Bird Dome

This is a bird dome with 15 different birds perching on little brown tree branches. The dome sits on a black tray which is situated on a grey counter.
A bird dome from the Eldon House collection

Country of Origin: Canada
Year: ca. 1880
Materials: Glass, wood, plant material, bird, glass, dye

While Eldon House accepts very few pieces into our collection, occasionally items are accepted that bear significance to the community or are example of Victorian practices. This beautiful piece was created around 1880 by a local man, William Cave.

The bird dome contains 16 different specimens from southwestern Ontario, including a bluebird, finch, and barn sparrow. Some of the birds may have had a dye added to their feathers to enhance the colour, including a small hummingbird on the right side of the dome. This one has some vibrant greens and purples on the throat and chest, which is not typical of this bird. Additionally, Mr. Cave constructed the central perch using wood and additional moss and lichen to make it seem more authentic.

The Victorians were very interested in the natural world and preserving it through taxidermy. Victorian people would often use taxidermized animals in home décor, art, and clothing. The process involved using organic materials to stuff the items, though the process could be quite dangerous often using chemicals like arsenic for preservation. This means museum staff must continue to be careful in our conversation of any taxidermy material.