The Lab of Ornithology has a skinning lab that I, of course, find incredibly fascinating and useful. While specimens aren't the best reference for helping one capture live movement and feel, it is really useful to be able to see the subject in person. Skinning on the other hand is even more informative. It helps you gain an understanding of anatomy such as skeleton, feather tracts, feet, wings in different positions, etc. A couple of Fridays again, I experienced my first ever skinning. They started me off with a robin. It was really old and sitting in the freezer since 2006 so it wasn't the best one to start off on. So we decided to skin this for a spread wing sample and skeleton rather than a stuffed specimen for the collection. This was actually great because it gave me a chance to get a feel for skinning without having to make sure I didn't rip or damage the skin. Took a bit of pressure off. One of my favorite parts was observing how and where feathers attach on the tail. This will be so helpful when drawing the bird with a poor photo reference.
Here are some pictures I took of birds in the collection and the skinning. Some of the pics can be a bit graphic. Sorry about that!