Taxidermy in the UK

We are always very interested in Purchasing Victorian Taxidermy, please respond via this on-line form of what you have for sale. HERE

Taxidermy bird chicks.

Here we examine the process that the Victorian taxidermist and natural history collectors routinely used, which was to take either chicks and eggs from the wild and also shoot the adult birds solely for the purposes of taxidermy. This was undertaken on an almost industrial scale throughout the UK. Prior to the advent of photography and the "moving image", there was very limited options by which to undertake this study. It was also completely legal to do this also and it was not until the lobbying and creation of the RSPB (direct result of the plume trade in the UK, circa 1860.) did attitudes slowly change.
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Day old bird of prey chick in its untreated state.This bird died shortly after leaving the egg, which is common amongst birds in general.

We are not here to debate the ethics and or rationale of such a practice, however suffice to say that it did exist and without such attention to detail research into such animals may not have been able to have been undertaken. The aim of this page is to demonstrate the skill involved with working with such small and delicate specimens and how they can be incorporated into nest scenes / dioramas that endeavour to depicted as near as possible how the birds would look in their nature habitat. Examples on this page are of both Victorian taxidermy cases, undertaken by some of the best exponents of their time and also work carried out by some of the modern taxidermist capable of producing high quality work.
The taxidermy practice these days remains the same, but more modern methods can now be used to preserved skins (Freeze drying is always an option, where most / if not all of the subject matter remains in-situ and is therefore desiccated) and birds can be obtained from legal sources and where required with the appropriate paperwork.


Nowadays eggs can also be reproduced to in such detail as to negate the requirement to obtain the real thing from the wild. There are a number of bird egg reproducers in the UK and perhaps Graham Axon is the best of them. His work is also most featured on this site and quite frankly when compared to the real thing it is almost impossible to tell them apart. Graham has a significant waiting list but his work is worth that wait.


Chicks can now be obtained from registered bird breeders and are legal to own and use for the purposes of taxidermy again. A high percentage of hawks and falcons either die "in shell" just prior to hatching and or discarded by the parents shortly after birth. Many cases the adult birds will actually feed dead siblings back to the remaining chicks. Incubated birds if the humidity is wrong will also die in the shell. Barn Owls / Harriers and Hawks by example naturally undertake this cannibalistic behaviour when food supplies dwindle the larger chicks will eat the smaller siblings Breeders when asked will place these specimens in freezers solely for the use of taxidermy.
With regards to modern bird of prey chicks, they still require appropriate licences to own and or display for commercial gain, but if you are seeking to display reproduction eggs and chicks in nest scenes it is worthwhile seeking to obtain these specimens from registered breeders and with patience and luck you can obtain virtually every UK bird of prey specimen legally from legitimate sources. Taxidermists using such materials tend to be more skilled as the level of attention to detail required is greater as the subject matter is fragile and if not treated properly in the process the specimen will "slip". Slipping is where the skins looses the ability to retain the feathers and down and therefore once preserved the skins shrinks and the down or feathers fall our rendering the subject matter inappropriate for use.
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European Quail chick. Just to give you an idea of size the pin holding the chin up is a standard threading needle. This bird died in the incubator. Came out well in the end.

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European Quail chick. Another sense of scale. This is the chick above.

Examples of chick and reproduction eggs in dioramas.

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Day old bird of prey chick in its untreated state.

Bird body carved. The original body is present above.

Bird body carved. The coin is to give a sense of scale of the work involved.

The chick is now empty with the body located to the right on the specimen.

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The chick in the final stages of completion. The body has been inserted and faux glass eyes. The legs and wings have been wired. The specimen is still wet and will take a couple of days for the skin to dry and cure completely.

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The chick in the final stages of completion. The body has been inserted and faux glass eyes. The legs and wings have been wired. The specimen is still wet and will take a couple of days for the skin to dry and cure completely.

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The chick in the final stages of completion. The body has been inserted and faux glass eyes. The legs and wings have been wired. The specimen is still wet and will take a couple of days for the skin to dry and cure completely.

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Pheasant chicks in a frozen state.

Close up of the case above

Hooded crow chicks

Close up of Oystercatcher chicks.

Restored case of Black Headed Gull and chicks by James Gardner of London. Originally this case would have dated from around 1890. This restoration was undertaken by Tony.

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Robin and chicks by A.J.Armitstead.

Kestrels, with Starling prey and 3 chicks by James Hutchings. Fresh to the market and not for sale. Unusual in that Hutchings normally created some weird combination, like Common Gulls and Canaries, Red Squirrels with Gulls and Cormorant with a pair of Jays. This is a rare case in many respects.

Modern case by Williams, containing a Mature Barn owl and young.

Taxidermy4Cash does not undertake taxidermy, rather we are collectors of other people’s work, both current and historical we also offer web hosting, a search engine submission service and increasingly one of the larger article resource banks on the net. So if your keen to learn about Taxidermy etc, then you know where to look. We are always interested to here about new resource, if you feel a resource should be listed here then please contact us.

ITEMS WANTED. Please respond via this on-line form HERE with a description of what you have for sale.


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Rowland Ward Taxidermy
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Countdown to Extinction
UK Taxidermy Price Index
Charles Darwin
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Victorian Taxidermy

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