How to Preserve Turkey Feathers

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A North American male turkey, known as a "tom"
A North American male turkey, known as a "tom" (Image: Wikipedia, Lupin)

Preserving turkey feathers, either for a trophy from a recent hunt or simply to display, can lead to a beautiful piece of natural art. The contour feathers that make up the outer layer of the turkey, as well as its tail feathers, are remarkably beautiful and often colorful. Using preserved turkey feathers, you can create a wonderful centerpiece or framed work of art.

Things You'll Need

  • Turkey feather
  • Hair dryer
  • Permanone insect repellent
  • Soft-bristle duster

Clean the feather. Using warm water with no soap, carefully clean the feather to remove any dirt, dust or blood. Stroke from the quill upward to prevent damage to the feather. Dry the feather with a blow dryer set on the lowest heat setting, as high heat can make the feather brittle.

Preen the feather. Holding onto the quill, use your free hand to carefully shape the feather by running it between your thumb and forefinger. Once the feather is in the desired shape, "preen" it by spraying it with a permanone insect repellent on both sides. These insect repellents are usually waterproof, since they go on clothing for outdoor use, and will keep humidity and moisture from damaging the feather. In addition, the repellent keeps hungry insects away from the feather. Let the repellent dry completely before handling the feather.

Keep it safe. The key to preserving a feather once it has been shaped and sprayed is to keep it out of direct sunlight. Dust the feather every couple of months with a soft duster to keep it clean.

Protect it permanently. Frame your feather with a shadow-box or put it in a display case to keep it protected for as long as you own it. Glass that filters ultraviolet light should be used when possible. This will prevent damage from sunlight and will keep the feather's colors bright.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure to keep your feather clean. Mites enjoy snacking on dry feathers, so using an insect repellent is suggested. If you can't use an insect repellent, make sure to dust the feather on a monthly basis to prevent mite infestations.

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