This Scarlet Macaw needed to be cleaned to remove dust and dirt, and have repairs made to its split skin, before being displayed in our new exhibition, Amazon Adventure.
The Macaw was first cleaned with a museum vacuum. This is a type of vacuum cleaner that has adjustable suction and allows for a gentler clean than your average household Hoover!
However, in the case of the Macaw, the dirt was embedded and a deeper clean was needed.
One of the cleaning techniques for dirty feathers involves wetting individual feathers in a solution of water and alcohol. Then the solution is gently swabbed across the feather in the direction of the barbs, onto absorbent blotting paper. This process picks up embedded dirt that is trapped in the barbs and barbules. The feathers then need to be dried.
An special hairdryer with a cool heat setting is angled at the feathers, which gently manipulated so that the barbs 'zip' up and any remaining water and solvent solution evaporates. The results of this 'blow dry' are cleaner, reshaped feathers and a brighter, tidier looking specimen for the exhibition!