There are dead magpies in the freezer

One of my housemates has recently discovered a love for taxidermy that has lead to a freezer draw being dedicated to housing an assortment of dead things. There’s some lovely roadkill, wrapped in plastic bags, nestled between bags of Quorn and frozen peas.

These are the newest additions to the family; a pair of magpies that we got together. Both of the birds were killed for pest control, not specifically for taxidermy. One of them is in slightly worse condition than the other. Its head is a bit mangled and there are a few bald patches. Not to mention the big hole in it’s neck from getting shot. Once we have purchased the necessary equipment (forms, stuffing, plastic eyes etc) we will attempt the slightly uglier one first so it’s less of a loss if it gets ruined.

Neither of us have any experience skinning animals and so far I have done next to no research on the techniques. That will definitely change before we attempt anything, but it’s still going to be an interesting learning curve. Alex (the housemate) has collected wings, skulls, feathers and feet from birds before. Just the other day I walked home to be shown freshly disembodied bits of blackbird. So at least that’s is a start.

No doubt the early attempts at butchering these birds will be well documented. In future posts I will probably be able to link to videos of us trying to remove assorted body parts without freaking out on camera. None of us are very excited about the idea of cutting out eyeballs. Hopefully the kitchen won’t be too covered in feathers and blood (human or bird) by the time we are done.

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If you are interested in learning more about taxidermy, how museum specimens are prepared and kept or finding out what a skinned wolf looks like i would really recommend checking out The Brain Scoop on YouTube. Unlike us Emily actually knows what she is doing. This is mainly Alex’s project but it’s quite hard to have someone cutting up dead things in your house without paying, at least a little, attention. It just so happens that we are willing to join in.

I have been nominated for brain scooping duty. Wish me luck.

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