I was walking my dog on one of the bush tracks near my home, keeping my eyes peeled for feathers......
I saw a scattering of small feathers and followed the trail to a nearby bush, lying there, was a dead magpie. I quickly picked it up and put it in the dog waste bag and carried on my way. I had plans for this bird.
An elderly woman walking her little dog stopped for a chat, her eyes widened when she saw the bag in my hand. She looked at me enquiringly “Oh! Your dog does quite big umm..............?” HA! HA! HA! I explained the contents of the bag and went on with my walk.
I had been wanting a magpie skull for a still life for a while, and was hoping to come across one already cleaned by ants but hadn’t had any luck, so I got home and started googling away on how to clean up dead animals for bone display. I will spare you the more gory details, except to say, not a job for the faint hearted, especially as it had been lying there for a few days.
This is after boiling and stripping, soaking in a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide
And this is the finished skull after drying and sealing.
I’m really pleased with how it has turned out, all the tiny,fine boned structures remained intact and it will feature in a still life painting soon.
Apparently, museums use bug boxes containing a special beetle that will clean and strip bones, but, in the absence of those, the method I used turned out pretty well.