The following is the mode in which this performation is effected: A hole is bored with a bradawl the caliber of the wire which it is intended to use. The wire, which is to continue in the leg, is passed across the knee and brought out interiorly, and, placing it into the ring above mentioned, the same operation is performed on the other side. The extremities of the wires of the legs, and the end of the central wire beyond the ring, are all twisted together with flat pincers, and then bent towards the tail. The tail-bearer is next formed, which consists of the fourth piece of wire, with which an oval is formed, by twisting the two ends two or three turns, so that they may form a kind of fork, with the oval nearly the length of the body of the bird; the two points of the fork must be sharpened with a file, and near enough to enable them to enter the rump, through which they must pass, and their points will be concealed by the rectrices, or large straight tail feathers, while the oval is within the body of the bird. If the bird is large, the tail-bearer must be firmly attached to the interior wires, by twisting a small wire several times round both. But unless the bird be very large, it may remain quite free.
All the parts of the skin at which we can come must be thoroughly rubbed with preserving soap, the rump in particular, which should besides be soaked with the solution of corrosive sublimate. The stuffing is now proceeded with, by inserting chopped flax or tow, till it has attained its proper dimensions. The skin is brought together and sewed up, while we take the greatest care to separate the feathers at every stitch.
The orbits of the eyes are next finished, by inserting, with small forceps and a short stuffing stick, a small quantity of chopped cotton, while attention is paid to round the eyelids properly. The glass eyes are now inserted, taking care to place them properly under the eyelids. But, before fixing the eye, a little calcareous cement must be used, to prevent them from coming out. If any part of the nictitating membrane is visible below, it must be pushed up with the steel point.
The stuffing of the bird being now completed, the next thing is to place it either on a branch, or, if a bird which does not sit on trees, on a piece of plank; whichever of these it is, two holes are bored for the reception of the wires, which have been allowed to protrude from the soles of the feet, for fixing the bird. (See fig. 8.) These, of course, are pierced in such situations as are necessary for the attitude or position of the legs. The wires are put through these holes, and twisted so as to secure the bird in its position. The attitude of the bird will, of course, depend upon the fancy and taste of the operator, and ought to be in conformity with the manners of the bird in a living state.
The wire frame-work, above described, is the most simple of any in its construction, and is better adapted for small than large birds. Indeed, it will hardly suit those of the larger species. The following is another method of constructing the framework, which may be used either in large or small birds:
Like the former it is constructed of four pieces of wire. The center piece should be double the length of the bird; it is bent at a third of its length in an oval form, and twisted two turns, the shortest end being passed into the oval, and then raised against the longer end, so as to produce a ring at the end, outside of the oval, large enough to admit the two wires which pass from the feet to the inside of the bird. It is now twisted a second time, and firmly united to the longer end, which ought to be straight, with a sharp point, effected by means of a file. As before directed, it is rubbed with oil, and forced through the stuffing of the neck. It ought to be so constructed, by measurement, that the oval part of the wire shall be in the center of the body inside. The wires of the feet and legs, as before directed, ought to be straight and pointed, and passed through the soles of the feet as before. When the point is penetrated, the other end of the wire may be bent, so that by means of it we may be able to assist in forcing up the remainder of the wire. The two internal ends of the foot-wires are twisted together, and curved within, so as to pass through the small circle or ring of the middle branch above the oval, to each side of which they are now attached with a piece of small string.
The tail-bearer is constructed on the same principles, and attached in the same manner, as before described, and the latter apparatus is introduced after the neck and back are finished in the stuffing.
This practice of introducing the neck-wire, after the neck is stuffed, was first adopted at the Jardin des Plantes at Paris, and is now invariably adopted in that establishment in preference to introducing it before the neck is stuffed. The neck of a swan or other long-necked and large birds, are even done so. It is unquestionably the best plan which has hitherto been discovered, as it preserves the cylindrical shape of the neck.
Mr. Bullock's Method of Stuffing Birds. Mr. Bullock, of the London Museum, Egyptian Hall, had another method of arranging the wires which, after what we have already said, will be easily comprehended by a reference to Fig. 8, where we have given a figure of his mode. After the skin is taken off and prepared, different sized nealed iron wires are procured, according to the size of the bird they are to support. The skin is laid on its back without stretching it; cut two pieces of wire, the one rather longer than the bird, and the other shorter, so as not to reach to the head of the bird, twist them together, sharpen the ends of the longer by means of a file, and pass one end through the rump and the other through the crown of the head, near the base of the bill. Care must be taken not to extend the neck beyond its ordinary length - a very common fault in most preservers. Lay a little tow along the back of the skin for the wire to rest on, then take two other pieces of strong wire and file them to a point at one end; these are passed through the soles of the feet and up the center of the leg-bone, or tarsus. When within the body, they are to be fastened to the first wires by twisting them together, which, when accomplished, may be supposed to represent the back bone. The wire should be left two or three inches out of the soles of the feet, to fasten them in a standing position, as before directed. Two smaller wires are then passed through the wings, as in the legs, and afterwards fastened to the back wires a little higher up than the leg wires, taking care that no part of the skin is to be extended beyond its natural position.