Sunday, February 27, 2011

Making a Scarlet Tanager Study Skin

Posted by Kirk
In this video, Dick Olenschlager from the Science Museum of Minnesota prepares a study skin for the collection at the Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center. Dick has made over 20,000 bird study skins in his life and probably prepared an equal number of mammals. Study skins are valuable scientific and teaching tools.

Study skins are different than taxidermy in that it is quicker and the animal is prepared to collect and preserve scientific data rather than make a lifelike replica of the animal. This Scarlet Tanager is in a plumage most people never see. In the summer, the bird is an incredible red that makes Northern Cardinals look shabby. This bird died in the fall and has molted nearly all of the red feathers. It will be a valuable teaching tool to show molting and discuss how male birds use color to attract mates.