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Great Blue Heron Eying a Bull Frog, Taxidermy, 2019; Victor F. Cole; Newburyport, MA; Feathers,  glass, wire, body form; Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Great Blue Heron Eying a Bull Frog, Taxidermy, 2019
Victor F. Cole
Newburyport, MA
Feathers, glass, wire, body form
Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
verticle bar Artist
Victor F. Cole
Newburyport, MA
Victor Cole knows his birds. Retired from a career as a biologist, he does part-time bird taxidermy. "I've mounted everything from alligator to deer head to foxes to bobcats, but I just like birds." Asked what makes a great bird mount, he says, "Making it as lifelike as possible."

Birds are protected by highly regulated state and federal laws. "If you find a bird that has died naturally", he warns, "you can't take a feather legally. "Salvage permits are reserved for educational facilities like Mass Audubon, for whom Victor does work. He also mounts waterfowl and game birds for hunters. "Most of the birds you can mount are the ones you can hunt legally - - pheasant, turkey, and ducks."

The showroom in his home is an aviary display of more than 200 specimens. Lifelike eiders, teal, pheasants, quail, and turkey take up space on every surface. Works-in-progress for clients - - owls and scoters- - have tiny pins and bits of tape on them. Unlike mammal taxidermy, which often uses mannequins, the wings, head, neck, feet, and tail all have to be positioned.

Nicole Baldelli has her own taxidermy business specializing in mammals. She took up Victor's offer to teach her bird taxidermy and she has been training with him for a while. "She's serious. She knows the process of mounting birds pretty well." In 2020, Victor Cole was awarded a Mass Cultural Council Fellowship in the Traditional Arts.
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