Pavo Christatus Pyropus (i made that last part up.)
This peacock was one of the more difficult pieces that I have produced for Meddling with Nature. Primarily he is a Bronze Peacock. They are highly sought after and a bit more rare of a breed than other variations. The major thing that sets this peacock apart from the others is his dark color. The oculi feathers are iridescent purple and green instead of the standard blue, gold, and magenta. The back shell feathers are a slate grey, and his front is more of a purplish brown than the striking blue of the classic India breed. These little guys fetch a pretty high price in the taxidermy market. I was able to get this one due to some damage he incurred. Apparently he was killed by a mink. He had significant damage to the neck skin, pinned shell feathers, and pinned secondary wing feathers. This meant that almost half of the shells fell out, and a third of the secondary wing feathers were missing altogether. Basically this bird was killed during a time of molt, a process by which a bird systematically replaces its feathers. (Pinning is when new feathers have been produced, but are not independent of their blood supply, this results in the falling out of feathers when dead due to the lack of skin attachment.)
Luckily his train was in great shape. In order to deal with the deficits I had to find a way to repair the damage using available materials. Normally if there is a problem like this I can easily replace damaged areas with a similar bird. Of course the Bronze peacock is a bit harder to get replacement parts for, so I had to get a little creative. I had a black shoulder peacock, but alas, his secondary wings had a trim of bright blue iridescence which made them too abnormal. I decided that the color of the feather didn’t matter nearly as much as the iridescence, this lead me to choose an Eastern wild turkey. The slate color of the feathers matched as did the more earthy iridescence. Originally I wanted to make this peacock entirely black to work as an opposite to the white peacock, but I soon realized that the shear corruption of the Bronze peacock made more sense.
I doubled his normal feather allotments on the wings and patterned him after a Vulture. I believed it was more important for the peacock to be a true opposite in nature rather than just color. Most of what is visible on the wings is actually from the turkey not the peacock. The primaries are from the original bird. The shells were replaced at the top third with the corresponding piece from the Turkey. Basically I made him a little toupee. In order to get this pieces to adhere I had to strip the original feathers from the peacock. This was incredibly scary to do… Once stripped the skin was covered in contact cement, new pieces placed, pinned and prayed over. Despite common sense, it actually worked and is stable. The eyes for this peacock are painted as a negative of the white peacocks. This was done easily be inverting a photograph of the white peacocks eyes and painting from there. Instead of gold, the bronze was gilded with copper, a much more appropriate alternative, but also a much thicker one. Gold is 1/600,000th of an inch thick. Copper leaf is at about 1/200,000th of an inch, and not nearly as malleable. Burnishing proved to be less than effective, but without the concern of wasting leaf, I was able to be much less exact in placement and simply layered the leaf over and over again until he was complete. The corona was made from the neck feathers of a turkey. The iridescence matched beautifully. Depending on the light, the corona will shine red, olive, or purple, in direct light it appears black.