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Wednesday, October 06, 2010



"I always think of saving some of the huge crop of snunned, DEADER THAN DEAD birds who fly into my tall windows"....How about hanging things in those window to greatly reduce your "huge crop" of "DEADER THAN DEAD" birds? I'm sure the ecosystem and those who love it will appreciate the effort!

Karen Burns

OH MY! What a conversation you have created here! While I have birds fly into my windows occasionally, I would never want to skin one. Now I realize you are a tough Texas gal, but, I know you have the heart to respect the tiny creature, too.

Deryn Mentock

Not to worry, dear readers! As beautiful as this tiny little pelt is, I'm just not the skinning type so there will be no hummingbird skinning going on here!

Elise B.

ok...i just did a little research on what a Humminbird Totem means and you are going to want to read up on it...they have a deep religious meaning, particulary as a symbolize of the reserrection...also opening of the heart....presence, they teach independence and much more...really amazing...she came to you (unfortunately your windows were too clean...)

Elise B.

Ahhh..so sad..she's so sweet..please don't skin her...wouldn't it be glorious to give her a lovely burial and honor her beautiful existence....you can use her sweet being as a spark for a special piece made by your hands......she deserves that....thanks for sharing her with us.

another thing I would do is look up the meaning of hummingbirds...


awww, poor thing. the hummingbirds come really close to my window too, but luckily none of them have been injured or killed.

Echoing Judy's comment above, you might want to get some advice on the applicability of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the use of birds and bird parts in artwork.

Diana Frey

Sorry can't help you with the preserving but I know you will discover a way to pay homage to this little beauty.

Sheri L. Williamson

Yes, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects hummingbirds as well as other native birds:


It's a very tough law, but it was passed in response to the wanton carnage going on in the early years of the 20th century, as millions of birds were slaughtered and their skins or plumes sold to create fashion accessories.

The ethical and legal thing to do is return these birds to the earth. They will not "go to waste" - they'll nourish other creatures and become part of the cycle of life again.

Millions of birds die needless deaths every year in collisions with windows. The American Bird Conservancy has a new brochure that can help you keep your windows from taking any more innocent lives:




How SAD!!!!!!! I adore our hummers here in Texas & have always marveled at them. Bless her heart. I don't think I could do anything other than wrap her in a beautiful green fabric & say a prayer as I put her in the ground & covered her sweet self.

I can't believe it's been since ADORN ME since I've see you!!!! I got to see Diane at Round Top. I have missed seeing you!!! When are we going to hook up? I have to work in Houston next week but, won't have any time to visit & then have to rush home to Hubby (who's still recovering) because it's our Anniversary. It the big 40 one!!!! YIKES! Hope to see you soon. Charlene


Oh, the poor little thing -- how sad that it's life was cut short. I just love hummingbirds, though we don't have many that visit us.

I'll be intersted to know how the skinning goes.

Katsui Jewelry

Well, my thought as I read this was...will she really??? I am glad you didn't skin the poor thing but it must have been hard with those beautiful feathers! I have you on my blog reader now and have been reading your blog forever. Both my daughter and I hope that someday there will be a time we can take a class from you...maybe even online!

Jen Worden

Well, you might've known I'd weigh in on this one, huh Deryn?! ;)

Firstly, whichever way you go about drying the body - silica, salt, sawdust, cornmeal is a new one on me but it makes sense - the feathers *will* get mites eventually.

The birds that fly into my windows, I either leave dry in my shed, in tact but I pull the feathers leaving the wings. OR as someone mentioned, clip the wings off the body at the shoulder and spread with tacks on a board to keep them opened (or in whatever position you want them to be used). I also sever the head & feet cuz I use those. The head can be dunked in boiling water to remove skin/feathers so you get the skeleton.

Personally if you want the skeleton it's actually easier to bury it and let the bugs do their job. Make a mesh basket with chain if you bury. You can actually just leave it in direct contact w/the ground weighted w/a rock so it can't get carted away by cats or dogs or?? The bugs'll do a pretty good job though it takes time. Best if you are squeamish at all.

I was actually looking at my plucked hummer the other day it looks like old leather now. Kinda cool.

heh. I can imagine the freaked out grimaces of those reading this. Hey! Sometimes art ain't for the faint of heart. lol


Oh my Deryn. What a sweet, sweet tiny bird. And to feel its soft body and feathers, a rare opportunity.


Using feathers is fine as long as the bird isn't protected or on the endangered species list. Little girl like that dive-bombed my mom's patio doors about 10 years ago. She put it in a mason jar and screwed the lid closed. Still looks exactly like when she put it in the jar. We've not been brave enough to open it and see if it smells. ^_^

Kay Mallery

I recently complete a piece of jewelry that included a bluejay feather I found outside. Little did I know:
The possession of feathers and other parts from MBTA-protected birds without a permission is prohibited. The only exceptions are the feathers of legally-hunted waterfowl or other migratory gamebirds, which may be possessed by hunters. This prohibition extends to molted feathers and to feathers taken from road- or window-killed birds. Individuals or institutions wishing to use bird feathers, bones, or whole specimens for educational or research purposes must apply for permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their state wildlife or natural resource agency. For more information see http://www.fws.gov/permits/mbpermits/birdbasics.html.
The paragraph above was copied from http://www.lab.fws.gov/featheratlas/

Hope I'm not in trouble with the copyright police as well!

Carla Fox

I wrote a poem about a hummingbird that flew into my room and I had to trap it to let it go (true story). They are such beautiful creatures.


I recently looked up 'how to preserve a bird' because I wanted to preserve a recent dead Chickadee I found. Corn meal was the answer. Other information I got, though, was how to skin it, stuff the beak, take the entrails out, etc. Not something I was up to.

But, like the silica, the cornmeal will help to dehydrate. I can't imagine that the little hummer will have much for brain matter (the reason you stuff the beak) and entrails and might dehydrate faster because it's small. I'm not sure how long to keep it in the cornmeal.

An idea I just thought of....a dehydrator. Granted you should wrap it in paper towel possibly because of the whole birds/germs/parasites thing but that's what cleaning with hot hot water is for in my book. If I had a dehydrator, I'd try that for sure.

I ended up not doing mine because it seemed to be preserving itself without odor but what ended up is the small feathers started to fluff off and there was a small odor after a week. The wings and tail feathers are still attached so far. My bird project has now turned into 'how can I get the skeletal parts?'


This kind of reminds me of young Norman Bates in the movie Psycho stuffing the little birdies :) Kinda creepy and sad, would be a waste to bury such lovely feathers, though. Do you have to skin the bird, just pluck the feathers?


I know it is illegal to use any parts of some birds in the USA. Don't know if it applies to hummingbirds. Poor darling little thing - so beautiful.
You wouldn't have to skin it to use the feathers, though. Maybe you could find a taxidermist in your area - they should know the laws and the methods.


Okay......believe it or not a friend of mine had a similar incident and he put the little sweetie in a bucket of silica stuff from the craft store(to dry flowers)and then sent me the feathers.Not sure though how long he left the little critter in there.He's a healer from Oregon(isn't that your part of the world??)He said back when he was younger owls would get killed alot by the logging trucks. His grandpa and father would put it in a box with rock salt and cover the bird with the salt. I don't think it's mean't to preserve the bird itself but to dry everything out so you can pluck the feathers and save the wings.....
Who knows?????
Seems kinda' silly to write "hope this helps"

Erin Prais-Hintz

At first I am thinking...ewwww! But I pick up feathers and such all the time. This is just still attached. I have no idea how one would go about that but if you do you will honor her tiny and very beautiful life in a way that is unique and artful!
Enjoy the day!

Alisa R.

Ohhh... That's so, so sad! Such a little jewel.
I don't know about removing the feathers (maybe pack the bird in sand and let it dry out? ew...) but they would be sweet in something artful to honor the beauty of hummers. {Remember that song-- "hummingbird don't fly away, fly away......" by Seals & Crofts, I think? Showing my age!}


If you clip the wings off at the shoulder and tack them open to a piece of wood they will dry that way. Keep them dry low humidity place and they should be dry in a couple of weeks. I have a warbler wing that I dried this way.

diane cook

Ahhhhh....that is such a shame~poor little thing.
And, I would say "Very carefully with a very sharp itty bitty knife".
You know I live with a hunter Deryn!

Judy Streger

It probably would not be a good idea to post this comment, but I am fairly sure that it is illegal to use bird feathers in art work. Please check this out for yourself. My daughter used feathers in some artwork and I freaked out thinking she was going to be arrested or fined. That's when I did my research. Luckily her work slipped past the "feather" police since she's an unknown artist. I'm sure you'll get scathing comments from some of your readers. I'm only mentioning this to you privately to try to keep you from having legal grief since you are well known. Please don't think I'm criticizing you. I love your work.


I have 2 little hummers in my freezer, they flew into my aunts picture window before we got some sun catchers and things hung up in front it....I plan to use them one day in a piece of art...it seems a waste to do otherwise, but I must admit, the thought of skinning them makes me quesey...a friend years ago helped me to skin a crow I found, she used an exacto knife and wire cutters and we put the parts into a box of salt for several months...we did the same with a hawk....it worked well. Good luck and be sure to leave an offering for that little one's spirit!

Elizabeth Parsons

poor thing! you are probably right about flying into the window- a friend of mine once had a huge DUCK fly into his windshiled while he was driving! Can you imagine his shock!! (and the duck's shock!)

Susan Tantlinger

Carefully. Heartlessly perhaps.
I always think of saving some of the huge crop of snunned, DEADER THAN DEAD birds who fly into my tall windows. My idea was to pop one into the freezer and then take it to the taxidermist cause I'm a chicken when it comes to skinning anything.

Carol Myers

What a hoot! A kinda sad hoot! But a hoot! Maybe Jane Ann Wynn would have some ideas. . .;)I wouldn't let them go to waste! Keep us posted!

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