Condition reporting- A glimpse at the birds

As part of my training plan, I will be learning to repair bird taxidermy. First of all, however, I need to write up condition reports of the damaged taxidermy in the zoology stores.  A condition report is a document that lists the specimen’s description, labelling and location as well as any damage caused to the specimen and whether action should be taken to fix it.

Ariel Toucan. In good condition but others needed repair

Most of the specimens were in excellent condition, but a few were missing glass eyes or had feather damage. Some such as the red kite below had wings and heads detached and needed a general clean.

A specimen such as the Red Kite above would be classed in our condition reports as “fair.” The damage is reversible and the object is not deteriorating. If a specimen was classed as “poor” it would be from excessive pest damage or rot. Thankfully so far I have not found any that could be classed as “poor.” On the contrary, most were fine and perhaps only needed a dust.

A Magnificent Riflebird

Some of the taxidermy was not mounted, or was old exhibition material. This standard-winged nightjar had wires  protruding from its feet. The long plumes you can see in the picture below are actually wing ornaments the males have during the breeding season.

So far I’ve found 4 specimens that need repairing, but there will be more. I only checked two of the shelves today.  More to come!


About Gina Allnatt

I have just finished a year long traineeship as a Biology Curator at Manchester Museum. I am currently a research and curation volunteer in the Entomology and Botany departments. -Gina Allnatt
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5 Responses to Condition reporting- A glimpse at the birds

  1. Karohemd says:

    The toucan looks as cheeky as the ones in your pictures. 🙂

  2. Colleen says:

    How did you get into doing this work. I’m studying zoology at the moment and this area seems an interesting one to work in

    • Hi Colleen. 🙂

      For 2 years was a paid employee at the Natural History Museum there doing data input work. When the cuts happened I lost my job and volunteered there in the Zoology and Entomology departments for five months. This helped me gain experience. I then applied for the HLF Curatorial Trainee scheme and got it.

      If you can volunteer that’s the first step. Just gain as much experience as you can.

      • Colleen says:

        Yeah well i already volunteer at the Manchester Museum with Andrew Gray, and im lucky enough that he has taken me on as casual staff in the vivarium which is awesome. It was through his blog that i found yours on here 🙂

        thanks for the info though..i will have to keep keep my ear to the ground for schemes like this because i love working at the museum

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