Finding ethically sourced birds for Taxidermy is quite the task. Since I began scouting for specimens around 8 months ago, I’ve sent out over 500 emails to avian breeders, vets, etc. looking for any unfortunate casualties that have died naturally. I have been successful about 3% of the time.
I understand people. Death and Taxidermy is morbid to some, the effort in shipping frozen specimens is less than enjoyable and sometimes FWS laws can make it scary for you. But I promise you, us Taxidermists are kind people and animal lovers too.
Through my efforts I’ve acquired many species through wonderful people with open minds about the skilled craft of Taxidermy who were willing to help out. Many of whom, I’ve had the pleasure to learn from and keep as a contact for future specimens.
It was one recent evening it happened a kind lady contacted me who owns a ranch in Santa Clarita, Ca. What? She found me?! This has NEVER happened.
Irine found me through my Etsy shop, Blinking Eyes. I was happily shocked by this event. I learned talking on the phone to her, that she raises many different animals on her ranch. These included piglets, Emus and Silkie Showgirls to name a few. Have you seen a Silkie Showgirl chicken before? Wild, just plain wow! She got to telling me about 2 Emu chicks she recently lost at day 49 of incubation. (Emu generally lay 20-30 eggs per season. A typical hen will lay an egg every 3-5 days for about 3 months. Emu eggs are the longest incubating eggs at 50 days.)
Irine was heartbroken over losing two Emu chicks that were so near to having hatched sucessfully. She had been hand turning her 5 Emu eggs 8 times a day for the past 49 days and was understandably attached to them. Thankfully her other 3 chicks hatched with no problems. Irine has 3 healthy Emu chicks running around now that she has to teach how to eat and drink. Mom business. What a fascinating experience that must be for her.
We finished the conversation that evening and she mailed me the two deceased Emu chicks including their eggshells to Taxidermy. I was excited for them to arrive and actaully have the opportunity to hold an Emu egg! What would it feel like, look like, and would it be as big as they really look in photographs? I patiently waited for them to arrive (1 whole day, phew) and crossed my fingers the eggs didn’t crack in the post.
The day they arrived it was clear the care Irine put into their shipping and they were both still cold. Win, win!
Everything was in one piece and no broken eggshells! Well except where the chicks had naturally broken through in their attempt to hatch out.
One chick was still inside its’ egg when I received it and it was sad for me to see it in this state. I couldn’t help but wonder what caused its death. Taxidermy mysteries..It looked to my untrained eye like it was positioned correctly inside its egg and had managed to chip the shell away enough to be able to emerge alright? Don’t worry little one, we’ll make you look good again;) This would be a new adventure for me trying to remove a chick from its delicate egg. Here we go with an Eggtopsy…
I couldn’t have been more fascinated by the whole process. Mother nature continues to amaze me with every opportunity I’m given to work on something of her creation. I really felt like I was holding a baby dinosaur egg. The eggs were so beautiful in person with a slight texture to their rich green color! I did find a huge unabsorbed yolk. Not sure what would cause this? I also found a normal cluster of sticky excrement from the chick inside.
Next step is to pay these two Emu chicks some respect by creating Taxidermy pieces including with them their transport and protection into this world (their eggshell).
I skinned both of the chicks the day I received them because I was so excited. I used all of the typical chemicals to prevent plumage loss and they were both very fresh specimens. Despite my best efforts, they lost a lot of their plumage unfortunately during the process. I assume the reason was because of their young age. I plan to create a piece with one of them inside the egg if the plumage is too far gone on them. Oh, fun!