my first four birds

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my first four birds

Postby kyle916 » Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:54 am

my first four birds in order. getting better with each one I think. I know the neck on the second mallard is too long. the pose on the first one I don't like. critique away! let me know what you think. I can take it.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby kyle916 » Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:56 am

the pics loaded backwards. the mallard flying away was my first bird. the pintail was my last one (4th).
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Re: my first four birds

Postby duxrus » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:35 pm

The necks are way too skinny on all of them (and appear too long). You need to pull the breast skin forward for a more gradual transition. Also it seem the wings are all angles forward past the shoulders. They shouldn't be able to do that anatomically speaking. They would pop out of joint. On your one mallard be aware if natural leg positions for each pose, mallards don't fly with their legs trailing behind , divers yes puddlers no . Those are the major issues that stand out.

That being said, bravo for being brave enough to ask for comments. As with everything, taxidermy takes practice. You are already finding that every bird brings improvement.

Keep up the hard work
Last edited by duxrus on Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby Pete-pec » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:37 pm

I generally say nothing when somone asks for critiques. I feel most times the taxidermist knows what he needs to work on, but I feel by giving you just a couple hints, you can get there a bit sooner.

The letter "S" and the letter "Z" come to mind.

The "S" is the shape of a duck's neck. If you were to replace a duck's exact neck length, you probably are close to length, even though your necks look long. The shape of the neck on your birds are a bit elongated, and could use that "S" I was referring to. By folding up the neck, you take some of that length and bring it in. by learning some techniques with getting the correct girth and filling in the junction where the neck meets the mannikin, you will make quicker progress.

The "Z" is the shape of a duck's wing. Look at the length of your wings. The scapulars and tertials are away from the body, because i believe you left the ball on the humerus and didn't cut a relief. Personally I remove the ball and remove the marrow. If you pay attention to where the ball actually sits in a bird, it is recessed into muscle. The mannikin being rigid does not account for that. Secondly, the humerus now heads south and typically will lay downward toward the tail. The radius and ulna then head north rising up and towards the head. Then the wrist where the feather butts of the primaries will swivel either up or down. They typically follow the line of the leading edge of the wing. So it looks slightly "Z" shaped quite often. Rarely does the wing at the arm pit actually go forward like your wings are showing. The shape you are trying to achieve is manipulated by the bones and I assume wires that are attached to your bones. I use electrical tape to adhere my wires to the wing bones. The shape of a "Z" in the bones and the flight web give you the look I believe you are going for. Get online and look up a duck in flight. You will see the wing seldom does what yours are doing?

Feel free to ask what you do not understand, but accept a critique not as a criticism, but instead a guy willing to take some time to get you there sooner is all. There might be more things to point out, but let's start there. After the light goes on and it clicks, you can move on from there. It takes considerable courage to post those pictures. A definite step in the right direction.

Use reference pictures and pluck a duck sometime to look at what really happens under those feathers concerning muscles and skeleton. You will get a greater feel for what I'm trying to put down in words.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby Pete-pec » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:39 pm

Brian and I mirror each other in our comments and also typed at the same time lol.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby kyle916 » Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:48 pm

thanks for the responses guys.
dux... you are right the feet on that one are wrong. everything about that first one is wrong actually. but it was the first. I don't quite get the wings past the shoulders part. but I will look into it.

it's funny, if I've learned one thing from looking at reference pics, it's that birds naturally do some weird flight poses. it's like some pictures you see of a big group taking off the water, if you were to mount it just like the picture, people would look at the mount and think... nah ducks don't really fly like that!

pete... I actually do cut off the ball joint on the wing bone. I reference where the wings and legs attach to the body and mark that spot on the form to attach them at that point to make it as close as possible. I will look more into bird anatomy though to figure out what you are talking about. I know I lack knowledge in the area as a whole.

I think the last one I did though (the pintail) came out pretty good though, but I guess not. oh well. with more time and practice will come better work.

speaking of which... attached is a photo of my 5th bird (speck). how does this one look. I think it came out pretty good personally. the pose was kinda hard to figure out. they are so (or this one anyway) big it was difficult to come up with the pose exactly as I wanted it. overall, I am happy with it. I will paint it next week and I might try injecting the feet for the first time.

at what time after mounting do you guys inject the feet. one week after, two, three?
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Re: my first four birds

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:23 am

OK Kyle, you took that pretty good. I know how it can leave a sour taste in your mouth when you hear the negativity, especially when you might be pleased with the outcome. Again, this is only to help you. We don't give two schitz how your work looks. We all started at the bottom, so rest assured, we are not judging your intellect based on your artistic talent. That basically means, that we are here to help. Soak in as much as you can, each and every time you ask for a critique, and in turn get one. You are a far braver man than me. I don't ask for them, and my work certainly lags because of it. I do know where my deficiencies are, and I'm stubbornly trying to work through them on my own. My mentors are those in the business who do great work, carry themselves professionally, and are willing to share. What that means is, I have very few mentors, because the unfortunate side of this business, is there is some ugliness. Very few people carry all three traits. If you come across one of those guys, be thankful lol! I have one of those traits, because I'm willing to help. I'm a hack as a taxidermist, and i certainly don't carry myself professionally lol.

So, I wanted to take a few minutes and reply to some of your comments. Most of us who work on birds spend a lot of time looking at birds, so yes, we do know that birds in motion can do some crazy stuff. Tough to mimic? For sure! Impossible? No. That's why a few reference pictures are good. Walking away from a mount in progress that falls short is not the answer. Now mind you, there is no one mimicking what nature does so perfectly. I believe that is the ultimate goal, and likewise the ultimate compliment, when someone says to you…."I can see that bird doing that as it comes into the decoys." So take your time, and study some anatomy like I suggested in the previous post. A plucked duck is a perfect reference.

What Brian was suggesting about the wings past the shoulders, is the way you have the leading edge (coverts) past the ball where the humerus sits on a bird in flight. This is the "Z" I was talking about. If you look at a plucked duck, you will see.

So If you are indeed cutting off the ball of the humerus, you are definitely extending the wing bones to straight away from the duck. I know this, because your shoulder to wrist portion f our birds in flight is far to long of a stretch. That's why it looks stretched on most of the ducks. Again, that "Z" takes care of a lot of tat, and lets you achieve that wing in flight, that I think you see in your head, but are coming up short on your birds. It might be the way you wire, and if you let us know, we might have a suggestion or two on that as well?

So You asked about the white-fronted goose. The wings actually look better, but again, they are too far away from the body. The secondaries should be closer to the side of the goose's body. I like the body and the feet position, the tail, but the head and neck look awkward. If we had a reference pic of the bird you were copying, we could give you a suggestion while the bird is still drying.

The funny thing is, I just mounted a Ross' that was a similar pose, so let me post a picture of the reference, and my rendition. I have since tweaked with the bird. I struggled immensely with this bird due to dehydration in the skin (thawed out the freezer, and this bird lost a lot of water during that process). Both wings were shattered to the wrist, so I had to improvise with wire recreating the bones that were absolutely gone, therefore I had an exterior wire that I will have to clip off and try to hide later after completely drying. I went through a great deal of trouble, only because this is a Wisconsin Ross', which are very rare here. Look at the reference picture more than my mount. I had to take some liberties due to the bird's condition, and the picture I give of my bird is from a slightly different angle. The thing I want to point out is where the wings are, and what the neck is doing…..none of which are perfect on mine, but this is one of those examples that you were talking about, when a bird can do some stuff that is hard to mimic. I didn't nail the pose, but my ten year old daughter said it looked like a "duck" landing with a flock. That was good enough for me. :thumbsup:
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Re: my first four birds

Postby kyle916 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:42 pm

cool picture pete. I think I might steal your pose idea. I just got a banded ross recently and was trying to figure out something cool/a little different to do. don't take this the wrong way at all.... but I was under the impression that you did taxidermy as a profession?
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Re: my first four birds

Postby Pete-pec » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:28 pm

kyle916 wrote:cool picture pete. I think I might steal your pose idea. I just got a banded ross recently and was trying to figure out something cool/a little different to do. don't take this the wrong way at all.... but I was under the impression that you did taxidermy as a profession?


Nope, just a hack hobby taxidermist. My real job is chemical reactor operator....specifically hydrogenization of ether nitriles, forming ether amines.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby sprigpig1 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:42 pm

Pete-pec wrote:
kyle916 wrote:cool picture pete. I think I might steal your pose idea. I just got a banded ross recently and was trying to figure out something cool/a little different to do. don't take this the wrong way at all.... but I was under the impression that you did taxidermy as a profession?


Nope, just a hack hobby taxidermist. My real job is chemical reactor operator....specifically hydrogenization of ether nitriles, forming ether amines.


Sounds way out of my pay grade Pete buddy .. :hi:

Kyle916- regardless if Pete does this as a profession or hobby his advice is solid along with Brian's.
I've learned a lot from guys on this website especially Pete. take these critiques to the bank and apply them to your next mounts and be thankful there are guys out there willing to share things they probably had to learn the hard way.

I second everything Pete and Brian said... Build the neck up, pull the wings in so your secondaries are touching the tertial feathers against the body blending everything together with the scapular group and you need to taxi that skin forward. Again, not bashing your mounts, it takes balls to post your early work... But these critiques will make your birds come together faster if you listen.... If you listen.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby duxrus » Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:41 pm

sprigpig1 wrote:
Pete-pec wrote:
kyle916 wrote:cool picture pete. I think I might steal your pose idea. I just got a banded ross recently and was trying to figure out something cool/a little different to do. don't take this the wrong way at all.... but I was under the impression that you did taxidermy as a profession?


Nope, just a hack hobby taxidermist. My real job is chemical reactor operator....specifically hydrogenization of ether nitriles, forming ether amines.


Sounds way out of my pay grade Pete buddy .. :hi:

Kyle916- regardless if Pete does this as a profession or hobby his advice is solid along with Brian's.
I've learned a lot from guys on this website especially Pete. take these critiques to the bank and apply them to your next mounts and be thankful there are guys out there willing to share things they probably had to learn the hard way.

I second everything Pete and Brian said... Build the neck up, pull the wings in so your secondaries are touching the tertial feathers against the body blending everything together with the scapular group and you need to taxi that skin forward. Again, not bashing your mounts, it takes balls to post your early work... But these critiques will make your birds come together faster if you listen.... If you listen.


I did some reference searching after thinking about this post and I did find a pic or two where a goose/duck sometimes has a lot of space between their secondaries and body but just because they can do something doesn't mean it is visual pleasing. I am sure everyone has seen pictures of birds doing outrageous things with body and feather positions but you have to keep in mind what will translate into a good looking mount. Do as I did and make a simple search of "pictures of landing geese" and "flying ducks". You will see plenty of images that will show you what we have been talking about. To me there isn't a true right or wrong pose "if" physically they can do it. Remember when you mount something you are trying to capture only a snap shot in time of that bird. Some "snap shots of motion" just don't translate well no matter your skill level.

As far as the shape and length of your necks....I always shorten them by about a 1/2" to 3/4" for a better look. I know many will say you always need to make everything exactly the same as what it naturally was. I don't but i never answer with "always" when refering to anything done in taxidermy since everyone uses a different method to some degree to get good results. My way doesn't mean it will be the best way for you or anyone else. It is just the way "I" get the results I want.

On your next bird just try some different adjustments while mounting it. Bend the wings closer to the body and adding the angle as Pete explained. Manuver the breast skin up further toward the head for a "thicker" neck and maybe even try making your neck just a little shorter. You may also use a thicker necking material to buff them up. Now don't go crazy but when i decide on what size I usually use the thickest size closest to the original instead of going the other way.

My best advise to you and anyone learning (not that us old guys don't learn new stuff every bird :smile: ) is to have a few reference pictures to look at as you are working on a bird. Don't be afraid to think out side the box when trying to get this or that to match reference. If something works for you then it works for you. Bend this, pull on that, shorten this, legthen that. If you "trash" a bird while learning you actually learned something. You might just try your next bird as an exploration project with no real intention of haveing a nice bird on the wall. I promise we all had more than one project hit the garbage but learned valuable things with each failed attempt.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby Pete-pec » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:30 pm

agree, agree, agree, agree, agree, agree............But don't we normally?
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Re: my first four birds

Postby kyle916 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:52 pm

did another mount today. i'll post a pic when it's done. I applied some of the advice i got here.

Pete- taking a second look at that mount you did... did you use the original skull?? that bill says snow goose to me not ross's goose?
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Re: my first four birds

Postby Pete-pec » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:05 am

It says snow because I had to grind the hell out of the artificial head due to the dehydration of the skin, so the bill remained large in contrast to the head, because the head was reduced to fit over the skin. The reference picture has a dark grin. I know that it resembles a snow, but this is a bird I shot in Wisconsin, and it had a very dark grin, so I colored it that way.

Again, I'm a hack, so it is what it is! As I stated in my first response, I don't typically reply to critique questions because I'm very aware of my own imperfections.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby kyle916 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:33 am

I don't really mean to "question" you by asking if you were a pro or not. but maybe in a way I did a little bit actually. only a fool would take advice from a random guy on the internet without knowing anything about them. you know what I mean? I hope that didn't come off as rude. I notice that you take much time in responding to peoples questions here. I appreciate it as do others. you've obviously been doing taxi a lot longer than I! any advice I appreciate. I have no one to learn from. I am self taught having just watched a youtube video and a mail order video. lord knows I have a lot to learn. my goal is not to be a pro. but, rather do some nice mounts for myself and some friends occasionally. I find taxidermy to be just plain awesome. my wife and some of my non hunting friends think I'm crazy and a little twisted, but I like the challenge and the beauty of the final product.
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Re: my first four birds

Postby XhailGC » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:08 pm

It looks like you are making good progress!

I will say that one thing that helped me with the neck length was to take a spare bird and remove the skin while leaving the head/neck intact. Then, position the head in different poses to understand how the neck moves and stretches for each pose. That'll give you a good idea on how to position your neck. Take pictures for reference if you wish. I hope that made sense. :)

Also, I like to take as many measurements as possible. I'll usually measure the neck for length and girth so I can discard the carcass.

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Re: my first four birds

Postby hdunn49 » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:28 pm

yes, the neck on that one mallard is too long. IMO though guys make the necks too short. I hate seeing a nice full size duck with a stubby little neck. I would rather have it be an inch to long than too short (haha, that's what she said).
about the rest, I see great improvement with each bird. I think the pintail looks awesome :thumbsup:
post up some more!
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