Snowy Owl Project for Local High School
We as bird taxidermist and memory preservation specialists... hear lots of great stories from our valued customers. This story was not only a change of pace, but a welcome challenge! A Snowy Owl had been found deceased in the play area of Sheboygan Christian School in Sheboygan, WI. The school followed all proper protocol and had the DNR come to the site and issue a proper possession permit immediately and before handling the bird. Once the permit was issued, we got a phone call to mount the bird for the school. It was a great honor to get to work on one of God's great creations. Although it was a sad shame this creature had the ending that it did, with a little help from modern taxidermy techniques and advice from colleagues, we hope to have preserved his life to further educate those around him! We are not one hundred percent sure what happened to the owl, other than one of his main flight web's, which is the main tendon that creates tension on the leading edge of the wing, was completely ruptured. Our best educated guess is that the bird likely struck a branch or power line at higher rate of speed in flight. The bird no longer able to fly, likely died of hunger.
We tried with all our present ability to preserve the bird doing something it was likely very proficient at, preying on small ducks! This duck seen in the mount was gifted to the school in the process of this project. The bird in which the owl is seen snatching in it's final resting pose... is a Bufflehead Drake. This is a small diver/sea type duck that often lives on the edges
of large bodies of water or in river systems. They are a gorgeous bird with head feathers ranging from green to deep purple in iridescence with the sun light. These ducks can be found in marshy areas to wide open lakes and open water systems. They are on the menu in the State of Wisconsin for the Snowy Owl, among other birds of prey!
The pose chosen by the school was one that would show a near full wing span and spread talons for educational purposes moving forward. We spiced it up a little by adding the duck. The pose was carefully planned out so that we could capture the precise moment when it would have silently flown down from it's perch, quickly and stealthly approached, and finally snatched onto the duck on top of the water. As you can see the owl would have just leveled off, snatched his talon closed, and in that moment... we captured the pose. You can see one of the talons had wrapped in front of the ducks bill and caused his head to jerk back with the closing of the talon. You will notice a large yellow circle on the abstract artistic display. That is to show both the size of the owls eyes, nearly 22 MM in true life size, but also the beautiful bright yellow color. We made a large replica of a Snowy Owl eye, to show off one of the birds most intricate and survival traits. The rest of the display is black and white abstract circles, just showing off the black and white on both the owl and duck.
What a blessing it was to complete this project! We learned a ton and can't wait until the next raptor challenge!