Skin and Bones

... rows of brightly colored tropical birds, preserved by the taxidermist’s art, lying silently on their backs.

He gently lifts one out, cradling the specimen in his hands. Roughly a foot long, it has a pair of elongated streamer feathers extending from the tail, a beautiful light-blue breast and a wickedly hooked beak. A tag identifies it as a racket-tailed roller, collected in the Belgian Congo in 1955.

Although it’s been dead for more than half a century, it still retains the form and color it had in life.

Konstantinidis explains the preservation process.

“You take the intestines and everything out, and you degrease it, get all the fat out, and then you stuff it,” he said. “If you do it right, they stay perfect forever.”

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