Got Dead Birds

No! That’s not how I really pop the question to people! It’s more like..I’m a creepy Taxidermy student who needs some dead animals. I know you have some in your freezer so hand em’ over to me, NOW!

So naturally I wanted to practice on more birds after finishing my first Taxiied European Starling. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find ethically sourced birds for Taxidermy?! It’s harder than dancing with a blue carrot!

I love animals and do prefer them alive. We forget death is as much a part of our world as life. I believe in not letting things go to waste whether it’s food or in Taxidermy’s case an animal. I do have ethics I follow when obtaining a specimen. I won’t work on any animal that has died just for the sake of the art of Taxidermy. I only obtain specimens legally after natural or unavoidable death, hunted for sustenance or that are non-native/nuisance animals. There are also many State and Federal laws protecting our wildlife. If you have any questions about existing laws you can call your State and/or Federal Fish and Wildlife Service like I did. My experience when calling was a positive one and they were happy to help with all my questions. Remember there is a lot of incorrect information online and it’s always best to reference more than one source for an answer.

Over weeks I reached out to the aviculture business, breeders, pet stores, shelters, vets, you name it. Days went by and no luck. Maybe I was saying the wrong things? I appreciated the people who took the time to respond but all I got were reasons why they can’t help me or an occasional contact to try further. Most people send their deceased birds for necropsy, gift them to universities or just have a policy not to sell deceased birds. Until one day, FINALLY someone from a pet store was willing to help me out! Located about 3 hours each way by bus away from me but I jumped at the opportunity.

I bought a big styrofoam coolers and caught the Disneyland bound bus. I sat down next to a young girl with Mickey ears on for what would be a long ride. After hours on the bus with my squeaky foam cooler and multiple transfers I had arrived! The pet store was amazing! They were selling, buying, raising and loving birds in every corner!

I took all of the birds they told me had died naturally and were free of any communicable diseases:

  • 1 Goldfinch
  • 4 Canaries
  • 3 Cordon Blue
  • 1 Opaline Red Rump
  • 1 Blue, Peach Faced Lovebird

Before going home I dashed across the street and bought ice from a gas station to keep the birds frozen. I had to rearrange the birds inside the store hiding behind Snickers Bars and a Soda Fountain. I hurried but a customer came in for a refill of soda and gave me a bigger stare than his Big Gulp he was holding.

I WAS SO EXCITED to finally have some beautiful birds to practice on! When I hopped back on the bus I grabbed a seat in the back and balanced the cooler on my lap. There was a man sitting next to me the entire journey sipping on wine. Each time he’d take a drink he’d open the window so it wouldn’t smell. Yeah, like that would make a difference? He WREAKED of alcohol and each stop I kept waiting for him to get off. Just about ten minutes before I got off my last stop he asked me a question..”What you got in that cooler, some body parts or decapitated heads or somethin’?”. I said, “Nope, just some dead birds”. His face recoiled back like a turtle into its shell and looked genuinely disgusted. He asked, “Were they your pets?”. “Nope, just some birds I’m going to skin and preserve.”, I said quietly. My response seemed to puzzle him as he just looked at me a bit longer then took another sip of wine. That was the end of the conversation.

And that was the end of an at times awkward, but good day.