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Missing Tring Birds

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#1 jgogg


    Jim Goggans

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 01:17 PM

"The skins still outstanding include those of the following species: Haematoderus militaris, Pyroderus scutatus, Cotinga amabilis, C. cotinga, C. maculata, C. cayana, Pharamachrus mocinno, P. antisianus, P. auriceps, Sericulus aureus, Ptiloris magnificus, Lophorina superba and Cicinnurus regius."


This list came to me in a note from Dr. Alex Bond, the chief curator of the bird section at the Museum in Tring.


My take away from this list is that traditional tiers will likely only encounter provenance issues with the Fruit crows and "Chatterers". Maybe the Magnificient Riflebird as well.   The Crimson fruit crow is not called for in traditional flies. The quetzals can be avoided by using a substitute, such as dyed emu.  The Flame Bowerbird isn't called for (that I can recall.  Seems Kelson mentioned it, however)  the Superb Bird of Paradise is not called for.  Nor is the King Bird of Paradise.


One way to be sure of avoiding the stolen feathers is to purchase those feathers that you can observe being taken from an obvious taxidermy mount.  After that, I am at a loss.  Individual feathers just don't come with identifiers.  If you buy, you have to trust your seller to know where they came from.


For my own peace of mind I know that I purchased my loose cotinga and fruit crow feathers long before the Tring theft.  With one exception when I purchased a group of feathers from a retiring tier that I know also purchased them long before the theft. (He had quit tying before the theft).


I am so sorry this is hanging over my beloved hobby.  I may hope that those who harbor the remaining skins will come to their senses, realize the harm they are doing to us all and return the remaining birds to the Museum.

Darwin award winner of flytying

#2 Classic Salmon Fly Tyer

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 06:03 PM



Most interesting...as was your previous post on this subject a few days ago.


My personal history in this hobby follows a stuttering start some 40 years ago +or-. I received a little help from Harry Darbee about how to marry feathers along with a look at many of the materials used in tying these flies...including an Indian Crow patch which once belonged to Theodore Gordon...but nothing for sale. After a few futile years trying to find what I needed along with very little or no info available except from rare and expensive books I gave up on tying classics for many years. Then I read an article in Fly Tyer Magazine 5 maybe 6 years ago which lead me to John McLain. After that original 90 minute phone call I was finally able to obtain a good selection of materials from him to get me started. That combined with the internet was my ticket to learning how to do what was always in the back of my mind as a tyer...try tying classic Atlantic Salmon flies. I'd also managed to find and collect a few books which are/were the mainstay of the classic salmon fly tying world.


All that said, there was this longing to tie with "the real thing" and not just substitutes. I managed to find and buy a few things from known, respected and legitimate purveyors. Those few feathers were so dearly priced they have become more collectible than usable...but I have reached the point in my work that I am going to tie a few special flies for my personal satisfaction using those feathers...it will be fun and probably a little exhilarating!!


As my involvement in this segment of the tying world grew, I became less enamored with getting those exotic feathers from who knows where...and more and more satisfied to tie my flies with substitutes for crow, chatterer, toucan, etc, etc. I only hope that those skins around that are still intact can be returned to their proper place in The Tring Museum. The public at large has a notoriously short memory...but something tells me it will be some time...if ever...before this disappears from the memories in the salmon fly tying community. We shall see.


But in the meantime, like you I tie with confidence that the materials I am using are totally acceptable!!!


Finally...in these ensuing 5 or 6 years John McLain has become a good friend. I've had the pleasure of visiting him in his home in Michigan. Same goes for Jon Kopczyk, Gordeaux and a good number of other people both near and far.



Petri Heil,



"I've spent many days on the golf course and said I should have gone fishing.

But I've NEVER been on a trout stream or Atlantic Salmon river and said I should have played golf." - Me

#3 Barkworth


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Posted 16 May 2018 - 06:31 PM

The Flame Bowerbird is Kelson's Golden Bird of Paradise. The Bowerbirds were classified as Birds of Paradise before they were classified as a unique species instead of a subspecies. The tail for the Silver Ardea uses these feathers, and there are a few other patterns. King Bird of Paradise is extremely popular with creative tiers, and Hewitt Wheatley calls for a pair for his notorious #8 pattern. I have handles a few of these mounts, and was able to confirm that the pairs on the outmost sides under the wings, are identical to 12 Wired Bird of Paradise ruff feathers, ruling out that Wheatley misidentified the feathers he was using, and depicted in the plate for that fly. 


My advice is similar: taxidermy is safe. If it doesn't have glass eyes, stay away from it. Other than that, I don't really get all the commotion. Hanging over our hobby, you say? How? Whom ever I meet here in my house has no clue about salmon flies. This is the loneliest hobby I have ever had. For comparison, I own a tanning salon, and everybody I mention this too, responds with "ah, you have one of those cancer boxes?". It isn't like anybody goes "ah, rob any museums, lately?"...




the reference guide for traditional salmon fly tying...


#4 jgogg


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Posted 16 May 2018 - 07:02 PM

How hanging over our hobby?  Well, for the moment it is in the consciousness of those that have read the book or a review of it.  But, I had in mind those that may yet take up the hobby.  I wonder how many potential feather wing salmon fly tiers will be discouraged?  I really enjoy tying the flies and would wish others the same pleasure.  I can't see how this helps....

Darwin award winner of flytying

#5 Marc LeBlanc

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 01:13 AM

I sure hope the missing birds show up but realistically I am not convinced they ever will.

This will cast a cloud over us for decades to come I am afraid to say......

If my wishes comes true, the owners of the missing birds will do whats right and return them to the Tring.

Thanks Jim!


#6 jgogg


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Posted 19 May 2018 - 03:38 AM

"King Bird of Paradise is extremely popular with creative tiers, and Hewitt Wheatley calls for a pair for his notorious #8 pattern." 


Interesting thought.  I love creative flies and have never used King Bird of Paradise.  Nor tied any of Wheatley's eight flies.  (Not very interesting).  So, I'll stick with not called for.  Or, at a minimum, not needed; easy to avoid stolen feathers...

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#7 arkle



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Posted 19 May 2018 - 09:49 AM

Although my copy of the book, only arrived yesterday I've not really had a chance to look at it. Though I gather I'm mentioned in it which should be no surprise as I provided many hours of info etc.  I have my doubts if many, read hardly any of the "missing" birds will ever be returned now, especially as I expect many of them have "parted company" from their natural owners skins & been sold/put into "collections". 


I.m.h.o. Rist got let off, VERY lightly & as far as I'm concerned, he did not display any symptoms of Asperger's during his stay with me.  If someone had done this in the U.S. they would be in prison to this day & well beyond.

#8 Bud Guidry

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 02:17 PM

Well this is beating a dead horse
No joke
Let's talk about something more interesting like who shot kennedy?

Arkle, thumbs up, well said





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My heart belongs to my family
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#9 GPT


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Posted 20 May 2018 - 03:46 PM

One more item here (sorry, Bud) - an interview with the author of the book:  https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/a-flautist--299-stuffed-birds--and-the-bizarre-crime-of-an-obses/


Was informative to me, since I'm not buying the book.


#10 wsbailey


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Posted 15 August 2018 - 06:59 PM

My apologies: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/654/the-feather-heist