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Title: Manual of Taxidermy - A Complete Guide in Collecting and Preserving Birds and Mammals
Author: Maynard, Charles Johnson
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                        MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY

                         A Complete Guide

                   IN COLLECTING AND PRESERVING
                         BIRDS AND MAMMALS

                         BY C. J. MAYNARD

                          _ILLUSTRATED_

                             BOSTON
                    S. E. CASSINO AND COMPANY
                              1883

                          _Copyright,
                      BY S. E. CASSINO & CO.
                             1883._

                          ELECTROTYPED.

                    BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY,
                       NO. 4 PEARL STREET.



INTRODUCTION.


Twenty-five or thirty years ago amateur collectors of birds were
rare; in fact, excepting in the immediate vicinity of large cities,
individuals who spent their leisure time in gathering birds for the
sole purpose of study, were so seldom met with that, when one did
occur, his occupation was so unusual as to excite the comments of his
neighbors, and he became famous for miles around as highly eccentric.
Such a man was regarded as harmless, but as just a little "cracked,"
and the lower classes gazed at him with open-mouthed wonder as he
pursued his avocations; while the more educated of his fellows regarded
him with a kind of placid contempt. I am speaking now of the days
when the ornithology of America was, so to speak, in obscurity; for
the brilliant meteor-light of the Wilsonian and Audubonian period
had passed, and the great public quickly forgot that the birds and
their ways had ever been first in the minds of any one. To be sure,
men like Cassin, Lawrence, Baird, and Bryant were constantly writing
of birds, but they did it in a quiet, scientific way, which did not
reach the general public. Possibly the political troubles in which our
country was involved had something to do with the great ornithological
depression which fell upon the popular mind. Strange as it may appear,
however, for a period of thirty years after the completion of Audubon's
great work, not a general popular work of any kind was written on birds
in America. Then appeared Samuels' "Birds of New England," published
in 1867, a work which apparently did much toward turning the popular
tide in favor of ornithological study, for from that time we can
perceive a general awakening. Not only did the newspapers and magazines
teem with articles on birds, but in the five succeeding years we find
three important works on American ornithology announced as about to
appear: Baird, Brewer, and Ridgeway's "History of American Birds,"
of which three volumes have appeared, published in 1874; Maynard's
"Birds of Florida," issued in parts, but afterwards merged into the
"Birds of Eastern North America," completed in 1882, and Coues' "Key,"
published in 1872. Other works quickly followed, for now the popular
ornithological tide was setting strongly towards the flood, and it
has ever since been rushing on and gathering recruits as it goes,
until the tidal wave of popular favor for ornithological pursuits has
reached from shore to shore across our great continent; and where there
were once only a few solitary devotees to this grand science, we can
number thousands, and still they come; so that high-water mark is not
yet reached, while to all appearances this tidal-wave will agitate the
coming generation more strongly than it does the present.

Of all the vast numbers interested in the study of bird life, there are
few who do not gather specimens. Years ago, in the beginning of the
study, when the solitary naturalist had no one to sympathize with him
in his pursuits, birds' skins were usually made in what we would now
consider a shocking manner. Within the last fifteen years, however,
since ornithologists have become more numerous, and the opportunities
of comparison of workmanship in preserving specimens has been
facilitated, great improvements are seen. Slovenly prepared collections
are now far from desirable; in fact, even rare specimens lose much of
their value when poorly made up. When there are enough experienced
collectors in one locality to compare notes as to the various
improvements each has made in skin-making and mounting birds, one
aids the other; but there is always a multitude of beginners who live
in isolated localities and who do not number experienced collectors
among their friends, and who consequently require the aid of written
instructions. Hence the need of books to teach them.

This little work, then, is intended to meet the wants of amateur
ornithological collectors, wherever it may find them, for it is written
by one who has at least had the advantage of a very wide experience in
collecting skins, making and mounting. He has also had the advantage
of comparing his methods with those of many excellent amateurs and
professional collectors throughout the country; and if he has not
conferred any benefits on them, he has at least gained much useful
information, and the results of all this are now laid before the reader.

The art of taxidermy is very ancient, and doubtless had its origin
among the very early races of man, who not only removed the skins of
birds and mammals for clothing, but also for ornaments. Birds and
mammals were also frequently regarded as objects of worship, and
consequently preserved after death, as among the ancient Egyptians,
who embalmed entire birds and mammals that were considered sacred.

From the rude methods of preserving skins, doubtless, arose the idea
of mounting, or placing the skins in lifelike attitudes. The first
objects selected for this purpose were, of course, birds and mammals
of singular forms or brilliant colors, as objects of curiosity. Later
specimens would have been preserved for ornamental purposes, but it
is probable that it was not until the seventeenth century that either
birds or mammals were collected with any idea of their scientific value.

Specimens either mounted or in skins must have been rudely preserved
at first, but, like all other branches of art and science, when people
began to understand the value of well-made specimens when compared with
those poorly done, workmen who became skilled in their art appeared and
turned out good work. The art of making good skins, however, never was
understood in this country, at least until within the last fifteen or
twenty years, and even now it is rare to find good workmen who can make
skins well and rapidly.

As is natural, many methods have been practiced to insure lifelike
attitudes in birds and other objects of natural history. A good
opportunity of studying the various schools of mounting may be seen
among the specimens of a large museum, where material is gathered from
various localities throughout the world. I have seen birds filled with
many varieties of material, from cotton to plaster, and have even seen
cases where the skin is drawn over a block of wood carved to imitate
the body removed.

As a rule, I prefer the soft body filling, where all the wires are
fastened together in the centre of the inside of the skin, and cotton,
or some similar elastic material, filled in around it. This method
is, however, very difficult to learn, and, unless one has had a large
experience in handling birds, will not give satisfactory results. I
have therefore recommended the hard body method, as given in the text,
as being the best, as it is more easily learned and always gives the
best results in the hands of amateurs.

In skin-making, although I have given two methods, making in the form
and wrapping, I prefer the latter, as being by far the best, although
it is not as easy to learn.

Mounting mammals and reptiles and making their skins also varies as
given by different individuals, but I have given the method by which I
have found, by experience, amateurs succeed the best.

Some may consider the information given in the following pages, too
meagre for practical purposes, but I have purposely avoided giving
lengthy instructions, considering a few well-worded sentences much
better, as expressing much more clearly the ideas I wish to convey. In
short, the reader has the condensed results of my extended experience,
and if he will follow with care and patience the instructions herein
given, I am sure that he will obtain satisfactory results from his
labor.

I have endeavored to inculcate the idea in the following pages that he
who wishes to be a successful taxidermist cannot accomplish his end
without the utmost care; he must exercise patience and perseverance
to the extreme; difficulties will arise, but he must overcome them by
severe application to the study of his art, and, as years pass by,
experience will teach him much that he never knew before. I have been
assured many times, by men who are now skilful workmen, that their
first ideas of preserving specimens were divined from my "Naturalist's
Guide." Thus I trust the present little work may aid others who are
entering the fairy land of science, to prepare lasting mementoes
gathered by the way.

                                                       C. J. MAYNARD.

BOSTON, MASS.



TABLE OF CONTENTS.

                                                               PAGE

EXPLANATION OF PLATES

INTRODUCTION

                              PART I.--BIRDS.

    CHAPTER I.--COLLECTING                                        1

      Section I. Trapping, etc. Section II. Shooting. Section
        III. Procuring Birds. Section IV. Care of Specimens.

    CHAPTER II.--SKINNING BIRDS                                  33

      Section I. Ordinary Method. Section II. Exceptions to the
        usual Method of Skinning. Section III. Ascertaining the
        Sex of Birds. Section IV. Preserving Skins. Section V.
        Other Methods of Preserving Skins.

    CHAPTER III.--MAKING SKINS                                   49

      Section I. Cleaning Feathers. Section II. Making Skins
        of Small Birds. Section III. Making Skins of Long-necked
        Birds. Section IV: Making Skins of Herons, Ibises, etc.
        Section V. Hawks, Owls, Eagles, Vultures, etc. Section
        VI. Labelling Specimens. Section VII. Care of Skins,
        Cabinets, etc. Section VIII. Measuring Specimens.
        Section IX. Making Over Old Skins.

    CHAPTER IV.--MOUNTING BIRDS                                  64

      Section I. Instruments. Section II. Mounting from Fresh
        Specimens. Section III. Crested Birds. Section IV.
        Mounting with Wings Spread. Section V. Mounting Birds
        for Screens, etc. Section VI. Mounting Dried Skins.
        Section VII. Prices for Mounting Birds. Section VIII.
        Panel Work.--Game Pieces, etc.

    CHAPTER V.--MAKING STANDS                                    81

      Section I. Plain Stands. Section II. Ornamental Stands.

                    PART II.--MAMMALS, REPTILES, ETC.

    CHAPTER VI.--COLLECTING MAMMALS                              84

    CHAPTER VII.--MAKING SKINS OF MAMMALS                        86

      Section I. Skinning Small Mammals. Section II. Skinning
        Large Mammals. Section III. Making Skins of Mammals.
        Section IV. Measuring Mammals.

    CHAPTER VIII.--MOUNTING MAMMALS                              90

      Section I. Small Mammals. Section II. Large Mammals.
        Section III. Mounting Dried Skins of Mammals. Section
        IV. Mounting Mammals without any bones.

    CHAPTER IX.--MOUNTING REPTILES, BATRACHIANS, AND FISHES      97

      Section I. Mounting Lizards, Alligators, etc. Section
        II. Mounting Turtles. Section III. Mounting Fishes.



LIST AND EXPLANATION OF PLATES.

                           FIG. 1.--PAGE 2.

Sieve trap: B, common coal sieve, set with one edge raised by stick
A, to which is attached the string C, one end of which is held by the
bird-catcher at a distance. When the bird, attracted by the bait, goes
under the sieve, the stick is jerked out and the sieve falls.

                           FIG. 2.--PAGE 3.

Ever-ready bird-trap: D, body of trap made of netting F and A, hoops
supporting netting. A, ring to which are attached the wires C, which
point backwards. The bait is placed within the body of the trap and
scattered through the ring B. Then the bird enters at the entrance A,
goes through the ring B, so on past the wires C, which are arranged in
a circle to prevent his egress. The bird is removed through an orifice
in the back, drawn together with a string at F.

                           FIG. 3.--PAGE 33.

Skinning-knife: The handle of this knife should be round, and the blade
does not close.

                           FIG. 4.--PAGE 37.

Skull of bird (side view): Dotted line from A to B shows cut to be made
in removing back of skull to give access to brain.

                           FIG. 5.--PAGE 37.

Skull of bird, under side: Dotted lines A, A, A, show cuts to be made
in removing a triangular piece of bone and muscle, to which the whole
or a portion of the brain will adhere.

                           FIG. 6.--PAGE 42.

Dissection of a song sparrow, showing male organs of reproduction: 1
and 2, lungs; 3, 3, testicles. The four organs below these are the
kidneys.

                           FIG. 7.--PAGE 43.

Dissection of a song sparrow, showing female organs of reproduction: 4,
lungs; 1, 1, small yellow glands, present in both sexes; 2, ovaries; 3,
oviduct. These last four figures are merely diagrams, only sufficiently
accurate in outline to convey an idea of the position of the parts
indicated.

                           FIG. 8.--PAGE 50.

Tweezers for making skins, mounting, etc.: Several sizes are used, but
as a rule the points should be longer than those given in the cut.

                           FIG. 9.--PAGE 51.

Drying forms fastened to a board, D, skin in the form. I now use these
forms detached. See text. Also, see page 54 for a better method of
making skins which I now practise.

                           FIG. 10.--PAGE 54.

Form of a skin of an oriole: I now use the long label given on page 58.
A skin should not be made too full; a dead bird laid on its back will
convey an idea of the thickness of the body of a skin.

                           FIG. 11.--PAGE 64.

Straight-nosed pliers: Used for bending wires in mounting.

                           FIG. 12.--PAGE 64.

Cutting-pliers: Used for cutting wires in mounting.

                           FIG. 13.--PAGE 66.

Body of a bird: E, neck-wire, which should be as long as the neck and
tongue in order to reach into the upper mandible. This wire should be
wrapped in cotton. B, wire before clinching; G, C, wire clinched; F,
tail wire bent in the form of a T at H, a leg wire going through tarsus
along dotted line to D.

                           FIG. 14.--PAGE 67.

Roughly-drawn skeleton of a pinnated grouse, only sufficiently accurate
to indicate the different bones: A, skull; B, B, B, vertebræ; furcula
of neck and back, or wishing-bone; D, forearm; F, carpus, showing
hollow in bone through which the wire is to be passed in wiring the
wing; G, end of furcula; H, tip of keel; I, indentations in posterior
border of stemma; J, femur; K, tarsus; L, heel; M, pelvis; N, cocyx; O,
crest of keel; P, side of keel; X, wire used in mounting skeleton; A,
B, ribs.

                           FIG. 15.--PAGE 69.

Outline figure of grouse showing external parts: A, back; B, rump; C,
upper tail coverts; D, under tail coverts; E, ventral region; F, tibra;
G, tarsus; H, breast; I, side; J, throat; N, chin; L, abdomen; M, feet.

                           FIG. 16.--PAGE 73.

Outline drawing of a mounted bird: A, A, dotted line to indicate the
relative position of the head and body, with the perch on which the
bird stands; B, B, winding cotton to keep the feathers in position; C,
C, indicating proper position of wings; D, tail feathers "plated." I
do not now recommend this method. E, E, tail bearing wire; F, upright
of gland; H, horizontal bar of stand; I, feet of bird on stand; S,
leg-wire wrapped around bar after emerging from foot.

                           FIG. 17.--PAGE 92.

Lower portion of bolt used in mounting large mammals: A, movable nut on
screw C; B, immovable flat washer.



MANUAL OF TAXIDERMY.



PART I.--BIRDS.



CHAPTER I.

COLLECTING.


[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

SECTION I.: TRAPPING, ETC.--Several devices for securing birds for
specimens may be successfully practised, one of the simplest of which
is the box-trap, so familiar to every schoolboy. If this be baited with
an ear of corn and placed in woods frequented by jays, when the ground
is covered with snow, and a few kernels of corn scattered about, as an
attraction, these usually wary birds will not fail to enter the trap.
I have captured numbers in this way, in fact, the first bird which I
ever skinned and mounted, was a blue jay, caught in a box-trap. I was
only a small boy then, so I do not now remember what first suggested
mounting the bird, but the inherent desire to preserve the specimen
must have been fully as strong then as in later years, or I never could
have brought myself to the point of killing a bird in cold blood. In
fact, putting the bird to death is the worst of trapping; and with
me, unless I do it at once, during the first excitement of finding the
bird entrapped, the deed is likely never to be done at all. Sparrows,
snow-buntings, and in fact nearly all birds of this class may be
caught in box-traps in winter. For these small birds, scatter chaff
over the snow so thickly as to conceal it, then use a spindle upon
which canary-seed has been glued, for bait, scattering some of the
seed outside. Other traps, however, may be used more successfully for
fringilline birds. For example, the clap-net trap, where two wings,
covered with a net, close over the birds, which are attracted by seeds
strewn in chaff, scattered in the snow. This trap, which is similar
to those used by wild-pigeon catchers, is sprung by means of a long
cord, the end of which is in the hands of a person who is concealed in
a neighboring thicket or artificial bower. A very simple trap, but
excellent for catching sparrows, may be made by tilting a common coal
sieve on one edge, keeping it up by means of a stick which has a cord
attached to the middle (see Fig. 1). The birds will readily go under
the sieve, in search of food, when the trapper, who is concealed at a
short distance, jerks out the stick by means of the cord; the sieve
falls and the birds are captured. This trap requires constant watching,
which, in cold days, is not very pleasant; thus a much better trap may
be found in one of my own inventions, which is called the "Ever-ready
Bird Trap." It is made of strong netting stretched over wire, and is
placed on the ground or on a board in a tree. A decoy bird, of the
same species as those to be captured, is procured if possible, and
placed in the back of the trap at Fig. 2, and then the birds enter the
front of the trap, B; pass through the way of wires, C, which pointing
backward after the manner of the well-known rat-trap, prevent their
egress. This trap is constantly set, and several birds are captured at
one time. Orioles, bobolinks, rose-breasted grosbeaks, goldfinches,
snow-buntings, all other sparrows and finches, in fact, all birds which
will come to a decoy or bait, may be taken in this trap.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.]

I have frequently taken jays in small snares similar to those used
in capturing rabbits. Quail and ruffed grouse were also taken in
this manner before the present time, but it is now illegal to trap
game-birds in nearly all the States.

The steel trap of the smallest size is exceedingly useful in capturing
hawks, owls, and even eagles, as well as many other large birds. One
way is to set it in the nest of the bird, first taking care to remove
the eggs, substituting for them those of a hen. Almost all large birds
may be taken in this manner, and it is an excellent way to identify
the eggs in case of some rare hawks or herons. The topmost portion of
some dead stub, which is a favorite roost of a hawk or eagle, is a
good place to set a trap; and small hawks and owls may be captured
by putting the trap on the top of a stake, some eight or ten feet
high, in a meadow, especially if there are no fences near. Hawks and
owls haunt meadows in search of mice, and invariably light upon a
solitary stake, if they can find one, in order to eat their prey or to
rest, and thus are very apt to put their "foot into it," in a manner
decidedly agreeable to the collector, if not so pleasing to themselves.
Steel-traps may also be set on boards nailed to trees, in the woods
or on hill-tops, but they should in this case be baited with a small
mammal or bird. I have succeeded in capturing marsh hawks by tying a
living mouse to a steel-trap, and placing it in a meadow which was
frequented by these birds. Other hawks and also eagles may be captured
by using decoys; the best thing for this purpose being, strangely
enough, a live great horned owl. The owl is fastened to a stout stake
in an open field or meadow during the migration of hawks, in the spring
or fall, and surrounded by baited traps. The hawks passing over are
attracted by the novel spectacle of an owl in such a peculiar position
and come swooping down for a nearer view, when they perceive the bait,
and in trying to eat it are caught. A hawk or eagle may be used in this
way as a decoy, but the great horned owl is by far the best.

In using steel traps, care should be taken to wrap the jaws with cloth,
so as to prevent injury to the legs of the bird captured. Vultures may
be taken in steel traps by simply baiting them with any kind of flesh.
Many species of birds may be successfully captured by one or another of
the methods given. In fact, we are in constant receipt of trapped birds
during the proper seasons, and thus many hawks and owls which would
have been difficult to procure are taken in numbers by our collectors.

Bird-lime, although scarcely advisable when the birds are intended to
be preserved, may be used to advantage in capturing birds for the cage.
A small quantity of it is spread on a twig or small stick, one end of
which is lightly stuck in a notch on some upright branch or stem, in
such a position that the bird must alight on it in order to reach the
bait. The stick should be poised so lightly that the slightest touch of
the bird's feet will cause it to drop, when the bird, giving a downward
stroke with its wings to save itself from falling, will strike the
outer quills against the stick, and thus both feet and wings become
fastened to it by the adhering lime. In case of a rare specimen, the
lime may be removed from the plumage by the aid of alcohol, or the
bird will remove it in time, if permitted to live. Good bird-lime is
difficult to procure; that made from linseed-oil and tar, boiled down,
is the best; but this process must be carried on in the open air, as
the mixture is exceedingly inflammable. The sticky mass thus obtained
must be worked with the hands under water, until it assumes the proper
consistency. In spreading lime on the sticks, the fingers should be
wet to prevent the lime sticking to them. Another way in which I have
taken such unsuspicious birds as pine grosbeaks, cross-bills and
red-polls, is by placing a noose of fine wire on the end of a pole, and
by approaching a tree cautiously, in which the birds were feeding, have
managed to slip it over their heads, when they are drawn fluttering
downward, and the noose removed, before any permanent injury is done.
I have even taken pine grosbeaks in an open field in this manner, and
have ascended a tree and captured them with only the noose attached to
a stout piece of wire, in my hand.


SECTION II.: SHOOTING.--Although, as shown, many valuable species
may be secured by trapping, snaring, etc., yet the collector relies
mainly on his gun. This much being decided, it at once occurs to the
beginner, What kind of a weapon shall I get? Of course, muzzle-loaders
are now out of the question; and among the multitudes of breech-loaders
in the market, one has only to consult his taste or the length of
his purse. Therefore it is simply useless for me to recommend any
particular make of gun. Good single-barrel breech-loaders can be bought
for from nine dollars to twenty dollars, while double-barrels cost from
fifteen dollars upward. For ordinary collecting, a twelve-gauge is
perhaps better than any other, as such birds as ducks, hawks and crows
can be readily killed with it. For warblers, wrens, and other small
birds, however, a much smaller gauge gun is almost indispensable, as a
large gun sends the shot with such force that it not only penetrates
the body of the bird, but also goes out on the opposite side; thus each
shot makes two holes, when one is all that is necessary to kill. This
fact should then always be kept in mind, and as a rule load lightly,
with just enough powder to cause the shot to penetrate well into the
bird without going through it. In a twelve-gauge gun, two drachms of
powder behind an ounce of shot is sufficient to kill a bird like a jay
or golden-winged woodpecker, at a distance of thirty or forty yards;
then if more penetration is necessary, more powder may be used with
the same quantity of shot, but this will cause the shot to scatter
more. A good collecting gun, one which will kill small birds with
a very small amount of ammunition and little noise, has long been
a desideratum. I have tried many kinds, but nothing has proved so
satisfactory as a small repeating gun of my own invention, and which
is manufactured by us. This gun consists of two brass tubes, a smaller
one within a larger, with an air space between, thus greatly deadening
the sound; and both are securely fastened to a finely nickel-plated
five-shot revolver. We make two sizes, a twenty-two gauge, the report
of which is very slight, and a thirty-two gauge, which makes a little
louder noise. The former will kill warblers at fifteen yards, and the
latter at twenty yards, while birds like jays, thrushes, and robins,
may be brought down with the thirty-two gauge at a distance of ten
yards. This gun served me well in Florida last winter, and I killed
at least two-thirds of the birds that I collected there with it. The
light report of such a gun does not frighten the birds, while the
fact that one nearly always has a second shot ready in the revolving
cylinder, is a great help, in case of a wounded bird, or in the sudden
appearance of a second specimen, as so often happens, after the first
has fallen. The price of this gun varies from four dollars and fifty
cents to five dollars and seventy-five cents, according to quality and
size. Blow-guns, air-guns, catapults, etc., are useful only in cases
when a shot-gun cannot be used, as they cannot be depended upon. A
collector, in order to procure birds with a certainty, requires a good
shot-gun. The ammunition used in the small collecting gun is copper
shells, primed, of three lengths for each size. For shot, I use dust
numbers ten and eight, but for a larger gun, coarser shot is sometimes
necessary; collectors, however,--especially beginners,--are apt to use
too large shot. On the contrary, I do not like to shoot too fine shot
at large birds; thus a hawk killed with a heavy charge of dust-shot
at twenty yards would have the feathers cut up very badly, whereas
a warbler shot at the same distance would be likely to make a good
specimen, as it would only receive a few pellets of shot, whereas a
large number would strike the hawk. As a rule, then, use dust-shot for
birds up to the size of a cedar-bird, then number ten to the size of
a jay, after which number eight will kill better and cleaner, and I
should use this size as long as it will bring down the birds; and it
is surprising to see how large species may be killed with it. I have
taken brown pelicans, wild geese, and large hawks with number eight,
and I once secured a frigate-bird with it, all at good distances. For
very large birds like cranes, white pelicans, or eagles I have used a
rifle very successfully. A thirty-two gauge Allen is my favorite gun,
and I have killed birds at all distances from twenty to three hundred
and twenty-five yards with it. Of course, nearly all successful rifle
shots must be made at sitting birds, as I have met with but few who
could bring them down when flying. Another good method of securing
large shy birds which go in flocks, is to load with buckshot, putting
a stiff charge of powder, say three to five drachms, behind it, then
fire into the flock from a distance, elevating the gun at an angle of
some forty-five degrees above the birds. I have killed both species of
pelicans at two hundred yards distant in this way.


SECTION III.: PROCURING BIRDS.--Birds are to be found nearly
everywhere, in fact, there is scarcely a square acre of land on the
face of the earth which is not inhabited, at one season or another,
by some species, and many are found on the beaches, and on the ocean
itself. Following are some of the localities in which our American
species are to be found; and, presumably, foreign birds of the same
families will occur in similar places.

TURDIDÆ: THRUSHES.--Of these, the robin is the most common and is found
everywhere. Next among the true thrushes are the olive-backed, hermit,
and allied species. These occur usually in woodlands, and are rather
shy, keeping at a distance. The wood thrush inhabits deeply-wooded
glens. The mocking thrushes prefer thickets in the neighborhood of
dwellings,--for example, the cat-bird. The brown thrush also inhabits
thickets, but are not, as a rule, fond of the society of man, while the
smaller thrushes, of which the golden-crowned is an example, prefer the
woodlands; and the two water thrushes are found in swampy localities.

SAXICOLIDÆ: STONE-CHATS.--The blue-birds are often sociable, building
in orchards and farmyards, while the western species appear to prefer
mountain cliffs as breeding-places. The rare stone-chat is, I think,
found in open sections where it occurs at all.

CINCLIDÆ: OUZEL.--The solitary species of ouzel found with us inhabits
the mountain streams of the far west.

SYLVIDÆ: TRUE WARBLERS.--Are pre-eminently birds of the woodlands, but
occasionally the kinglets, notably the golden-crowned, will wander into
orchards during mild days in winter.

CHAMÆIDÆ: WRENTITS.--The only species found in the United States
inhabits the sage-brush in the far southwest.

PARIDÆ: TITMICE.--Are also found in the woods or thickets, but some
species wander into the orchards during winter.

SITTIDÆ: NUTHATCHES.--Are birds of the woodlands as a rule, but the
white and red-bellied nuthatches wander considerably in autumn, while
the brown-headed seldom if ever leave the piny woods of the south.

TROGLODYTIDÆ: WRENS.--The creeper-wrens are found among the cacti of
the far southwest, while the rock-wrens occur among thickets in a
similar region. The true wrens are found in thickets, often in the
neighborhood of dwellings, in which they frequently build, while the
two marsh wrens occur on both salt and fresh water marshes throughout
the country.

ALAUDIDÆ: TRUE LARKS.--These birds occur on the far prairies, on the
coast of Labrador, and in winter along the barren seashores of the
northern and middle section.

MOTACILIDÆ: WAGTAILS.--Are also birds of the open country, and the
titlark is found in fields during the migrations, especially along the
coast from Maine to Florida.

SYLVICOLIDÆ: AMERICAN WARBLERS.--These gems of the woodland and of
wayside thickets abound throughout the length and breadth of our
country. During the migrations they are generally distributed, it not
being uncommon, then, to find even the Blackburnian warbler, which,
during the nesting season, is pre-eminently a bird of the deep woods,
feeding in the open fields, while I have taken the Cape May warbler,
which occurs in summer in the thick evergreens of the north, feeding
among the oranges and bananas in the gardens of Key West. Warblers
then should be looked after nearly everywhere, among willows by the
brookside, on the barren hill-tops which scarcely support a scant
growth of pine or cedars, and on the blooming trees of orchards.
Some species are exceedingly shy, so as to require a heavy charge
of dust-shot to reach them, while others are so tame as to peer
inquisitively into the very face of a collector as he makes his way
through their chosen retreats.

TANAGRIDÆ: TANAGERS.--These strikingly colored birds are usually found
in the woods, occasionally however visiting the open sections. They are
rather shy and retiring in habits, and their presence must be usually
detected by their song.

HIRUNDINIDÆ: SWALLOWS.--Are birds of the open country, and are more
common in the vicinity of settlements than elsewhere. The violet-green
swallow, however, occurs among the cliffs of the Rocky Mountains.

AMPELIDÆ: WAXWINGS.--Are, as a rule, found in the open country in
the vicinity of settlements; and even the Bohemian waxwings occur
abundantly in some of the cities of Utah in winter, feeding upon the
fruit of the ornamental trees.

VIREONIDÆ: VIREOS.--These widely-distributed birds are usually fond of
the woodlands, but the white-eye prefers thickets in swampy places,
while the warbling is seldom found far from settlements; indeed, more
often inhabits trees which grow in the streets of villages than other
sections.

LANIIDÆ: SHRIKES.--Are found in open sections, often in fields, and
on the uninhabited Indian hunting-grounds of Florida. I found the
loggerheads along the borders of the open prairies.

FRINGILLIDÆ: FINCHES, SPARROWS, AND GROSBEAKS.--These are, as a rule,
found mainly in the more open country. The cross-bills, however,
enter thick woods, especially evergreens. The grosbeaks, notably the
rose-breast, prefer the woodlands. The blue sparrows, like the indigo
bird, are found in open fields grown up to bushes. The snow-buntings
occur in open fields and along barren sections of seaboard, while
the sharp-tailed and sea-side finches inhabit the marshes. The grass
sparrows, notably the yellow-winged, Henslow's, and Leconte's, prefer
grassy plains. Last winter I procured all three species of this genus
(_Coturniculus_) on a plantation in Western Florida, securing them all
in three successive shots, a feat which has, I am certain, never before
been accomplished. Many of these grass-haunting birds have to be shot
as they rise from the herbage to fly away, but I found, by persistingly
following a specimen from point to point, that after a time it would
settle in a bush, when I could secure it with my repeating collecting
gun.

ICTERIDÆ: ORIOLES, BLACKBIRDS, ETC.--Orioles prefer, as a rule,
orchards and ornamental trees about dwellings, but they sometimes occur
in the more open woodlands. The marsh blackbirds, like the red-wings
and yellow-headed, prefer wet meadows. The rusty and brewer's are found
in swamps. The crow blackbirds and boat-tailed occur in fields and
along the borders of streams.

CORVIDÆ: CROWS, JAYS, ETC.--These usually occur in the woodlands or
thickets. Crows frequent the seashore in numbers in winter, and may be
secured by exposing meat which is poisoned by strychnine, as they will
frequently eat it during the inclement season. Canada and blue jays
occur in woods, while the Florida and California jays inhabit thickets.

TYRANNIDÆ: FLYCATCHERS.--Are widely distributed species. The
king-birds are found in the more open sections, and the same is true
of the crested flycatchers. The bridge pewee inhabits the vicinity
of dwellings, while the wood pewee occurs in the woods. The least
flycatcher prefers orchards, but the greater portions of the genus
_Empidonax_ are found in woodlands or thickets.

CAPRIMULGIDÆ: GOATSUCKERS.--The whip-poor-wills and chuck-wills-widow
occur in the thick wood, emerging occasionally at night, but seldom
straying from their retreats. A good way to secure these birds is to
note as accurately as possible the point where one begins to sing;
then, on the following evening, conceal yourself near the spot, when
the bird will be seen to emerge from its retreat and alight on some
particular rock, post, or branch, on which it invariably perches, and
utters its song. Then if the bird be too far away to secure at the
time, it may readily be taken another evening by the collector posting
himself nearer. These birds may also be started from their concealment
during daylight, and thus be shot. The night-hawks inhabit the more
open sections, but perch on trees during the day. They may readily be
secured while flying over the fields.

CYPSELIDÆ: SWIFTS.--The white-throated swift occurs among the clefts
of the Rocky Mountains, and is exceedingly difficult to procure. The
well-known chimney swift inhabits chimneys almost everywhere, but, as
it never alights outside of these retreats, must be shot on the wing.

TROCHILIDÆ: HUMMINGBIRDS.--Inhabit as a rule the open country. I have
secured numbers of our ruby-throats on cherry-trees when they were
in blossom, and later, on beds of flowers; and I presume the western
species may be found in similar situations. I shoot them with light
charges of dust-shot, fired from my collecting gun.

ALCIDINIDÆ: KINGFISHERS.--These noisy birds are found plentifully in
the vicinity of streams. They are shy and require a heavy charge of
number eight to bring them down.

CUCULIDÆ: CUCKOOS.--The roadrunner of California, Texas, and
intermediate locality, occurs in the sage bush, but our species
of cuckoos, even the mangrove, inhabit thickets from which they
occasionally emerge. They are usually betrayed by their notes. They are
easily killed, their skin being very thin and tender.

PICIDÆ: WOODPECKERS.--Occur, as a rule, in the woodlands, but the
smaller species and the golden-winged inhabit orchards. They are all
tough birds to kill. They are a generally distributed family, but
some species are confined to certain localities, for example, the
great ivory-billed is not found outside of Florida, and even there,
is confined to a limited area, and very rare. Strickland's woodpecker
has as yet only been found in the United States in a single range of
mountains in Arizona.

PSITTACIDÆ: PARROTS.--Our Carolina paroquet is now exceedingly rare out
of Florida, and then occurs in the neighborhood of cypress swamps, but
occasionally visits the plantations.

STRIGIDÆ: OWLS.--The burrowing owl occurs in the western plains and
in a limited area of Florida. The snowy owl inhabits sand-hills of
the coast in winter, and the short-eared occurs in the marshes, but
all other species are birds of the deep woods, occasionally emerging,
however, especially at night. The great horned and barred may be
decoyed within shooting distance in the spring by imitating their
cries, and the latter-named species will also eagerly fly toward the
collector when he produces a squeaking sound similar to that made by a
mouse. The small owls may be often found in holes of trees.

FALCONIDÆ: HAWKS, EAGLES, ETC.--Marsh hawks occur in fields, meadows,
and marshes. Everglade kites are found on the widespread savannahs of
Florida, while the swallow-tailed Mississippi and white-shouldered are
found on the prairies of the south and west. The buzzard hawks usually
occur in the woods, but during the migrations pass over the fields,
flying high. The fish-hawk is abundant on the seacoast, but also visits
the ponds and lakes of the interior. The duck-hawk is fond of clefts,
and migrates along the seacoast. The sharp-shinned sparrow and pigeon
are often found in solitary trees in fields, where they hunt for
mice, but they also occur in open woods. The bald eagle occurs on the
seashore or on large bodies of water, but the golden eagle prefers the
mountainous regions.

CATHARTIDÆ: VULTURES.--Occur everywhere throughout the south. The great
California vulture is now very rare.

COLUMBIDÆ: PIGEONS.--Are usually found in fields, but the wild pigeon
is often taken in the woods. The ground doves are found in fields which
are bordered with thickets, to which they retreat when alarmed. Two or
three species are found on the Florida Keys, and about as many more in
Texas.

MELEAGRIDÆ: TURKEYS.--Wild turkeys occur in the wilderness of the south
and west. They inhabit open woods as a rule, often roosting at night in
swamps.

TETRAONIDÆ: GROUSE, QUAIL, ETC.--The Canada, ruffled, and allied
species of grouse occur in the woodlands. The prairie sharp-tail and
sage-hen are found on the plains of the west, while the ptarmigans
inhabit the bleak regions of the north. The common quail is widely
distributed throughout the more open country, from Massachusetts to
Texas, and the plumed California and allied species occur in the
southwest, frequenting the thickets of the prairies, or along the
mountain-sides.

CHARADRIDÆ: PLOVERS.--These are, as a rule, maritime birds, especially
during the southward migrations, but many of the species breed in the
interior, and the kildeer and mountain plovers are always more common
on bodies of fresh water. None of the species are, however, found far
from water, but they all alight in dry fields in search of food.

HÆMATOPODIDÆ: OYSTER-CATCHERS AND TURNSTONES.--All these birds inhabit
the seacoast. They occur in oyster-beds or among rocks.

RECURVIROSTRIDÆ: AVOCETS AND STILTS.--Both these species are birds of
the interior, being found in the south and west in the vicinity of
water.

PHALAROPODIDÆ: PHALAROPES.--These singular birds are found off the
coast, often far out at sea during winter, but, oddly enough, breed
in the interior, nesting throughout the northwest and north. They
are, however, occasionally found on the coast during the northward
migration, especially during storms.

SCOLOPACIDÆ: SNIPES, WOODCOCK, ETC.--Woodcock and snipes are usually
found in freshwater swamps, especially in spring. The true sandpipers,
like peep, grass-birds, etc., haunt the pools in marshes or accompany
the sanderlings on the beaches. The godwits are found on the marshes,
as are also red-breasted snipe, but the curlews inhabit hill-tops,
especially during the autumnal migration. I have, however, found the
long-billed curlew on the beaches of Florida. Willets and yellow-legs
occur on the marshes or on the borders of streams.

TANTALIDÆ: IBISES AND SPOONBILLS.--Occur along the borders of streams
and other bodies of fresh water, or on mud-flats in the far south.

ARDEIDÆ: HERONS.--These are widely distributed birds. The true herons
occur along the margins of bodies of water, both on the coast and in
the interior, while the bitterns generally haunt only the fresh water.

GRUIDÆ: CRANES.--Are found on the prairies of the west and south,
frequenting the vicinity of water.

ARAMIDÆ: COURLAN.--The well-known crying-bird is found only in Florida,
inhabiting swamps along the rivers and lakes of the interior.

RALLIDÆ: RAILS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS.--The true rails inhabit very
wet marshes, both salt and fresh, concealing themselves in the grass.
Gallinules and coots are found on the borders of fresh water.

PHOENICOPTERIDÆ: FLAMINGOES.--The flamingo occurs only with us, on
the extensive mud-flats in extreme Southern Florida, where they are
exceedingly difficult to procure, being very shy.

ANATIDÆ: GEESE, DUCKS, ETC.--These are all inhabitants of the water,
being seldom found far from it. Some species, like the teal, prefer
secluded pools in the interior, while the wood-duck and others frequent
woodland streams; and the eiders and marine ducks are abundant in the
waters of the ocean.

SULIDÆ: GANNETS.--Excepting while breeding, these birds keep well out
to sea, and are thus quite difficult to procure. All of the marine
species are liable to be driven inland during severe storms, and the
collector should not fail to take advantage of such circumstances.

PELECANIDÆ: PELICANS.--The brown pelican is a resident of the extreme
southern coast, and may be found on sand-bars or perched on trees in
the immediate vicinity of water. The white pelican is found in similar
localities in winter, but migrates northward during the summer,
breeding in the interior, from Utah to the Arctic regions.

GRACULIDÆ: CORMORANTS.--Occur on sand-bars in the south, or on rocky
cliffs in the north, and on the Pacific coast. During migrations they
keep well out to sea. They have the habit, in common with the gannets
and pelicans, of alighting on barren sand-spits which rise out of the
water.

PLOTIDÆ: DARTERS.--The snake-bird of the south occurs on bodies of
fresh water, and may be seen perched on trees or flying high in air.
They are exceedingly difficult to kill, being, as a rule, shy, and very
tenacious of life.

TACHYPETIDÆ: FRIGATE BIRDS.--The frigate bird is found with us only on
the Gulf of Mexico and among the Florida Keys. They are usually seen
upon wing, but I have observed thousands perched on the mangroves on
the Keys. They roost on the trees on lonely islets at night, at which
time they appear so stupid that they may be approached quite readily.

PHÆTONIDÆ: TROPIC BIRDS.--These fine birds occur only in tropical
waters unless they are accidentally blown out of their latitude by
storms. They breed on the rocky cliffs of the Bahamas and Bermudas.

LARIDÆ: GULLS, TERNS, ETC.--The Skua gulls keep well out to sea, as a
rule, but occasionally enter harbors and bays in pursuit of gulls and
terns, which they rob of their prey. Gulls and terns of the various
species rest on sand-bars or fly along the shore.

PROCELLARIDÆ: PETRELS.--Excepting while breeding, these birds keep well
out to sea and are thus quite difficult to procure. They haunt the
waters which are frequented by fishermen, however, and may be procured
by visiting these localities on some fishing-smack.

COLYMBIDÆ: LOONS.--Are found in both fresh and salt waters, but are
somewhat difficult to procure on account of their habit of diving.

PODICIPIDÆ: GREBES.--These birds have similar habits to those of
the loons, but are found in smaller bodies of water, notably the
Pied-billed, one or more specimens of which occur in almost every
little pool throughout the country, especially during the southward
migration.

ALCIDÆ: AUKS, PUFFINS, ETC.--These birds are found off the coast during
migration, but breed on the rocky shores of both coasts.

Although the foregoing list gives the locality in which a given species
may be found, as a rule, it is always well to bear in mind that
birds have wings, and by the use of them may stray into unaccustomed
localities far distant from their usual habitance. For example, a
burrowing owl was shot on the marshes of Newburyport, and a petrel,
which has hitherto been known to science through a single specimen
which was taken many years ago in the southern hemisphere, was picked
up, in an exhausted condition, in a ploughed field of the interior
of New York. The young collector then should ever be on the alert,
keeping well in mind the fact that the art which he is pursuing is
not lightly learned. I have frequently heard the inexperienced remark
that he could easily kill a hundred birds in a day; and although this
might be true on certain occasions,--for I have seen over this number
killed by one person in two discharges of a gun,--yet, as a rule, a
good collector will seldom bring in over fifty birds during his best
days. A man must not only be experienced, but will be obliged to work
hard in order to average twenty-five birds in a day. Although there are
some "born" collectors who will procure birds, even if they be provided
with no more formidable weapon than a boy's catapult, yet the peculiar
attributes which make up a good collector are mainly to be acquired.
A quick eye to detect a flutter of a wing or the flit of a tail among
waving foliage; an ear ready to catch the slighest chirp heard amid the
rustling leaves, and so skilled as to intrepret the simple gradations
of sound which distinguish the different species; a constant wide-awake
alertness, so that nothing escapes the observation, and which gives
such nice control over the muscles that the gun comes to the shoulder
with a promptitude that combines thought with action; and an unwearying
patience and pluck which totally disregard minor obstacles, are some
of the characteristics which must be possessed by the individual
who wishes to bring together a good collection of birds by his own
exertions. If one does not possess these traits, why, then study to
acquire them; for securing birds is as fine an art as is preserving
them after they are obtained.


SECTION IV.: CARE OF SPECIMENS.--Just as soon as a bird is shot,
examine it carefully by blowing aside the feathers in order to find the
shot-holes; if they bleed, remove the clotted blood with a small stick,
or, better, the point of a penknife, then with a pointed stick, or the
knife, plug the hole with a little cotton, and sprinkle plaster, or
better, some of my preservative, on the spot. Next plug the mouth with
cotton, taking care to push the wad down far enough to allow the bill
to close, for if the mandibles are left open the skin of the chin and
upper throat will dry, causing the feathers to stand upright. Smooth
the specimen lightly and place it, head down, in a paper cone, which
should be long enough to allow folding the top without bending the
tail feathers. Then the bird may be placed in a fish basket, which
is the best receptacle for carrying birds, as it is not only light
to carry, but also admits the air. Never shut a bird up in a close
box in warm weather, as it will spoil very quickly. Care of a bird in
the field will save much labor, and your cabinet specimens will look
enough better to warrant it. Blood left under the plumage gradually
soaks through the feathers, thus causing them to become matted, when
they are exceedingly difficult to clean. Some specimens however, will
bleed, and if they are to be preserved this blood must be removed. I
have always found it best to wash the blood off in the first water I
could find, and then let the bird dry, either by carrying in my hand,
or, by suspending it to a limb of a tree, where I could return for
it afterwards. Care should be taken in such cases, however, to wash
_all_ the blood off, and then plug the wound with cotton, as if any
flows out when the plumage is wet it will spread on the feathers and
stain them. In picking up birds that are only wounded never take them
by the tail, wing, or any part of the plumage, but grasp them firmly
in the hand in such a way as to imprison both wings, then kill them
by a firm pressure of the thumb and forefinger, applied to the sides
just back of the wings. This compresses the lungs, and the birds die of
suffocation almost instantly. Never strike a bird, no matter how large,
with a stick, but in case of hawks, eagles, etc., the talons of which
are dangerous, seize them first by the tip of one wing, then by the
other, work the hands downward until the back is grasped, then apply
the pressure to the lungs. There is no danger from the beak of even the
most formidable species after the pressure is put upon the lungs, for
I never knew a specimen to bite while being killed in this way; the
only thing necessary is to keep out of the way of their talons. I have
frequently been obliged to remove eagles from a box and kill them, and
have done it with my hands alone.

Wounded doves and pigeons should be grasped very firmly, and not
allowed to struggle in the least, as their feathers fall out very
easily; and the same is true, though to a less extent, with cuckoos;
in fact, it is always best to brush the plumage as little as possible,
handling the specimen when dead by the feet or bill. In picking up
white herons or other birds which have fallen in mud or other dirty
water, take them up by the bill and shake them gently to remove the
ooze. The feathers of all birds, especially aquatic species, are
covered with a delicate oil, and all extraneous matter glides off the
plumage if they are not soaked in water. In catching wounded herons,
take them by the beak to avoid the danger of losing an eye from a
lunge of the sharp point. When a bird is to be placed in a basket or
on a bench, do not _throw_ it down, but lay it gently on its back,
always bearing in mind that the smoother a bird is kept before it is
skinned the better it will look when preserved. I have even noticed
that the true ornithological enthusiast always keeps his birds in
good condition, while others who merely shoot birds for the momentary
pleasure of the thing, or for gain, are very apt to handle them
roughly. In other words, the student of nature possesses an innate love
of his pursuits, which causes him to respect even a dead bird.



CHAPTER II.

SKINNING BIRDS.


SECTION I.: ORDINARY METHOD.--The only instruments that I use in
removing the skin of birds ordinarily is a simple knife of a peculiar
form (see Fig. 3); but I like to have a pair of dissecting scissors by
me to be used in cases given further on. I also have plenty of cotton,
and either Indian meal or dermal preservative at hand to absorb blood
and other juices.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.]

To remove the skin from the bird, first see that the mouth is plugged
with cotton, and if it is, note if this be dry, if not remove it and
substitute fresh. It is also well to note if the bird be flexible, for
if rigid it is extremely difficult to skin, and it is always best to
wait until this peculiar rigidity of the muscles, which follows death
in all vertebrate animals, shall have passed. This occurs in warm
weather in much less time than in cold, often in one or two hours, but
in moderate temperature a bird had better lie for at least six hours
after it has been killed. Take then a specimen in the proper condition,
lay it on its back on a bench, on which clean paper has been spread,
with its head from you, but slightly inclined to the left. Now part the
feathers of the abdomen with the left hand, and, excepting in ducks and
a few other species, a space, either naked or covered with down, will
be seen extending from the lower or costal extremity of the sternum
to the vent. Insert the point of the knife, which is held in the left
hand, with the back downward, under the skin near the sternum, and,
by sliding it downward, make an incision quite to the vent, taking
care not to cut through the walls of the abdomen. This can readily be
avoided in fresh birds, but not in specimens that have been softened
by lying too long. The fingers of the right hand should be employed
during this operation in holding apart the feathers. Now sprinkle meal
or preservative in the incision, especially if blood or juices flow
out, in order to absorb them and prevent them soiling the feathers.
Next, with the thumb and finger of the right hand, peel down the skin
on the left side of the orifice, at the same time pressing the tibia on
that side upward. This will disclose the second joint of the leg, or
knee proper. Pass the knife under this joint, and, by cutting against
the thumb, cut it completely off, a matter easily accomplished in small
birds; rub a little absorbent on either side of the severed joint; then
grasping the end of the tibia firmly between the thumb and forefinger
of the right hand, draw it outward. At the same time, the skin of the
leg should be pressed downward by the fingers of the right hand to
prevent tearing. The leg is thus easily exposed, and should be, as a
rule, skinned to the tarsal joint. With the thumb-nail, nip off the
extreme tip of the tibial bone, and strip the flesh off the remainder
of the bone by a downward pull; then give the whole a twist, and cut
all the tendrils at once. Of course the flesh may be removed from the
bone by scraping, etc., but the above is the best method, and in case
of large birds, break the end of the tibia with pliers. Turn the bird
end for end, and proceed the same with the other leg, but during both
operations the bird should not be raised from the bench. Now peel away
the skin about the tail, place the forefinger under its base, and cut
downward through the caudal vertebra and muscles of the back quite to
the skin, the finger being a guide to prevent going through this.
Rub absorbent on the severed portion. Grasp the end of the vertebra
protruding from the body, thus raising the bird from the bench; peel
down front and back by pushing downward with the hand, rather coaxing
the skin off than forcing or pulling it. Soon the wings will appear;
sever these where the humerus joins the coracoid, cutting through the
muscles from above downward in large specimens, thus more readily
finding the joints. Rub on absorbent, and it may be well to remark that
this must be done whenever a fresh cut is made. Then the body is laid
on the bench, and the skin is held in one hand, or, in large specimens,
allowed to rest on the lap or on the bench, but never to dangle.
Keep on peeling over the neck by using the tips of as many fingers
as can be brought into service and soon, the skull will appear. The
next obstruction will be the ears; these should be pulled or, better,
pinched out with the thumb and forefinger nails. Do not tear the ears,
and special care should be exercised in this respect in owls. When the
eyes are exposed, pass the knife between the lids and orbit, close to
the former, taking care that the nyctatating membrane be removed from
the skin, or it will be in the way when the eyelids are arranged in
making the skin. Peel well down to the base of the bill, so that every
portion of the skin may be covered with preservative. Push the point of
the knife under the eyes, and remove them by a single motion, without
breaking them. Cut off the back of the skull at the point shown in the
line A, Fig. 4; turn the head over and make two cuts outward as seen at
A. A., Fig. 5, thus removing a triangular portion of the skull B, Fig.
4, to which the brain will usually adhere, but when it does not, remove
it with the point of the knife. This leaves the eye-cavities open
from beneath. Draw out the wings by grasping the end of the humerus
in the left hand, and press the skin back with the right, to the
forearm; then with the thumb-nail, or back of the knife, separate the
secondary quills which adhere to the larger bone from it, thus turning
out the wing to the last joint or phalanges. Cover the skin well with
preservative, especially the skull, wings, and base of tail; roll up
balls of cotton of about the size of the entire eye removed, and place
in the cavities in such a condition that the smooth side of the ball
may come outward so that the eyelids may be arranged neatly over them.
Nothing now remains but to turn the skin back to its former position.
Turn the wings by gently pulling the primaries and the head, by forcing
the skull upward until the bill can be grasped; then by pulling forward
on this, and working the skin backward with one hand, the matter
will be accomplished, when the feathers may be lightly smoothed and
arranged. It must be borne in mind that the quicker and more lightly
a skin is removed the better the specimen will look. By lightly, I
mean that the skin should not be tightly grasped nor stretched by
pulling. Some workmen will remove a skin from a bird which is nearly
spoiled without starting a feather, while others may skin a specimen
as quickly, but the plumage will be crushed and broken through rough
usage. The time for removing the skin from a small bird should not
exceed six minutes, and I have seen it taken off in half this time. Of
course the beginner will be longer than this; and then the skin should
be occasionally moistened, by using a damp sponge.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]

[Illustration: FIG. 5.]


SECTION II.: EXCEPTIONS TO THE USUAL METHOD OF SKINNING.--In case of
birds which are very soft on account of having been dead a long time,
it may be advisable to open either beneath the wing, making a short
incision along the side or above the wing, cutting along the feather
tracks just above the scapularies; and some skin ducks through a
hole in the back just above the rump. I do not, however, advise such
practice, as a rule, as the skins are more difficult to make up, and
the bird cannot be mounted quite as readily.

Woodpeckers with large heads and small necks, like the pileated and
ivory-billed, and ducks having similar characteristics, as the wood,
pintail, and a few other species; also flamingoes, sand-hill, and
whooping cranes, cannot be skinned over the head in the usual manner,
but the neck should be cut off after the skin has been removed as far
as possible, and then a slit should be cut in the back of the head,
and the head be skinned through this orifice, but an abundance of
absorbent should be used to prevent the feathers from becoming soiled.

Care should be exercised in skinning cuckoos, doves, thrushes, and some
species of sparrows, as the skin is not only thin, but the feathers
start in the rump and back very readily. Peel the skin off gently, and
do not fold it abruptly backward in working on these parts, but hold it
as nearly as possible in its original position. The skin of the wood
duck, and sometimes that of the hooded merganser, adheres to the flesh
of the breast, but it may be separated by working carefully with the
back of the knife. In removing the skins of young birds in the down,
like ducks and gallinaceous birds, do not attempt to skin the wings.

If a specimen is to be mounted with the wings spread, the secondaries
should not be detached, but the knife should be forced down back of
the primaries in order to break up the muscles; then as much of the
flesh as possible should be removed, and a quantity of preservative
pushed in beneath the skin. In larger birds a slit should be made on
the under side of the wing, and the muscles removed from the outside
without detaching the secondaries; and also when a specimen is to be
mounted, the eye cavities should be filled with clay well kneaded to
the consistency of putty.


SECTION III.: ASCERTAINING THE SEX OF BIRDS.--Although the sex of many
birds can be ascertained with tolerable certainty by the plumage, yet
this is never an infallible guide, and to make perfectly sure of every
case the internal organs should be examined. I always advise dissecting
such plainly-marked birds as scarlet tanagers or red-winged blackbirds,
and by practising this habit I was once fortunate enough to discover
a female painted bunting in full male livery. The sex of birds can be
readily ascertained in the following manner: Lay the bird's body on its
left side, with the head from you; then with a knife or scissors, cut
through the ribs and abdominal walls on the _right_ side; then raise
the intestines, and the organs will appear.

In males, two bodies, the testicles, more or less spherical, will be
seen lying just below the lungs on the upper portion of the kidneys
(Fig. 6, 3, 3). These vary not only in color from white to black, but
also in size, depending upon the season or age of the specimen. Thus,
in an adult song sparrow, during the beginning of the breeding season,
the testicles will be nearly or quite a half inch in diameter, whereas
in autumn they will not exceed a number eight shot in size; and in
nestlings of the same species they are not larger than a small pellet
of dust-shot. At this early age, the sex of birds which have become
somewhat soft is quite difficult to determine, and the same is true at
any season if the specimens be badly shot up. There are other organs,
however, in the male. For example, the sperm ducts are always present,
appearing like two white lines; and in the breeding season the plexus
of nerves and arteries about the vent becomes swollen, forming two
prominent tubercles on either side (Fig. 6, 3, 3).

[Illustration: FIG. 6.]

In the female the ovaries lie on the right side (Fig. 7, 2) in about
the same position as is occupied by the testicles in the male. The
ovaries vary in size from that of half the size of an egg to minute
points, depending, as in the male, on the season of the year and age of
the specimen. In very young birds the ovaries consist of a small white
body which under a magnifying glass appears somewhat granular. In both
male and female are two yellowish or whitish bodies, in the former sex
lying above the testicles, but further forward, and consequently just
in front of the kidneys; and in the female they occupy about the same
position. In addition to the ovaries in the female, the oviduct is
always present (Fig. 7, 3), large, swollen, and convoluted during the
breeding season, but smaller and nearly straight at other times. In
young specimens it appears as a small white line.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.]

The denuded breast and abdomen seen in birds during the breeding
season, cannot always be depended upon as a mark of sex, as this
occasionally occurs in males as well as in females.


SECTION IV.: PRESERVING SKINS.--Taxidermists for many years have made
use of arsenic in some form as a preservative; and in the first edition
of my "Naturalists' Guide," I recommended the use of it dry, stating
that I did not think it injurious if not actually eaten. I have,
however, since had abundant cause to change my opinion in this respect,
and now pronounce it a dangerous poison. Not one person in fifty
can handle the requisite quantity of arsenic necessary to preserve
specimens, for any length of time, without feeling the effects of it.
For a long time I was poisoned by it, but attributed it to the noxious
gases arising from birds that had been kept too long. It is possible
that the poison from arsenic with which my system was filled might have
been affected by these gases, causing it to develop itself, but I do
not think that the gas itself is especially injurious, as I have never
been poisoned since I discontinued the use of arsenic.

When I became convinced that arsenic was injuring my health, and that
of others, I began to experiment upon other substances, and after
trying a quantity of various things, have succeeded in manufacturing
a nearly odorless compound which has the following advantages over
arsenic: It thoroughly preserves the skins of birds, mammals, reptiles,
and fishes from decay, and also prevents the attacks of dermestes or
anthrenus, while the feathers of birds and hair of mammals are not
as liable to be attacked by moths as when the skin is preserved with
arsenic. This preservative when properly applied abstracts the oil
from greasy skins, thus preventing them from becoming decayed through
carbonization, as nearly always occurs in ducks' skins after a few
years. It is a deodorizer, all disagreeable smells leaving the skin
to which it is applied; and above all it is not a poison. I used
this dermal preservative, as we have named it, as an absorbent while
skinning birds, especially small ones, as then the plumage is dusted
with it necessarily, which insures more or less protection to the
feathers from the attacks of moths.

To render my preservative, or indeed any other, effective, it must be
thoroughly applied to the skin; all the portions, especially those to
which any flesh adheres, must be well covered with it, and the fibre
of the muscles should be broken up as much as possible. But a small
portion, at best, of arsenic is soluble in either water or alcohol,
and but a little in the juices of the skin, whereas in my dermal
preservative at least three-fourths of that which comes in contact with
a moist skin is absorbed, thus thoroughly preserving the specimen. In
the case of a greasy skin, remove as much fat as possible by peeling it
off or gently scraping until all the little cells which contain the oil
are broken up and the skin appears; then coat the skin liberally with
the preservative, when it will be found to absorb the oil. Allow this
layer to remain a few minutes, then scrape it all off and coat again
with a fresh supply. Continue to do this until all the oil that will
flow out is absorbed, and then dust with a final coating.

There are two chemical processes carried on in preserving oily skins,
one of which converts the oil into soap, and this is in turn absorbed
and dried. Thus the preservative which has been scraped from the skin
can be after a time used again, as it has lost but a small portion of
its efficiency. It might be borne in mind, however, that all the fat
cells possible must be broken up, as the skin which surrounds these is,
in a measure, impervious to the preservative, which must, in order to
absorb oil, come in contact with it.


SECTION V.: OTHER METHODS OF PRESERVING SKINS.--Skins may be
temporarily preserved by simply using black pepper, but the effect is
not lasting. The same is true of tannic acid, but either of these,
alum, or even common salt, will do as a substitute for the preservative
until the skins can be got into the hands of a taxidermist, or until
the collector can procure the proper preservative. I will here mention
that the dermal preservative costs only twenty-five cents per single
pound, and this quantity will preserve at least three times as many
skins as the same amount of arsenic.

A good method by which large skins may be temporarily preserved is
by salting them. Simply coat the inside of the skin with fine salt,
turn it, smooth the feathers and fold the wings neatly, then pack in
paper. The salt prevents the skin from quite drying, and thus it can
be moistened much more readily, and made into a skin or mounted. The
advantage of packing large birds in so small a capacity is obvious to
any one. Two collectors whom we have had out the past season have sent
in some thousand large skins in this condition; and these we shall
endeavor to work up within six months' time, as salted skins become
quite brittle if allowed to lie too long. They should be kept in a dry
place, as salt absorbs moisture, which causes the skin to decay. They
are also liable after the first year to be attacked by dermestes and
anthrenus.

Birds which are in a bad condition through having been dead a long
time may be sometimes skinned, in case of rare specimens, by using
great care. Sprinkle the inside of the skin well with preservative, as
this tends to set the feathers, being a stringent, keeping the skin as
straight as possible, as folding it is liable to loosen the feathers.
The intestines of birds may be removed and the cavity salted when large
birds are to be sent from a distance.



CHAPTER III.

MAKING SKINS.


SECTION I.: CLEANING FEATHERS.--If a bird is bloody, the feathers may
be washed either in turpentine or water. Saturate a rag or piece of
cotton, and clean off the blood, which if dry may require some soaking.
Try to keep the water from spreading as much as possible, but be sure
that every particle of clotted blood is removed and the spot washed
thoroughly. Then dry by covering the spot well with either plaster or
dermal preservative, the latter being preferable as it never bleaches
the plumage. This should be worked well into the feathers with a soft
brush, aided by the fingers, applying a fresh supply constantly until
all the moisture is absorbed; then dust with a soft duster. In case
of grease-spots, if fresh, use the dermal preservative alone, but if
old and yellow use benzine to start the grease, and then dry with
preservative, when it will generally be found that all stains will be
removed; but in some cases two or three applications of benzine may be
necessary. Small spots of dried blood may often be removed from dark
feathers by simply scraping with the thumb-nail, aided by a moderately
stiff brush, much after the manner in which a living bird removes
foreign substances from its plumage. Do not leave clotted spots of
blood in the plumage, as the feathers never lie well over them, and
such places are liable to be attacked by insects, and even a spot of
blood under the wing should, in my opinion, always be removed. Before
any attempt is made either to make a bird into a skin or mount it,
it should be thoroughly cleansed. Stains of dirt may be removed with
alcohol, which dries more readily than water, but it will not start
blood as well as turpentine or water.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.]


SECTION II.: MAKING SKINS OF SMALL BIRDS.--The instruments for
skin-making are a flat brush, a duster for cleansing, three or four
pairs of tweezers of varying sizes (see Fig. 8), needles, curved or
straight as preferred, silk thread for sewing, and soft cotton for
winding, and metal forms made of rolled tin or zinc (Fig. 9). Lay the
skin on its back, and push the single bones left on the forearm into
the skin, then fasten them by taking a stitch through the skin near
the base of the wing; then, passing the thread around the bone, tie
it firmly. Now with the same thread, uncut, sew the other bone in a
similar manner, leaving the two connected by a piece of thread which is
about as long as the natural width of the body of the bird, thus the
wings are kept the same distance apart as they were formerly. Now take
a piece of cotton and form it into a rough body as near as possible
in size to the one removed, but having a tapering neck of about the
length of nature. Now grasp this firmly in the tweezers, and place it,
neck foremost, in the skin, taking care that the point of the tweezers
enters the brain cavity of the skull, so that the cotton may fill it,
and projecting downward, form the throat; now allow the tweezers to
open, and slip them out. Open the eyelids, arranging them neatly over
the rounded cotton beneath. See that the bones of the wing lie along
the sides, as they are liable to become pushed forward in putting in
the cotton. This can be remedied by raising the cotton gently. If the
cotton body has been placed in the proper position the neck will be
full, but not over stuffed, and of just the right length to form a
skin that has the appearance and size of a freshly-killed bird lying
on its back with the head straight. The bill should be horizontal with
the bench on which the bird lies, and from which the specimen should
not be raised while at work on it. Now roll the skin over and examine
the back; see that the wing feathers, especially the scapularies, lie
in regular rotation, and that they have not been pushed one above the
other; and the same attention should be given to the tail. Note if
the feathers of the back lie neatly over the scapularies, and these
in turn, should be over the wing-coverts; in short, all should blend
neatly, forming a smoothly rounded back. Now place the skin, back down,
in the form, lifting, by placing the thumb and forefinger on either
side of the shoulders, which is the proper way to handle a small skin,
even when dry. In placing the skin in the form, care should be used
that the cotton does not slip out of the skull, causing the head to
fall down. See if the tip of the wings are of equal length; if not
make them so by drawing one wing downward, and pushing the other up
toward the head, but do not pull them out of place at the shoulders.
Be careful that the wings are placed high enough on the back. This is
easily ascertained, if the closed tips of the primaries lie perfectly
flat on the bottom of the form with their inner edges nearly downward.
Now smooth the feathers with a pair of tweezers, placing the feathers
of the sides that come below the sparrow's wing inside the wing; above
this they will lie outside. Always bear in mind that although a skin
can be made perfectly smooth by an expert in from eight to fifteen
minutes, one who is not accustomed to the work will be obliged to
occupy a much longer time, as a skin cannot be made too smooth. Arrange
all spots and lines on the feathers as they occur in life, especially
about the head or on the back; in fact, too much attention cannot be
given to these details, before and after a skin is placed in the form,
if one wishes to turn out a first-class specimen.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.]

Now bind the skin with soft cotton thread, used on bobbins in the
mills, beginning at the lower portions of the wings, and winding the
thread over the body and under the form, so that the threads lie about
a quarter of an inch apart, ending with the throat. Now arrange all the
feathers which may have become disarranged under the threads, and place
the skin away to dry where there is no draft, for a slight breeze will
be sure to blow some of the feathers out of place. (For the form of a
skin, see Fig. 10.)

[Illustration: FIG. 10.]

Another method of making skins which may be practised to advantage
is as follows: After the skin is ready to place in the form, wrap it
closely in a _very_ thin layer of nice cotton batting, taking care that
the feathers lie perfectly smooth, although these may be partially
arranged through the cotton, which must be thin enough for the feathers
to be seen through it. The skin is then laid aside to dry without
placing in the form.

Skins should not be exposed to too great artificial heat, neither
should they be left to dry during damp weather in a room without
a fire. Small birds, like warblers, will set perfectly hard in
forty-eight hours in a moderate temperature with dry air. Never allow a
skin to freeze.


SECTION III.: MAKING SKINS OF LONG-NECKED BIRDS.--Sandpipers,
thin-necked woodpeckers, or any birds, the necks of which are liable
to become broken, should have a wire placed in the neck to support and
strengthen it. Proceed in sewing the wing-bones as directed in small
skins; then make a body of cotton around the end of a wire that has
about an inch of the end bent into the form of a hook, and then the
body may be wrapped about the wire with some of the winding cotton.
The neck-wire should project from the body for about the same length
as the natural neck, or a little more. This neck-wire should also be
wrapped with cotton to the size of the natural neck, but rather thicker
where it joins the body. A small portion of this wire which has been
sharpened, as hereafter to be directed, should project beyond the body.
Now place the body in position inside of the skin, forcing the point
of the wire into the skull, up into the base of the upper mandible as
far as it will go. The heads of long-billed birds may be turned on one
side, but in this case the bill will be placed to a greater or less
angle. Sew up specimen as before; arrange and place in a long form and
bind. The legs of such birds as yellow-legs may be stitched together at
the tibial joint, then bent toward the sides, and the toes stitched to
the skin.

In making skins of all birds where the back of the head is opened, the
orifice should not be sewed up until after the wire has been inserted
in the upper mandible, as it may be necessary to add more cotton
through here to make the throat or back of the head as full as in
life. Sew up this orifice by taking fine stitches in only the extreme
edge of the skin, and the same caution must be exercised in sewing up
accidental tears in the skin. Very tender skins may have tears mended
by pasting tissue-paper neatly over the holes from the inside. In fact
it is best to sew up tears from the inside, always using silk thread
for the purpose.


SECTION IV.: MAKING SKINS OF HERONS, IBISES, ETC.--Proceed exactly as
in long-necked birds, but to make a compact skin lay the bird breast
down, and turn the head and neck on the back, and fasten the legs to
the sides. I always wire the necks, and for additional security, to
prevent them being straightened by careless or inexperienced persons,
I stitch the bill to the skin of the back. In addition to sewing on
the inside of the wing, stitch the wing firmly to the inside, by sewing
over the outer primary into a pinch of skin on the side, thus the wing
is fastened in two places.

Ducks' skins may be made in a similar manner, but the feathers of the
side must be brought _over_ the wings, and the webs of the feet may
be spread with a wire, which must be removed, however, when the feet
are dry, or it will rust; and galvanized or brass wire is the best for
making skins.


SECTION V.: HAWKS, OWLS, EAGLES, VULTURES, ETC.--The skins of these
large birds are made in forms, but the wings must be stitched to the
sides, as in herons, etc. The necks must be wired. In making the skins
of all large birds it is best to use bodies made of excelsior or grass,
rather than cotton, which does not make a firm enough body. See remarks
under mounting for instructions for making bodies; but they do not need
to be quite as solid for skins as in mounting; in fact, keep them as
light as possible. Too much care cannot be taken in forming the eyelids
of all birds, especially large ones. Have the cavity occupied by the
eye round, with the cotton lying smoothly inside, and not projecting in
a ragged manner.


SECTION VI.: LABELLING SPECIMENS.--A skin is of little value unless
labelled with date, locality, and sex. Never lay a bird one side
without a label is firmly attached to one foot or other part. The sex
of birds is indicated by the astronomical signs of the planets; Mars
([M]) and Venus ([V]), the former being, as is obvious, the mark for
males and the latter for females. To keep these in mind one has only
to remember, that that of Mars is a conventionalized spear and shield,
indications of his warlike profession, while that of Venus is supposed
to represent a looking-glass, an article so indispensable to feminine
taste. I use blank forms for labels, and the simpler the better; thus,
below is one which I used during my last expedition to Florida:--

              +-----------------------------------+
              |      EXPLORATIONS IN FLORIDA,     |
              |      By C. J. Maynard & Co.,      |
              | 9 Pemberton Square, Boston, Mass. |
              |                                   |
              |_Rosewood, Nov. 10, 1881._      [M]|
              +-----------------------------------+

The sex of either, male or female, is printed, but at least two-thirds
as many males as females are needed; while any notes regarding the
color of feet, bill, and iris of each specimen may be written on the
back. The size given is the one used for specimens from the size of
a humming-bird to that of a golden-winged woodpecker. The labels of
ducks and herons may be attached to the beak by securing through the
nostrils, as then they are more readily found.

It is well to keep in mind that in order to have any value as a
scientific specimen, a bird must be labelled as near as possible with
date, locality, and sex, but never guess at either. If you have a skin
in your possession that you are not absolutely certain about, either
label it with an interrogation mark filling the part of which you
are in doubt, or do not label it at all. Thus if you are unable to
determine the sex satisfactorily, say so by drawing a line through the
sex mark and substituting a query (?).


SECTION VII.: CARE OF SKINS, CABINETS, ETC.--When skins are removed
from the forms they should be dusted with a light feather-duster,
striking them gently from the head downward so as not to ruffle
the plumage. Although skins are well preserved from the attacks of
demestes and anthrenus, which feed upon the skin, yet the feathers
are always liable to be attacked by moths, while the skin on the
feet or bills is also liable to be eaten. This may be prevented by
washing the parts with a solution of bleached shelac dissolved in
alcohol. By far the best way to insure absolute safety is to shut up
the skins in insect-proof cabinets. Various methods have been tried
to prevent the ingress of moths, etc., in cabinets, but the best and
simplest is to have a door fitted to the outside of the drawers of an
otherwise perfectly jointed cabinet. This door is provided with a bead
which surrounds the outside and fits in a groove on the margin of the
woodwork outside the drawers, while the whole door fits in a groove
which extends quite across the bottom. Another method which we practise
on our latest-made cabinets is to have each drawer moth-proof, by
having a margin made all around it which fits into a groove, then all
the drawers are covered by closing a flange on the sides.


SECTION VIII.: MEASURING SPECIMENS.--Specimens of all rare birds should
be measured. With the beginner, it is best to measure every specimen.
I measured some fifteen thousand birds before I made a single skin
without so doing, and now I am careful to take the dimensions of all
rare specimens. The dimensions of a bird are taken as follows, using
dividers and a rule marked in hundredths of the inch: First measure the
extreme length from the tip of bill to end of tail; then the extreme
stretch of wing from tip to tip; then the length of one wing from the
scapular joint to tip of longest quill; next, the length of tail from
end of longest feather to its base at the insertion in the muscles; now
the length of bill along culmen or chord of upper mandibles; and of
tarsus from tarsal joint to base of toes. I have a blank sheet ruled,
and fill it out as per sample (page 62).

CAMPEPHILUS PRINCIPALIS.

    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |     No.      |  1936  |  1937 |  1938 |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |     Sex.     |   M    |   F   |   M   |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |              |Gulf    |       |       |
    |   Locality.  |Hummock,|   "   |   "   |
    |              |    Fla.|       |       |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |    Date.     |Nov. 20,|       |       |
    |              |  1882  |   "   |   "   |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |   Length.    |  20.35 | 19.75 | 21.00 |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |   Stretch.   |  31.00 | 30.00 | 32.00 |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |    Wing.     |   9.30 |  9.00 |  9.60 |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |    Tail.     |   6.35 |  6.25 |  6.50 |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |    Bill.     |   2.75 |  2.65 |  2.80 |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+
    |   Tarsus.    |   1.80 |  1.60 |  2.00 |
    +--------+-----+--------+-------+-------+
    |        |Eye. | Yellow |   "   |   "   |
    |        +-----+--------+-------+-------+
    |Color of|Bill.| Ivory  |   "   |   "   |
    |        |     | white  |       |       |
    |        +-----+--------+-------+-------+
    |        |Feet.|Greenish|   "   |   "   |
    +--------+-----+--------+-------+-------+
    |   Remarks.   |Plumage,|   "   |   "   |
    |              | new    |       |       |
    +--------------+--------+-------+-------+


SECTION IX.: MAKING OVER OLD SKINS.--Sometimes it is desirable in case
of rare birds to make over into presentable skins specimens which have
been improperly prepared. Prepare a dampening box by placing a quantity
of sand, dampened so as to just drip water, in any metal vessel having
a tight-fitting cover. Then wrap the specimen to be made over in paper,
lay it on the sand, and cover with a damp cloth folded several times.
Place the cover on the vessel and set in a moderately warm place for
about twenty-four hours if the specimen be small, longer if large.
At the end of this time the skin will be quite pliable. Then remove
the cotton and examine the inside of the skin carefully, and if there
are any hard places caused by the skin being too thick, scrape them
down with a blunt knife or, better, use our skin-rasp, and thus thin
them down until the feathers above are as flexible as in any other
portion. If there be grease on the feathers or inside of the skin after
scraping, wash with benzine, and dry with preservative as described.
When every portion of the specimen is perfectly pliable, and all
superfluous dried flesh has been removed, sew up the rents, and make
up as in fresh birds, but such skins generally require more careful
binding. It is also often necessary to wire the neck of even small
birds, especially in badly shattered and decayed skins.



CHAPTER IV.

MOUNTING BIRDS.


SECTION I.: INSTRUMENTS.--The instruments necessary for mounting are
cutting pliers (Fig. 12), or tin shears, straight-nosed pliers (Fig.
11), wire of various sizes, tweezers, and other implements used in
skin-making; leg awls, for dried skins, and awls for boring stands;
also stands of various kinds.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.]

[Illustration: FIG. 12.]


SECTION II.: MOUNTING FROM FRESH SPECIMENS.--Be sure that a skin is
perfectly clean in every way before attempting to mount, as it cannot
be washed nearly as well afterwards. Remove all the bodies of skinned
specimens well out of the way, and spread a clean sheet of paper where
the skinning has been done, that there may be no danger of soiling
the plumage. Make a body of fine grass, excelsior, or, better, the
peculiar tough grass which grows in shady places, in sandy soil, is
preferable, by winding with thread, moulding it so as to have it quite
solid, shaping it in the hands until it assumes the exact length and
breadth of the body removed, and as near its form as possible. Thus
see that the back is fuller than the under side, and that there is a
well-defined breast. Great care should be taken not to get this body
larger than the natural one; if anything it should be smaller. With the
pliers cut a piece of wire of the proper size, that is, of about half
the diameter of the bird's tarsus, and about three times the length
of the body. In cutting all wires which are to be sharpened, the cut
should be made diagonally across it, thus forming a point. Push this
wire through the body so that it will emerge in the front much nearer
the back than the breast, protruding so that it equals the length of
the neck and tongue of body removed. Bend over the end remaining at
the back, turn down about half of it and force it into the body (Fig.
13, c). This will hold firmly if the body has been made sufficiently
solid. Wrap the wire with cotton by taking a strip and winding it
gradually so that it assumes a tapering form with a portion of the wire
protruding. Place this body in the skin and push the protruding wire
into the upper mandible. Cut two wires of about half the size of that
already used, and twice the length of the outstretched wing. Work
these into the wings, beginning at the fleshy portion of the phalanges,
so on into the body, taking care not to allow it to pierce through the
skin anywhere. The wire should enter the body at the point where the
end of the lower portion of the forearm touches it when the wing is
folded naturally. Pass the wire through the body diagonally until it
emerges so that it can be grasped with the pliers somewhere near the
orifice, and firmly clenched. Next find the metacarpal bone, which has
a hollow place in the centre (Fig. 14, f), and force the upper end of
the wire through it so that about a quarter of inch shall protrude on
the upper side of the wing, and bend this down by applying one jaw of
the flat pliers on the side of the wing opposite. This will fasten the
wing firmly, and the spurious wing will cover the wire, while that on
the lower side will be concealed by the feathers. The wing should be
outstretched when this is done.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.]

[Illustration: FIG. 14.]

Cut wire for the legs of the same size as used for the neck, and about
as long. Pass them up through the tarsus, inserting in the middle of
the sole of the foot. Be sure the wire is perfectly straight before
attempting this. A good way to straighten wire is to place a pine-board
on the floor, stand on it, and then draw a long pull of wire under
it by grasping the end with pliers; or a small piece of wire may be
straightened by rolling it on the bench with a file. If the skin of
the tarsus splits in boring, it shows that the wire used is either too
large or crooked. After the wire is pushed up to the heel or tarsal
joint (Fig. 15, f), turn the tibial bone out until the point of the
wire appears, when it should be grasped and drawn up so that the point
protrudes slightly beyond the tibial joint. Wrap the tibial bone, wire
and all, with cotton or tow (in large specimens, the wire should be
bound to the bone with fine wire or thread) so as to form a natural
leg, then draw it back into the skin. Next force the wire through the
body at the point where the knee touches it, or about midway on the
side. The wire will emerge on the opposite side. Turn down the skin of
the orifice, draw the wire out, leaving about enough projecting out of
the sole of the foot to go through the perch of a stand and clench;
then fasten the end firmly into the body. On large birds, like eagles,
I draw the wire through the body twice before clenching, to make all
secure. This work must be well done if the bird is to be mounted
nicely, as it must stand firmly on its feet. As a rule, use wire large
enough, at least, to support the weight of the body and skin without
bending, but wire one-half the size of the tarsus is generally large
enough to do this. Cut a tail-wire which is at least as long as the
entire bird. Insert it under the tail, so that it enters the muscles in
which the feathers are embodied, taking care that it does not spread
them apart; push this up the centre of the body so that it will emerge
at an angle just at the upper portion of the orifice, and clench it.
Bend the remaining end under the tail twice, so as to form a T, on
which the tail may rest, and which should, however, have the top broad
enough to spread the tail on to the required width. During wiring see
that the plumage is ruffled as little as possible; also avoid soiling
by keeping the specimen on clean paper. If by chance the feathers
become greasy, they may be cleaned by sprinkling liberally with the
dermal preservative, which is afterward brushed off.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.]

Sew up the orifice neatly, taking care, as before described, only to
take in the extreme outer edge of the skin; and, if the body be not too
large, it will meet nicely. If the body has not been made quite large
enough, especially on the breast, some cotton may be placed between the
skin and body before sewing. This must be done neatly, with tweezers
however, not so as to form a wad, but spread out so as to blend neatly
with the curve of the body. Now place the wires which protrude from the
feet in holes bored in the perch of the stand, which should be about
as far apart as the bird naturally stands while perching. See that
the feet come well down on the perch with the toes arranged properly,
remembering that cuckoos, woodpeckers, etc., have two toes in front
and two behind, while with hawks, owls, etc., the outer toe generally
stands at right angles with the others, and should therefore grasp the
end of the stand. Either twist the ends of the wire together or wind
them around the stand very firmly. Now comes the most difficult part of
the task of mounting. Hitherto all has been merely mechanical; certain
rules had to be observed only. But now the instructor must pause for
want of words wherewith to express his meaning, for who can tell an
artist how to put in those bold and hasty strokes with which he maps
out his picture? He knows just what he is about, however, for he has
before his mental vision the complete picture, and strives to place on
canvas that which appears before him. So must the artistic taxidermist
have before him a vision of the bird he wishes to represent, with the
combined mass of feathers now in hand. Whether lightly poised for
flight or calmly sitting at rest, before he puts his hand to the work
before him let him fully decide what he wishes to produce. Let him
see it just as clearly as he sees the birds sporting in their natural
element. The true artist does not copy what the imagination of others
have produced, he invents for himself or takes nature as his guide. Let
us then who aspire to the highest in taxidermal art, take infallible
nature as our guide. Study carefully every poise of the birds,
every uplifting of the wing, every turn of the head or motion of the
eyelids. I have long made a practice of keeping birds in confinement
in order to thoroughly impress on my mind the different attitudes
which they assume. I have had nearly all species of our owls, hawks,
and eagles, and have kept herons, gulls, terns, pelicans, auks, and
almost countless numbers of smaller birds, and in this way I have
become so familiar with them that I can tell at a glance whether a bird
is mounted in an easy attitude. Well, there must be no hesitation in
mounting birds, or the specimens will dry; and I will merely state in
what order I arrange the different members, then leave the attitudes to
my pupils. I first see that the bird stands correctly, that the legs
are bent so that the bird will balance well in the position in which
I wish it to be placed. As a rule, a perpendicular line drawn through
the back of the head of a perching bird will fall through its feet
(see Fig. 16, _a a_). Now bring the bird into position, and fold the
wings just as the bird does it. Note if the scapularies, tertiaries,
and secondaries lie in their proper places, the first highest and the
others under them, which will give the bird a good rounded back. Now
place the bird in the proper attitude, with the neck properly bent,
remembering that in nearly all birds this nearly assumes the form of
the letter S, especially in long-necked species. I do not like to see
a bird staring straight forward, but, as this is a mere matter of
fancy, I will not presume to dictate regarding attitudes, only make
the specimen look easy. Be artistic, even if the specimen is going
into a public museum, where birds too often stare at the visitors in
grotesque attitudes. One can be interesting and easy even in writing
on the driest scientific subject,--why not then give ease and grace to
our museum specimens? No more room need be occupied; a slight turn of
the head, a twist of the neck, or an advance of a foot, will do this
just as a bird would do it if it were alive. Now place the eyes in
position, and these should be pushed well into the clay, and the lids
arranged over them naturally with a needle. Do not have the eyes too
large, as it gives the bird a staring expression, nor too small, but
as near as possible to the natural ones removed. It would be well in
ordering eyes from a dealer to give the measurements of the required
eye in hundredths of an inch. A good colored eye should not, in my
opinion, have too much clear or flint glass in front of the pupil.
This should be thinner and thus flatter, as seen in eyes of German
manufacture. In point of perfect coloring, French eyes are the best
and most expressive, but they do not have the requisite flatness and
the thinness of flint which the German eyes possess. English eyes may
be mentioned as third in the catalogue of quality, while America must
unfortunately come last. The above remarks, however, are true only as
regards colored eyes, as black eyes are almost always good, no matter
where manufactured.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.]

After the bird is placed in the required attitude, smooth the feathers
with the aid of small tweezers, noting that all lines and spots are in
their proper places. The primary quills should be kept in position by
clamping with fine wire; that is, a piece of wire should be bent on
itself like a hairpin and slipped over the edge of the wing. Spread
the tail by laying it on the cross-piece of wire under it, and clamp
it down with a piece of very fine wire, which is wound around each end
of the cross-piece. If the tail is to be spread very widely then run
a wire through the two outer quills, thus keeping them apart; though
even then the clamp should be used. If a convex or concave tail is
desired, bind the cross-piece in a corresponding manner. I do not, as
a rule, recommend binding freshly-skinned birds, nor do I consider it
necessary excepting in instances where feathers are rough. If a bird be
properly mounted a few more clamps on the wings will keep it in form;
then the feathers can be made to stand out as they do in nature, not
lie down close to the body as if the birds were badly frightened. This
is particularly noticeable with owls; a perfectly happy and contented
owl, who is pursuing his vocations, has apparently a body nearly or
quite twice the diameter of one that is frightened.


SECTION III.: CRESTED BIRDS.--If a bird has a crest it should be raised
by gently pulling forward the skin, where it will remain in position
after it is neatly arranged; but in case of a dried skin, it may be
necessary to prop the crest up with a piece of cotton, moulded on the
head of a pin, the point of which is sunk into the head.


SECTION IV.: MOUNTING WITH WINGS SPREAD.--In skinning for spread
wings, leave in the humerus as well as the forearm, and do not detach
the quills, as already mentioned. Wire the wing from the inside, and
clench firmly in the body; wrap the humerus to the natural size with
cotton, after fastening the supporting wire to the bone with fine wire
or thread. Push both wires into the shoulders of the artificial body at
once, at the same time pushing the neck-wire and body into position.
This can be learned by practice. Proceed as before, but support the
wings while setting on either side by long wire clamps. Be sure,
however, that the supporting wire is strong enough to hold the wing in
position without these, and thus when the wings are dry they will be
very strong.


SECTION V.: MOUNTING BIRDS FOR SCREENS, ETC.--Proceed as in specimens
with wings spread, but sometimes the wings should be cut off, sewed on
on opposite sides, so that they may be reversed; that is, the back of
the wing may be toward the breast in cases where it is desired that
the back of the wings and breast should show. It is usual to stretch
the wings up over the head, which emerges between them. The wings had
better be kept in position with strips of pasteboard fastened together
with wire. Sometimes both sides of the specimen show; or, in other
instances, the back is covered with paper, silk, velvet, or other
material.


SECTION VI.: MOUNTING DRIED SKINS.--Soften as directed in making over
dried skins, observing the caution given under that section, and have
the skin very pliable. The cavities of the eyes may be filled from the
mouth or from the inside of the skin. If the skin be too tender to
turn, rasp it down by working through the orifice. Mount as directed
in fresh specimens, but dried skins almost always require to be bound
with winding cotton in order to keep the feathers in place. They also
require rather more harder filling with cotton. This should be wrapped
around the bird in as continuous a string as possible until all the
feathers lie smoothly. They may be arranged under the bindings with
small tweezers. Avoid binding too closely or too tight, and above
all things bind evenly, that is, do not make depressions nor allow
elevations to appear, for, as a rule, these will always remain after
the bindings have been removed. Small birds should be allowed to stand
at least a week in a dry place before the bindings are removed. Birds
mounted from skins dry more quickly than from fresh specimens. Large
birds should stand from two weeks to a month, especially if the wings
be spread. To remove the binding threads, cut down the back, thus
taking it all off at once.


SECTION VII.: PRICES FOR MOUNTING BIRDS.--For the convenience of
amateurs, who do not always know what price to put on good work, we
give our price list for mounting specimens on ornamental stands. Size
from humming-bird to robin, one dollar and twenty five cents; robin to
wild pigeon, one dollar and fifty cents; wild pigeon to grouse, two
dollars; grouse, ducks, small owls, two dollars and fifty cents; large
hawks and medium-sized owls, three dollars and fifty cents; loons and
large owls, five dollars; eagles, seven dollars. For birds with spread
wings, add thirty-three and one-third per cent.


SECTION VIII.: PANEL WORK.--GAME PIECES, ETC.--Panel work is made
by using only half of a specimen, the back side being turned in or
removed. The specimen is mounted as usual and fastened to the picture
or other design used as a back ground, by wires emerging from the
side and firmly clenched in the body. Game pieces are made by simply
mounting the specimen, then placing it in an attitude as if it were
hanging dead. Much skill and study is required for work of this nature,
for if carelessly done, it has the effect of a poor painting, but if
well completed both panel and game pieces produce a pleasing effect.
All such work should be usually placed behind glass, as, in fact, is
true with all mounted birds, especially light-plumaged birds, which are
liable to become soiled through exposure to dust. Mounted birds, not
kept in moth-proof cases, should be carefully dusted at least twice a
week to prevent the attacks of moths.



CHAPTER V.

MAKING STANDS.


SECTION I.: PLAIN STANDS.--The best stands for the cabinet are simple
wooden ones, either of pine or other woods, turned by machinery with
a simple cross-piece for perching birds. As a rule, the shaft should
be about as high as the cross-piece is long, but in cases of specimens
with long tails, the shaft should be somewhat higher, while the base
should a little exceed in diameter the length of the perch, and should
be about as thick as the shortest diameter of the other parts.


SECTION II.: ORNAMENTAL STANDS.--Papier-maché used for making
ornamental stands is quite difficult to make, but following is the
receipt: Reduce paper to a perfect pulp by boiling and then rubbing
through a sieve. To every quart of this pulp add a pint of fine
wood-ashes and a half pint of plaster. Heat this mass over the fire,
and to every quart add a quarter of a pound of glue, which has been
thoroughly dissolved in a glue-pot. Mix well until it is of the
consistency of putty, when it is ready for use.

In making a twig for an ordinary perch, fasten a moderately stout wire
in a wooden base; wind it with cotton, larger at the base, tapering
toward the end; bend it in a position and cover with a layer of
papier-maché, then with a comb indicate the ridges in the bark of a
tree, and add knots and excrescences as desired, by moulding small
pieces with the fingers. Set aside to dry for a few days. If the
papier-maché cracks it does not contain a sufficient quantity of glue,
or if it shrinks too much, more ashes or plaster should be added. When
dry paint with water-colors, made by adding dry paint to dissolved
white glue, stirring until the mixture becomes of the consistency of
cream. A quarter of a pound of glue will take up a pound of paint.
Cover the bottom of the stand with this paint, or with some other
color, then sprinkle profusely with smalt or mica sand. When dry, add
artificial leaves to the branches by winding the stems around them.
Trim the bottom of the stand with mosses and grass fastened on with
glue. Stands for cases are made in a similar manner, but it is an
improvement to touch the ground-work here and there with dry paint
of various colors. A piece of looking-glass may be used to imitate
water; and ducks from which the lower portions have been cut away may
be placed on this with a good effect. A very good stand may be made
by simply winding a wire with cotton and painting the cotton. The
cotton can be made into a species of papier-maché by soaking it in
flour-paste. Rock work is made of either papier-maché, cork, blocks
of wood, or pieces of turf painted and sanded, or by pasting stout
paper over pieces of wood, and the whole structure painted and sanded.
If papier-maché be used the effect may be heightened by sticking in
pieces of quartz or other rock. Natural stumps, branches, etc., may
be manufactured into stands or cases to advantage; in short, with the
aid of papier-maché, glue, moss, grasses, smalt, etc., nature may be
imitated in a variety of ways.



PART II.--MAMMALS, REPTILES, ETC.



CHAPTER VI.

COLLECTING MAMMALS.


Mammals are, as a rule, much more difficult to procure than birds,
especially the smaller species. Mice occur in all localities. The
white-footed mice are often found in the deserted nests of squirrels
or of crows in the tree-tops. Jumping-mice are found in the meadows,
under haycocks or in nests deep in the earth during winter, at which
time they are in a dormant condition. Field-mice of several species
occur in the meadows, where they have nests, while the house-mouse and
several species of mice inhabit dwellings. All these little rodents
may be trapped by using a variety of bait, and the same is true of
squirrels, which are, however, quite easy to shoot. The gray, red, and
flying-squirrels live in nests placed in bushes or trees or in holes
in tree-trunks. Shrews and moles burrow in the ground, and they may be
snared by setting fine wire nooses in their holes. Cats often bring in
these little mammals and leave them lying around, as they rarely eat
them. A pit dug in an open field or a barrel set down with the top on
a level with the ground and half filled with water will be the means
of capturing many rare, small mammals which fall into it accidentally.
Mink, weasel, otter, rabbits, skunks, etc., may be trapped or shot. A
variety of bait may be used to decoy animals of this class, and the
contents of the scent-bags of any of these species are good; as well
as fish, birds, or small mammals. Foxes, wolves, etc., which occur
in the wilder sections, may be shot or trapped, and the same is true
of wild-cats, pumas, and other large mammals, in procuring which the
hunter must be guided by circumstances.



CHAPTER VII.

MAKING SKINS OF MAMMALS.


SECTION I.: SKINNING SMALL MAMMALS.--Lay the animal on its back,
make an incision about one-third of the length of the body on the
under side of the body from the vent forward, peel down on either side
until the knee-bones are exposed, then cut the joint and draw out the
leg, at least as far as the heel. Remove the flesh, cover well with
preservative, and turn, then proceed thus with the opposite leg. Pull
down to the tail and draw out the bone by placing a stick on the under
side of it and pressing backward. If the tail bone does not readily
come out, as in musk-rats, wrap the tail in cloth and pound it with
a wooden mallet, and it will then come out without further trouble.
Peel down on either side until the front legs appear, cut off at elbow
joints, and draw these out; remove the flesh, cover with preservative,
and turn. Skin over the head, taking care to cut off the ear next the
skull, so as not to cut through into the exterior surface; pull down
the edges, cut between the lids and eye-sockets down to the lips, cut
between these and the bone, but near the latter, thus removing the
skin entirely from the skull; cover the skin well with preservative,
after removing all fat and surplus bits of flesh. Then turn the skin,
detach the skull from the body, by carefully cutting between the atlas,
the last vertebra joint, and the skull. The skull should be boiled to
remove all the flesh and brain; or, if this cannot readily be done,
and if the mammal be very small, roll it in preservative, and lay it
one side; if the animal be large, cut off all the flesh possible, and
work out the brain through the opening in the base of the skull. It is
always, however, best to remove the flesh by boiling; after which care
should be taken to tie the lower jaw firmly to the upper.


SECTION II.: SKINNING LARGE MAMMALS.--Large mammals should be skinned
by making a cross incision down the entire length of the breast,
between the fore-legs to the vent, then down the under side of each
leg quite to the feet. Remove the skin but leave in two bones and the
joints in each leg. In removing the horns of a deer or other ruminant,
make cross cuts between the horns, and then back down on the neck for
a short distance. The lips of a large mammal should be split open
carefully, and the ears turned out quite to the tip; this can be done
with a little practice. Cover with preservative, well rubbed in, and
dry as quickly as possible without tearing.


SECTION III.: MAKING SKINS OF MAMMALS.--Remove all blood and dirt, by
either washing or by continuous brushing with a stiff brush. Dry off
with preservative: rub it well into the hair. Draw out the bones of the
leg, wrap them well with cotton to the original size of the leg; then
fill out the head to the size and form of life, sewing up the neck, and
fill up to the body to the size of nature with cotton or tow. Sew up
the orifice, then lay the skin, belly down, with the feet laid neatly;
and if the tail is long, lay it over the back.

Mice and other small mammals should not have the bone of the tail
removed, as the skin cannot be filled and turned over the back easily.
Large mammals may be also made up if they are to be used for cabinets
or for skins.


SECTION IV.: MEASURING MAMMALS.--It is quite as easy to measure mammals
as birds. The dimensions to be taken may be seen by the accompanying
filled blank, which is the form I always use.

Arctomys monax.

    +-------------------------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |             Locality.               |Ipswich |   "   |     "     |
    +-------------------------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |               Age.                  | Adult  |   "   |     "     |
    +-------------------------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |               Sex.                  |   M    |   F   |     F     |
    +-------------------------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |               Date.                 |  1868. |       |           |
    |                                     |Aug. 22 |  " 20 |   " 13    |
    +-------------------------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |               No.                   |   58   |   55  |    43     |
    +--------------+----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |         Eye.         |  1.50  |  1.57 |   1.32    |
    |              +----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |         Ear.         |  2.95  |  2.80 |   2.94    |
    |              +----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |   Nose to    |       Occiput.       |  2.30  |  3.45 |   3.45    |
    |              +----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |     Root of Tail.    | 13.00  | 15.50 |  15.25    |
    |              +----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |Outstretched Hind Leg.| 15.00  | 20.15 |  19.50    |
    +--------------+----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |    End of Vertebra.  |  4.98  |  4.50 |   5.45    |
    |   Tail to    +----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |     End of Hair.     |  6.00  |  6.75 |   7.60    |
    +--------------+----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |       Hind Leg.      |  3.10  |  2.80 |   2.95    |
    |              +----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |    Hand      |        Length.       |  2.10  |  1.85 |   2.05    |
    |              +----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |        Width.        |   .78  |   .92 |    .70    |
    +--------------+----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |          Height of Ear.             |   .85  |   .75 |    .65    |
    +-------------------------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |             Muzzle.                 |   .20  |   --  |    .15    |
    +-------------------------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |             Girth.                  |   --   | 14.50 |   9.75    |
    +--------------+----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |        Length.       |   --   |   --  |    --     |
    |  Skull.[*]   +----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |              |        Width.        |   --   |   --  |    --     |
    +--------------+----------------------+--------+-------+-----------+
    |            Remarks.                 | Light  |   "   |Top of     |
    |                                     |colored.|   "   |head black.|
    +-------------------------------------+--------+-------+-----------+

* This measurement is taken after the animal is skinned; the width of
skull is measured on the widest part, the length on the longest part.



CHAPTER VIII.

MOUNTING MAMMALS.


SECTION I.: SMALL MAMMALS.--Skin as directed, but the skull should not,
as a rule, be detached unless the animal be large enough to have the
lips split. The eye cavities should also be filled with clay. Cut a
piece of wire of the suitable size to support the head; have it about
twice as long as the head and body of the specimen in hand. Wind up a
turn or two with the pliers small enough to enter the cavity in the
base of the skull, which will have to be enlarged to admit of the ready
removal of the brains. Place the wound portion of the wire in this
cavity, and fill in around it with either plaster of paris, or tamp in
excelsior, tow, or cotton firmly enough to hold the skull perfectly
firm on the wire. Wind up a body of excelsior or grass, as nearly the
form and size of the one removed as possible, taking care that the neck
be of proper shape, and that the surface be very smooth.

This surface may be covered with a thin layer of clay or of
papier-maché, if a very nice smooth surface is required, in case of
short-haired mammals. Cut four wires for the legs and one for the tail.
Run the wire up the front legs, and tie them firmly to the bone with
fine wire, especially at the joints. Now wind each leg with cotton,
hemp, or tow to the size and form of the muscles removed. In order to
get the legs very exact, one may be wound before the muscles of the
other be removed, and measurements may thus be taken. The legs may be
also covered with papier-maché or a thin layer of clay in short-haired
mammals. Now place the body in position, taking care that the wire of
the head goes the entire length of the body, and is firmly clinched.

The wires of the front legs should enter the body at the proper point
on the shoulder. The wires of the hind legs should also enter the body
at the point near the back, where they join the natural body. Run a
wire the entire length of the tail and fasten in the lower end of the
body. See that all wires are firmly clinched, and sew up the orifice.
Bend the legs into as natural a position as possible, and insert the
wires protruding from the soles of the feet into the holes in the stand
or perch; bend the body in position, insert the eyes, arranging the
lids carefully over them, taking care the eye has the proper form in
the corners.

Arrange the eyelids and ears by occasionally moulding them into form
as they dry. Smooth the tail carefully and attend to all the little
details, such as spreading the toes etc., etc., and carefully watch
them from day to day, until the animal becomes perfectly dry.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.]


SECTION II.: LARGE MAMMALS.--In drawing the lines between mammals
mounted as described above and the present method, it may be well to
remark that the one now given is the best in all cases, but requires
rather too much time to be used with very small specimens. Have five
large wires or bolts of a suitable size to support the mammal mounted,
cut to the proper length, and cut a screw on either end for about two
inches (Fig. 17, _a_). Screw a broad flat nut on (Fig. 17, _b_), then
have another nut ready to screw on above the first. Prepare a strip
of board a little shorter than the natural body of the mammal, and in
this bore four holes, two at each end, with one extra between the two,
but a little back of them on the front end. After bending the bolts
so as to form the legs, place the ends in the holes and screw on the
nuts, place the lower ends of the irons in the holes in the stand and
screw on the nuts, thus the beginning of the structure will stand firm.
Fasten the end of the fifth iron firmly in the brain cavity by filling
in with plaster, or wedging in pieces of wood, and screw the lower
end in place. Now wind excelsior on the legs to the proper size and
form; cover it with a thin layer of cotton. Then place on the body in
sections of excelsior of exactly the form and size of life, and cover
with clay. The neck is now to be formed in the same way; of course
to get all the parts accurate, one must have the natural body, which
has been removed, at hand, or should have the correct measurement of
it. The skin, from which the leg bones have been removed quite to the
toe-nails, may be fitted on occasionally to judge the effect. Procure
sheet lead, and, if too thick, beat it out; cut it in the form of the
cartilage removed from the ear. Fasten wire into these pieces of lead
with the ends protruding downward; bore holes in the skull into which
the ends are introduced, thus forming the support, and keeping the ears
in proper position. Supply the muscles of the skull with excelsior and
clay or papier-maché, then adjust the skin firmly and sew up. Fill
the lips and nose with papier-maché or clay, and mould into shape.
The above instructions, if followed, will give a mounted specimen,
but I cannot convey the ideas which must teach the student the exact
poise, the swell of the muscle, the exact shape of the eye which will
give life and beauty to the subject in hand; all these must come from
patience, study, and long practice, for skilful taxidermists do not
spring at once into existence, but require experience and careful
education.


SECTION III.: MOUNTING DRIED SKINS OF MAMMALS.--Skins of mammals must
be soaked in a strong solution of alum water, and when perfectly soft
see that the parts above the lips, eyes, etc., are peeled down quite
thin, and that every portion of the skin is perfectly pliable, then it
should be moistened as described.


SECTION IV.: MOUNTING MAMMALS WITHOUT ANY BONES.--If the skull of a
mammal be desired for a skeleton, a cast may be taken of the entire
head before the flesh is removed, by placing the head in a box
which will contain it and leave a space around it; pour in plaster
of paris to the consistency of cream, until the head is about half
covered--which should be placed on the bottom of the box, lower jaw
down--let the plaster set; now cover the top surface of the plaster
with paint, or oil, or paste paper over it. Then fill up the box with
fresh plaster: after this has set well remove the side of the box
and open the mould where the joint was made with the paint or paper.
Take out the head, and then cut a hole in the mould at the base of
the skull, in which the plaster for the head may be poured. Paint
or oil the inside of the mould everywhere, fit the pieces together,
then tie firmly and pour in the plaster for the mould; then insert
the bolt for the head in the hole, and let the plaster set around it.
Remove the mould by chipping off pieces with a chisel until the paint
surface is exposed. If the head be large and heavy, a large ball of
excelsior, in which the bolt is firmly fastened, may be placed in the
centre, but this must be covered with a thin layer of clay to make it
impervious to plaster. The lips and other naked spaces must be painted
the color of life, with paint mixed with varnish, first filling out the
imperfections with paraffine wax. Casts may be taken of the larger in
wax, making a mould in plaster.



CHAPTER IX.

MOUNTING REPTILES, BATRACHIANS, AND FISHES.


Mounting reptiles, batrachians, and fishes as collected in this
department is scarcely a part of taxidermy. I shall only give general
instructions regarding mounting some species. Snakes may be readily
skinned by cutting a longitudinal insertion about a fourth of the
distance down from the head on the lower side where the body begins
to enlarge, near its greatest diameter; then the skin may be speedily
taken off both ways. When the vent is reached the skin comes away
harder, but in order to make a perfect piece of work it must be skinned
quite to the end of the tail, even if it splits open; the eyes must be
removed from the inside of the head. The skin on the top of the head
cannot be removed in this class of animals, leaving the jaw and skull.
Cover well with preservative, and turn the skin. To mount, two ways
are practised, one with plaster, in which the orifice on the inside
and the vent are sewed up, and the plaster poured into the mouth until
the snake is filled. It is well, however, to place a copper wire the
entire length of the animal to strengthen it; then before the plaster
is set, place the snake in the proper attitude. This kind of work
requires practice, as you must be careful of the attitude in which you
wish to place the animal, as the plaster begins to set quite quickly;
to make it set more slowly, however, mix in a little salt. The mouth
should be filled up with clay or plaster. Care should be taken that
water does not accumulate in any portion of the skin, and it should be
perforated with an awl occasionally to allow the water to escape. The
skin of a snake may be filled with papier-maché by working small pieces
downward; then insert a wire and place into position. The skin requires
some time to dry, and in both cases place the mounted reptile in a dry
place, where it will rapidly dry, as the skin is liable to decay if
kept in a damp place.


SECTION I.: MOUNTING LIZARDS, ALLIGATORS, ETC.--Reptiles of this
description should be skinned like mammals, through a longitudinal
insertion made in the abdomen. The skin from the top of the head cannot
be removed however. In mounting, proceed exactly as in mammals, but as
there is no hair to hide defects, all cotton, excelsior, etc., wound
on the bones must be very smooth. The attitudes of all this class of
animals are apt to be stiff and ungainly even in life; but by putting a
bend or two into the tail, turning the head, or slightly curving the
body, too much rigidness may be avoided.


SECTION II.: MOUNTING TURTLES.--To remove the skin from a turtle, cut
away a square portion of the under shell, using a small saw for this
purpose. Then remove the softer portion through this hole, and draw
out the legs and head as in mammals; but the top of the head cannot be
skinned over. In mounting proceed as nearly as possible as in mammals,
only the legs may be filled with clay or plaster in small specimens.
Care should be taken not to fill the skin too full; but let the
wrinkles show, as seen in life, and imitated as nearly as possible.

The shell of the soft-shelled turtle, like the leather-back, is quite
difficult to keep in good condition--is apt to become distorted in
drying. The only method which has occurred to me is to cover the body,
and exposed under portions, with layers of plaster, which will keep the
shell in position until it is dry, when it may be removed.


SECTION III.: MOUNTING FISHES.--Fishes are quite difficult to skin,
especially those with scales. In flat fishes I remove a portion of
one side, skinning the other; then, in mounting, lay the animal on
its side. Mounting in this case means filling the fish to its natural
life-size with cotton, tow, or other available material. Plaster
or clay will also answer. The fins may be pinned out flat against
pasteboard, or put in place with fine wire.

In skinning larger fishes, or those which have no scales, or scaled
fishes which have cylindrical shaped bodies, open from beneath by
cutting nearly the whole length of the body. The skin from some fishes
comes off easily, while in others it is more difficult to remove. In
mounting large fishes use a hard core to the body, made of either wire
or wood. The fins should be wired from the inside; care should be taken
that the skin lies smoothly over the surface beneath, as it shows
considerably in drying, and all imperfections around it.

In preserving the skins of all reptiles and fishes the dermal will be
found excellent, especially in removing the oil from the skins, etc.
Cover well with the preservative, and nothing more will be necessary.
Skins of this class of animals may be kept for future mounting by
simply coating with the preservative, and kept turned wrong side out
without filling. When they are to be mounted throw them into water, in
which a small quantity of dermal has been dissolved. When they are soft
turn and mount as in fresh skins.



INDEX.


A.

Alaudidæ, 14

Alcidæ, 26

Alcidinidæ, 15

Alligators, 98

American warblers, 14

Ammunition for repeating guns, 10

Ampelidæ, 15

Anatidæ, 24

Aramidæ, 23

Ardeidæ, 23

Arsenic a dangerous poison, 49

Ascertaining the sex of birds, 43

Auks, 26

Avocets, 22


B.

Batrachians, 97

Basket for collecting birds, 29

Bird lime, 6

Birds, 1

Box-trap, 1

Blackbirds, 16

Breech-loading guns, 8

Burrowing owl, Newburyport, Mass, 27


C.

Cabinets, 59

Caprimulgidæ, 17

Care of skins, 59

Care of specimens, 28

Catching wounded birds, 31

Cathartidæ, 21

Charadridæ, 22

Chamæidæ, 13

Cinclidæ, 13

Clap-net, 2

Cypselidæ, 18

Collecting birds, 1

Collecting mammals, 84

Collectors, 27

Columbidæ, 21

Colymbidæ, 26

Coots, 24

Cormorant, 25

Corvidæ, 17

Coturniculus, 16

Courlans, 23

Cranes, 23

Crested birds--mounting, 76

Crows, 17

Cuckoos, 19

Cuculidæ, 19

Cuts of the skull, 37

Cutting-pliers, 64


D.

Darters, 25

Dermal preservative, 45

Dried skins, mounting, 78

Drying forms, 51

Ducks, 24

Ducks' skins, 57

Dusting birds, 80


E.

Eagle as decoy, 6

Eagles, 20

Ever-ready bird-trap, 3

Exceptions to the usual method of skinning, 39


F.

Falconidæ, 20

Falcons, 20

Finches, 16

Fishes, 97

Form for measurements of mammals, 89

Flycatchers, 17

Frigate birds, 25

Fringillidæ, 16


G.

Gallinules, 24

Gannets, 24

Game pieces, 79

Geese, 24

Goatsuckers, 17

Graculidæ, 75

Grebes, 26

Grosbeaks, 16

Grouse, 21

Gruidæ, 23

Gulls, 26


H.

Hæmatopodidæ, 22

Hawk as decoy, 5

Hawks, 20

Herons, 23

Herons' skins, 24

Hirundinidæ, 15

Humming birds, 18


I.

Ibis, 23

Ibis' skins, 56

Icteridæ, 16

Instruments for mounting, 64


J.

Jays, 17


K.

Killing wounded birds, 30

Kingfishers, 19


L.

Labelling specimens, 58

Label, sample, 58

Laniidæ, 15

Large birds, mounting, 76

Large mammals, mounting, 92

Large mammals' skins, 88

Laridæ, 26

Lizards, 98

Loading shells, 8

Loons, 26


M.

Making over old skins, 61

Making skins, 49

Making skins of long-necked birds, 55

Making skins of mammals, 86

Making skins of small birds, 50

Making stands, 84

Mammals, 84

Maynard's dermal preservative, 49

Measurements of birds recorded, 62

Measuring birds, 58

Measuring mammals, 88

Meleagridæ, 21

Motacilidæ, 14

Mounting birds, 64

Mounting dried skins, birds, 78

Mounting dried skins, mammals, 94

Mounting fishes, 99

Mounting fresh specimens, birds, 64

Mounting fresh specimens, mammals, 90

Mounting lizards, alligators, etc., 98

Mounting mammals, 88

Mounting mammals without any bones, 95

Mounting with wings spread, 76

Mounting reptiles, batrachians, and fishes, 97

Mounting screens, 76

Mounting turtles, 99


N.

Naturalists' guide, 44

Nuthatches, 13


O.

Old skins, making over, 61

Other methods of preparing skins, 47

Ordinary method of skinning birds, 43

Orioles, 16

Ouzels, 13

Owl as decoy, 5

Owls, 20

Oyster-catchers, 22


P.

Panel work, 70

Papier-maché, 82

Paridæ, 13

Parrots, 21

Part I., 1

Part II., 84

Pelecanidæ, 24

Pelicans, 24

Petrels, 26

Phætonidæ, 25

Phalaropodidæ, 22

Phalarops, 22

Phoenicopteridæ, 24

Picidæ, 19

Plain stands, 81

Pliers, 64

Pigeons, 22

Plovers, 22

Plotidæ, 25

Plugging mouths of birds, 33

Podicipidæ, 26

Preservative, 45

Preserving skins, 44

Prices for mounting birds, 79

Procellaridæ, 26

Procuring birds, 11

Psittacidæ, 19

Puffins, 26


Q.

Quail, 21

R.

Rails, 24

Rallidæ, 24

Recurvirostridæ, 22

Repeating collecting gun, 9


S.

Sample label for birds, 58

Saxicolidæ, 12

Screens, 77

Sex of birds, 43

Shooting birds, 7

Shot for birds, 11

Sieve trap, 2

Sittidæ, 13

Skinning birds, 33

Skinning-knife, 33

Skinning large mammals, 87

Skinning small mammals, 86

Skins of birds, 54

Skins of hawks, 57

Skins of herons, ibises, etc., 56

Skins of long-necked birds, 55

Skins of owls, 57

Skins of small birds, 52

Skins of vultures, 57

Small mammals, 88

Snipe, 23

Scolopacidæ, 23

Sparrows, 16

Spoonbills, 23

Steel traps, 4

Stilts, 23

Stone-chats, 12

Strigidæ, 22

Sulidæ, 24

Swallows, 15

Swifts, 18

Sylvidæ, 13

Sylvicolidæ, 14


T.

Tachypetidæ, 25

Tanagers, 15

Tanagridæ, 15

Tantalidæ, 23

Terns, 26

Tetraonidæ, 21

Thrushes, 12

Titmice, 13

Trapping birds, 1

Trochilidæ, 18

Troglodytidæ, 13

Tropic birds, 25

True larks, 14

True warblers, 13

Turdidæ, 12

Turnstones, 22

Tweezers, 50

Tyrannidæ, 17


V.

Vireonidæ, 15

Vireos, 15

Vultures, 21


W.

Wagtails, 14

Warblers, American, 14

Warblers, true, 13

Waxwings, 15

Wings spread, mounting, 76

Woodpeckers, 18

Wrens, 13

Wrentits, 13



                        C. J. MAYNARD & CO.,

                      No. 9 Pemberton Square,

                          Boston, Mass.

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NEW BOOKS FOR NATURALISTS.

IN PRESS.

  =Handbook of Entomology.= By Prof. C. V. RILEY. This work will be
      an introduction to the study of Entomology, and as such will
      find a place occupied by no American book. It will be thoroughly
      illustrated. 1 vol. 8vo. Cloth, $3.00.

  =Manual of the Mosses of the United States.= With copper-plates
      illustrating the Genera. By LEO LESQUEREUX and THOMAS P. JAMES.

  It is particularly desired that botanists wishing copies should
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  =Botanical Micro-Chemistry.= An introduction to the study of
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S. E. CASSINO & CO., PUBLISHERS,

BOSTON, MASS.



NEW WORK ON SEA MOSSES.

We shall issue in a few days an elegantly illustrated "MANUAL OF
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work as has long been needed and much called for: a handy, convenient
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It is a complete Collector's Guide, giving practical information as
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are also given of the best methods of studying and identifying these
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While in the description of species the method of treatment is popular,
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The plates, twenty in number, are drawn and colored from nature,
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The work is issued in elegant binding, 12 mo., over 300 pages, and is
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by the publisher._

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                            --------

_Handbook of Invertebrate Zoology._

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  This work is published in one large 8vo volume of 400 pages. Illustrated
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_Handbook of Entomology._

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      Commission, State Entomologist of Mo., etc., etc. In press.
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_Sea Mosses._

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_Check List of Coleoptera._

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_Ferns of North America._

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    The structure of Vorticellæ,
      The reproduction of Vorticellæ,
        The structure of a Sponge,
          The structure and growth of a Campanularian Hydroid,
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                  The general anatomy of a Sea Urchin,
    The embryology and metamorphosis of the Sea Urchin and Starfish,
      The general anatomy of the Earthworm,
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          The anatomy of the Leech,
            The anatomy of a Crab.
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                 The structure and development of Cyclops,
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    SCISSORS, Curved                            1.25, 1.37, 1.50
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Transcriber's Note


Minor typographical errors have been corrected.

The astronomical symbols for Mars and Venus on page 58 are represented
in this text version by [M] and [V] respectively.





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