WE will suppose that a proficiency, from practice, has been attained in the art of bird-preserving, according to the instructions given. The proficiency in preserving may apply only to the preservation and the form, great and necessary things, no doubt, as preliminaries; but, like matter without manner, of little avail alone. For attitude, I would say, as has been said to many a young artist, go to Nature, and there you will find an original in perfection. Would you make a willow- wren look like a willow-wren, watch him as he there hangs upon the weeping birch, or stands on a bough peering in quest of food? Each bird has its own manner; and if you cannot hit the manner, or make your stuffed skin so far amenable as to assume the attitude, it is either ill-stuffed, or you want the requisite knowledge of that which you should copy.
Bird Pinned Up. Having fixed on the attitude, it now only remains to put the feathers into their natural order as smoothly and regularly as possible; and to keep them in this state they should be bound around with small fillets of muslin fastened with pins. The bird should then be thoroughly dried, by placing it in an airy situation, if in summer; or if in winter, near the fire, but not so close as to affect the natural oil contained in the feathers. The want of proper attention in drying ruins many a fine specimen; if long kept damp putridity ensues despite all preservatives, when the skin will become rotten, and the feathers will soon fall off; besides, the mold and long-continued damp change the chemical properties of the preservatives used.
After the bird has been thoroughly dried, the fillets are removed; the wire which protruded from the head is cut off as close to the skull as possible, with the wire-cutting pincers elsewhere shown. It must then be attached to a circular, or other shaped piece of wood, with the generic and specific name and sex, as well as its country and locality attached to it, on a small ticket, when it may be placed in a museum.
Young hands commonly suppose that a bird should stand bolt upright, with the legs almost perpendicular, or at right angles to the perch. This is a great mistake, and never to be found in nature. Do we stand rigid, like a foot-soldier on drill? Does not a bird, as well as ourselves, accommodate itself to the thing on which it rests? Assuredly it does; for birds do not, as a young bird-stuffer endeavors to do, find always a perch to rest upon in the plane of the horizon. It therefore follows that, as he keeps himself upright, his legs must accommodate themselves to his perch. So in the ground-birds there is a gentle slope backwards from the hind toe, the balance being preserved in both cases by throwing the body forward in proportion. It is not uncommon to see birds preserved with wings and tail spread. Now, ordinarily speaking, this is very objectionable, because very unnatural. A bird preserved is supposed to represent a bird in a state of repose, that is, not in flight; the only modification allowable being with regard to those birds whose manner it may be to have the wings more or less open on occasions; thus the falcon tribe, supposing they are represented as devouring a quarry, or two birds toying with each other. It may be that a bird essentially aerial, like the wift, or perhaps some of the terns or the frigate bird, may be represented as actually on the wing. In this case, of course, the wings must be spread; and this is best done by passing a wire, not too thick, from the base of the quill-feathers on the under side, alongside the bone into the body, where it should be carefully and coaxingly inserted towards the tail until you feel that you have a pretty good hold,
You may then pass it carefully under the longest quill-feather, and through the back of the case, and fasten it by bringing it back again through and clinching it, concealing it so by the oblique position of the bird that it is not detectable. It is obvious that by passing the wire alongside the bone, you may bend the wings to any angle you please. With regard to the case there are two methods: one a bell-glass, which, glass being now so reasonable, is certainly a very pretty and reasonable way of mounting, but inapplicable to birds which are to be placed on a wall, or to be represented flying; although this may be managed by attaching one wire from the point of the wing to a twig sufficiently firm, which it will scarcely appear to touch, if managed adroitly. It is likewise indispensable that a bird for a shade should be stuffed so well as to look nicely in all positions. One thing must always be remembered, do not have your case a shade too large, just clear the object so as not to stint it for room; and in flat cases this applies chiefly to depth, for it should have sufficient light, or it will not look well. Wooden cases should be made as slight (in thickness) as is consistent with firmness; well-seasoned white deal is best; and the case should be formed of back, top and bottom, open at the front and sides, and at each corner of the front two slight deal supports, rabbited on their inner edges, and presenting on the whole a good appearance.
Having the case prepared, it should be papered with ordinary demy paper on the top and back within, and, when the paste is dry, washed over carefully with size and whitening, tinted with a little stone-blue; some add some touches of white subsequently to represent clouds, the ground representing the air; some also paste a landscape on the back, but this must be good, or you had better have plain color. The bird to be placed in this case is either perching, standing, or flying. For the latter, directions have been given. As to the two former, the perch must be firmly fixed in the small piece of flat wood upon which it previously stood, and put in upon it, the wood being fastened to the bottom of the case, either by screwing from below, from above, or gluing with stout glue, or by passing wire through two holes in the bottom of the case and the wood, and clinching above. In this case, or in screwing from below, let the wire or the screw into the wood, and putty over, and so if the bird is represented standing. The bird being fixed, the next thing is the decorating or "weeding," as it is technically called, and here we enter upon a subject so entirely of taste and fancy, that no fixed rules as to the disposition can in all cases be given. One rule applies equally to this as to landscape painting, viz., that there should always be a compensation of objects. That is, if you have a tuft of grass on one side which rises towards the top of the case, there should be something in the lower opposite corner to strike the eye, but not to rise above midway up at the furthest, and the ground, or floor, should not be overfurnished with mosses, etc. After the bird is fixed, the whole bottom should be carefully glued over with thin glue, taking care, where the bird's feet are on the bottom, not to touch the toes with the glue. Some fine-sifted sand or gravel should then be sifted over it, and it will adhere wherever the glue has touched; for this purpose a small tin shovel is best, about two inches wide by four long, with a handle in proportion, which can be made to order at any tinman's for a trifle.