Taxidermy Thursday – Northern Flicker

I see some pretty interesting and fabulous things at taxidermy night, but some of them could be deemed too gruesome for blogging.  You should have seen the amazing owl adaptations a few weeks back.  But I’ve had some comments from folks who are as interested in that stuff as I am.  This week, we had a cool and unusual visitor to the shop, but I saved him for the end.  If you’re delicate in constitution, just don’t read past the pretty bird shots.  You’ve been warned!

It took me 3 weeks to do this Northern Flicker.  It was such a beautiful specimen that I thought I might actually get to stuff it for a full study skin, so I was being very careful.  However, by the end, my fearless leader had forgotten, so it ended up being a flat skin after all.  It was still a treasure to work with for the time it took.

Here in the northwest, our flickers are “Red-shafted,” as opposed to the Yellow-shafted of the East or the Gilded Flicker of the saguaro forests in Arizona.  Here’s why:

A stunning bird in the wild, they are a stunning contrast of pattern in your hand.

Matt works with the local parks and wildlife people often, and sometimes they bring him very interesting things.  Like a Little Brown Myotis bat.  Unfortunately, the bat hadn’t been picked up in time to be saved for a stuffed specimen, so Matt decided to skeletonize it for his educational collection.  Usually, he makes skeletons by putting the skeleton (or bones or whatever) in a cup of water to let cooties and bacteria clean them.  However, this bat was so tiny, just a few inches nose to tail.  To process it like that would mean the loss of cartilage, and an unmanageable pile of tiny bones to re-articulate.  So Matt pinned it out to dry after removing whatever he could.

Sure, he was a lot cuter inside his skin, but inside the little brown fluff ball that he was, you wouldn’t be able to see his amazing tiny teeth.

You had to look, didn’t you?

And while keying the bat out, I learned a new term.  The calcar on a bat is a little spur of cartilage that comes out of the bat’s ankle and runs down the edge of the membrane to the tail.  It helps keep the membrane spread so that the bat can fly, and it is one of the features we used to find out what kind of bat it was.

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3 Comments

Filed under Inspiration, Taxidermy Thursday

3 responses to “Taxidermy Thursday – Northern Flicker

  1. bird head

    Just a heads up; if you are based in the United States it’s illegal to have any part from a songbird bird in your possession (unless you are a museum or have a special permit) It’s a federal offense to break this law. USFW takes it very seriously and fines can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

    http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/regulationspolicies/mbta/mbtintro.html

    • fibreisle

      Very true. The taxidermist who is training and who supervises us possesses just such a permit for the development of an educational collection. The birds used are all window or road kills or birds found dead on the ground, most often collected by members of the local Audubon Society, who know this project is in the works, and who are also covered by his permit for the pickup and transport to his facility. And my, we are getting an education, as are many school children and members of the public who have access to the collection.

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