BIRDS - Field to Freezer
How to properly take care of your birds for the best mount possible and things you should know about what to expect from a mount
As soon as you have your bird - give it a good 'once over' if you think it should be mounted.
Spread out the tail and wings to see if feathers are broken, missing or 'short'.
Broken feathers are damage from activity or the harvest shot and can usually be repaired.
Missing feathers can be replaced if we have another specimen in our inventory; or if you provide saved/collected feathers.
Short feathers are due to the timing of the birds 'molt'. Every year a bird will loose all of its feathers and grow new ones in a staggered pattern; so if you have a few 'short' feathers it is because the bird was not done growing the replacements at the time of harvest/death.
These are called 'blood feathers' and may fall out in the mounting process. If it is a pet and you have saved feathers from a previous molt; those feathers can be replaced.
The photo bellow shows how a mount turned out with damage to the left wing:
PREPARE YOUR BIRD FOR THE FREEZER
Storing your bird for a day or 2 on ice or in the refrigerator is fine; but any longer than that and the bird will need to be frozen.
For best results or long term storage (6 months or more) dampen a paper towel and use it to wrap the legs and feet. For ducks, geese & swans wrap the bill and the face. For birds with exposed skin IE pheasants, chickens & turkeys; Wrap the beak and head with a damp paper towel. Doing this will help avoid freezer burn on areas not protected by feathers and delicate areas around the eyes.
Blood from harvest damage will leave a brown stain on white feathers that can not be washed or bleached out. Avoid this by rinsing the blood off with cold water.
Be sure the wings and tail are folded correctly and tuck the head next to or under one wing. Straighten or bend the legs so they fit neatly against the body. There should be no loose or flopping parts. Now it is ready to be wrapped for freezing.
WRAP YOUR BIRD FOR FREEZING
With all the feathers neatly smoothed down; carefully wrap your bird in newspaper or a dry paper towel, then place it in a plastic bag. Squish out the air and fold/wrap the bag around the bird. If it has very long tail feathers; let them stick out of the bag and leave the bag loose around the tail feathers; but wrap the plastic tight around the body. Repeat the process with 1 or 2 more bags for better protection if you think it may be a long time before the bird will be thawed for mounting.