Lucky number seven bird to taxidermy was a African Ringneck Parakeet (Psittacula krameri krameri). These Parakeets are native to Africa and can be found throughout the southern end of Gambia to the eastern end of Ethiopia. They are present across the continent and can be seen in small flocks ranging between 20-50 birds. They are excellent talkers and have an average lifespan of 20-28 years.
Did you know these parrots are sexually dimorphic, which means the males and females can be easily differentiated from each other. The males develop a black ring and the females do not. Most African Ringnecks will obtain their ring around 18 months, but it can take up to three years before a ring develops. The females have a slightly lighter green ring, which are often a few shades lighter in comparison to the green throughout their body. This Parakeet I taxidermied is a female since it doesn’t have a black ring around its neck.
I think I’ll name her Eyelash. Why? She was the freshest and most well-preserved specimen I’ve yet to work on! You could see the orange color ring of her eye and her teeny tiny eyelashes on her eyelids were in perfect shape. It was almost creepy to have Eyelash looking like she was still alive as I was about to cut into her. While she had pretty eyes, she wasn’t well feathered. Her wings had been clipped and she had pin feathers in spots. This was my first time seeing pin feathers on a bird I’ve taxidermied. Now I know what they look like and understand why Taxidermist complain about them. But I’m happy to immortalize Eyelash, pin feathers or no pin feathers!
She also had a metal band around her leg which I chose to remove to set her free of any human labeling. I’m not sure why Eyelash had one of these bands, there are many reasons why a bird may have a leg band. Next time I talk to Frank, the owner of Magnolia Bird Farm where I got her, I will ask him about the leg band.
The taxidermy went smoothly on this bird. My teacher, Allis from Prey Taxidermy showed me a trick to use on parrots to invert the head. It’s usually difficult to get the neck to fit over the big head and beak of parrot anatomy compared to most other birds. I’d been making an incision the whole way from the beak down to the cloaca in my past birds. Allis’s technique makes two separate incisions; one for the body and one tiny one underneath the beak for its head. I tried it for the first time on this bird. It worked and helped to keep the anatomy correct when sewing her back up.
I also made a change to my wrapped bird body. I’d realized I’d been making the mistake of creating wide shoulders and no belly. I corrected this by making narrow shoulders and a big belly. The birds shape looks much better with the improved body shape. I used 7mm orange glass eyes, the natural color for this Parakeet. (I have this thing for aqua eyes or two different colored eyes but I resisted this time.)
When Eyelash was all dry I mounted her on a golden horseshoe to give her good fortune in the afterlife.