Did I mention this posse is a bunch of babies?
I’ve finally finished all four baby Rheas! I love these fuzz buttons so much and boy were they fascinating to Taxidermy! The first baby Rhea had some bumps and learning curves that didn’t make it ideal to document, but below is my second shot at them. In hindsight I would have loved to give these birds all a set of Ray Bans and gold chains (maybe a gold beak) for a group shot. It was so cool to see them all together but each one with such a unique character and build. Just like people~!
So here are some (not all) steps of the process for baby Rhea number two..
Soak Rhea in a bath of denatured alcohol before beginning.
The wings are tiny!
Rheas have belly buttons that sometimes get infected after birth and can cause a young chick to pass away if not taken care of properly. I didn’t know they had a belly button and thought I had already come to the Rheas cloaca. (poop hole)
Yeah, this one got a little messy. Mustard colored stuff, that's poop. YUCK!
I was amazed at how big this birds eye orbits are compared to the skull of other birds I’ve Taxidermied. Big eyes, small brain; just like me.
Have you ever seen a Rhea tongue before? Tiny.
The wrapped body on this Rhea number two I attached the neck differently. Because of how heavy the skull gets after adding clay etc. the weight of the head causes the neck to swing around all out of order. I fixed that problem by anchoring the wire around the side of the wrapped body and anchoring into the other side. This way the neck has no leeway to sway or spin around.
My favorite part of Taxidermy is when you finally get to put the glass eyes in and reinvert the head. It’s the magic moment when it comes to life and takes on a personality!
You have to trim the neck wire you guide in through the natural hole in the back of the skull up into the sinuses. You don’t want it too long or that wire pokes out through its nostril. I made this one too long the first time as usual and it looked like it had a nose stud.
As you guide the wire through the sinuses, you open its mouth and stick your finger inside to feel for the wire to make sure it doesn’t go off course and tear a hole through the birds face.
This Rhea had a little dirt in its mouth I cleaned out.
This baby Rhea was so easy to wire and tie the wings and legs. Even skinning and fleshing was much easier than other birds I’ve done. Believe it or not these guys have really THICK skin even at this young age. Its feathers don’t fall out either like other birds I’ve worked on, yay!
I used the heaviest gauge wire I have (14 gauge) on the Rheas legs.
Position the wings and legs anatomically back where they should be based on the sketch I made of the carcass.
Yup, we have cheerleader baby Rhea!
I used some fiberfill for the leg drumstick area and the tail.
Time to sew it up.
All sewn up and ready to attach to the round plaque and pose into position.
Now, the chinchilla dust to degrease the bird even further and add some sparkle.
I love seeing the birds full of this stuff.
A little shake to get the excess off before blow drying.
After a blow dry, I put some bird feet injection fluid into its toes and ankle area to plump them up.