[Skip to content] [Skip to main navigation] [Skip to user navigation] [Skip to global search] [Accessibility information] [Contact us]

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!

  • Scarlet Macaw Before Conservation, The dusty, deteriorated feathers are in need of a clean!
    The dusty, deteriorated feathers are in need of a clean!

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.

  • Scarlet Macaw Conservation, Blow drying the Macaws feathers...
    Blow drying the Macaws feathers...

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!

  • Scarlet Macaw After Conservation, The Macaw cleaned, repaired and ready for exhibition
    The Macaw cleaned, repaired and ready for exhibition