Quote
Making an altar broom on the other hand is a more likely possibility.

Sounds interesting. Is this what you wanted the wings for? Will you be sharing pix when you've accomplished what you've set out to do?
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Mandi
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« Reply #14: June 25, 2007, 01:40:19 pm »

You mean to tell us you haven't quite figured out how to do this yet?  Shocked

Sounds interesting. Is this what you wanted the wings for? Will you be sharing pix when you've accomplished what you've set out to do?

I think, yeah.  :nod nod:  I haven't figured out the specifics of mounting yet, and what they'll be mounted on even - I want to go with something a little more meaningful than a random dowel.  I also want to wrap partially with leather around whatever the handle is made of...

Altar broom/ wafting things fan, I think they will be great for directing incense etc.

They still have a couple days in the brine and another however long it takes on the salt bed before I can really get directed about them.  But pics will be forthcoming. 
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir

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