Taxidermy Eagle Restoration – Conservation of a Different Nature

I’ve said before now that I am interested in conservation in all its forms. This is one of them.

A real passion of mine throughout my life has been taxidermy. I remember, as a kid, wandering round museums looking at the mounted up animals and imagining them coming to life. It’s a passion that I’ve carried through the years, and over the last few I’ve got involved in it myself. I began by collecting bones and feathers and odds and ends I found on walks and now have a freezer of road-kill waiting to be skinned and mounted up – as time and workspace allow!

Over the last couple of years I’ve picked up pieces of old taxidermy – mainly through feeling sorry for the poor things! – this prompted me to begin restoring old mounts and to try and return them to some of their former glory…or in fact with one or two pieces to give them some of the pride they were deprived of in the first place!

I’ve worked on a few pieces now for other people – a juvenile crocodile, a fox, an otter, an osprey…but the piece I’m most proud of is the one I’ve just finished – an eagle for the local secondary school. Here’s what it looked like before:

Before: Full Mount - the extent of damage and wear and tear is clear!
Before: Full Mount – the extent of damage and wear and tear is clear!

Now this poor thing had suffered pretty much every form of abuse possible…

  • sunlight exposure
  • moth damage
  • kids had pulled the tail out
  • feather loss on back of neck, again caused by people pulling feathers out
  • base pulled apart
  • rubbish stuck inside the base, inside the wings, and feathers
  • paint spattered on feathers
  • feet pulled to bits
  • no cleaning
  • no maintenance…the list goes on.
Feet - damage is immediately obvious
Before: Feet – damage is immediately obvious
Head - feather fading, paint, moth damage and feather loss
Before: Head – feather fading, paint, moth damage and feather loss
The back of the eagles neck - feather loss evident!
Before: The back of the eagles neck – feather loss evident!
This picture broke my heart. How could you not want to help something looking so sad?
Before: This picture broke my heart. How could you not want to help something looking so sad?
Wing -Fading, moth damage, feather loss
Before: Wing -Fading, moth damage, feather loss
Those Pesky Kids...
Before: Those Pesky Kids…

I apologise for the shoddy quality of the “Before” photographs, they were snapped quickly on my phone. Anyway, what entailed was a thorough cleaning, de-mothing, dusting, stripping the base, rebuilding pretty much everything, re-colouring the feathers, and applying fresh paint to the feet and beak. Needless to say it took a long time.

However, after all the work I am pleased to present an eagle with a bit more dignity:

Before and After: Wing Re-Colouring
Before and After: Wing Re-Colouring
Before and After: Leg Re-Colouring
Before and After: Leg Re-Colouring
Before and After: Portrait Shot
Before and After: Portrait Shot
Before and After: A Front View
Before and After: A Front View
Before and After: Feet after that had been re-built and re-coloured
Before and After: Feet after that had been re-built and re-coloured
Before and After: A Full Side-by-Side Comparison
Before and After: A Full Side-by-Side Comparison

So there you have it! One eagle.

After: Eagle
After: Eagle

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