From Canada to Ecuador and Australia: Canadian bird photographer Glenn Bartley takes us on a colorful journey and shares with us some of his favorite bright birds (Disclaimer: mood enhancing content).
Seeing dozens of spectacular Macaws flying around the Amazon, squawking away, is an incredible spectacle to behold. These birds congregate at special clay licks daily to consume the essential earth. This may be to aid in the digestion of the slightly toxic seeds and fruits they eat. Others believe that it is the salt in the clay that the birds are after. Whatever the specific reason is, it is amazing to see such stunning birds flying around wild and free.
If you follow my work, you know that I love hummingbirds! Where I live in British Columbia, Canada, we are fortunate to have two species of hummingbirds. But only the Anna’s stays all year round. Which is quite incredible when you consider the fact that we get multiple cold snaps each winter, where the temperature drops well below freezing. It always amazes me that these feisty little birds can survive the long cold winter nights by slipping into “torpor” and doing a mini hibernation each and every night.
This is a bird that certainly lives up to its name! But to capture this flash of iridescence in an image, it requires quite a bit of patience and the perfect angle. Many people might not realize that hummingbirds have a lot of control over their feathers and can choose if they want to display them to scare off a rival or attract a mate.
For me, it is almost impossible to pick a favorite Tanager. There are simply way too many species with unbelievable color combinations and patterns. However, there is something special about the Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager. That combination of vibrant red and blue in contrast with the velvety black makes this guy always exciting to see.
To me, toucans always remind me of the link between birds and dinosaurs. I think it has to do with the orbital skin around their menacing looking eyes and their aggressive looking bills that just looks prehistoric. There is no mistaking a Toucan when you see one! And they are always fun to observe and to photograph.
Iridescence is a magical thing. As light interacts with microscopic structures within the feathers of these incredible birds, some wavelengths are absorbed, and others bounce back. It is an incredible process, and few birds show off the magic of iridescence better than the Velvet-purple Coronet. With a minute change in the bird’s position, what once was black changes to the most vibrant purple in an instant. Before you come to terms with that beautiful color, the bird moves again and now appears turquoise or blue. It is a bird I will never get tired of watching or photographing – It truly is one of the most wonderful Hummingbirds out there!
A denizen of the high Andes, the Rainbow-bearded Thornbill is a stunning bird to see! While some birds advertise their colors freely and constantly, others, such as this one, must be seen from just the right angle and in just the right light to truly appreciate their splendor. When you look at this little stunner with your SWAROVSKI OPTIK optics and it turns its head to just the right angle, it will be a birding memory that will live on for a long, long time.
Found throughout the tropical regions of the world, the Barbets are real stunners! They have a menacing look about them though. Which is perhaps why for the viral video game Angry Birds, a Barbet was selected as one of its main characters.
Although not from the New World, I could not help but include this charming little bird from Australia. It is hard to imagine a more vibrant blue than the electric shades of color seen in this tiny little bird. They certainly are not trying very hard to camouflage, that is for sure!
All of the Mountain Toucans are spectacular. But if I had to pick one as my favorite, it would be the Plate-billed. There is something about the crazy combination of colors that makes these masters of the cloud forest to my favorite tropical birds.
The world is blessed with an absolutely dazzling selection of stunningly colorful birds. Especially if you head into winter in the Northern hemisphere when you read this, I hope this article has added some joy and color to your day!
Glenn Bartley is a bird photographer from Victoria, BC, Canada. He focuses almost all his efforts on capturing intimate portraits of birds in their natural environment. Glenn also leads photo tours throughout the Neotropics and is the author of the recently released book “Hummingbirds: A Celebration of Nature’s Jewels”.
To see more of Glenn’s work, visit his website.