Shapes and Colours

19th September 2019

Choco Toucan

The black, yellow and the fine green.

Birds have excellent colour vision. If you find the composition appealing, you are not alone. The females toucan do, too. It is in fact one of the reasons we can look at it.

Birds even sacrifice practicalities of life for the looks. That means the aesthetics plays a part. It is the females who decide what is to their liking and therefore attractive. Getting it closer gets you noticed more.

People have speeded up how they do their adjustments for good looks together with most of their fashion views of the time. With the birds it is changing on a slower side, in order of thousand to millions of years. The fact that they do so remains, though. Some  birds focus more on this and take it into truly extravagant heights. Some films about the birds of paradise show this. One practicality gets prioritised over the other here. What catches our (human’s) attention, is the taste with which it’s been done.

Ecuador (NR)

The same male  displaying minutes later


19th September 2019

Aracari III

Toucans are more related to woodpeckers (the order’s name is also derived from the woodpeckers) than to rather similar hornbills that are a subgroup of a different order.

Their similarity is an example of evolutionary convergence. We see this in nature all the time. It is when similar conditions and interactions form similar forms as opposed to similarities that come as a result of close relations in the genetic sense (in different conditions).

On the other hand, conditions will form totally unlike forms among the species that are genetically closely related. So where the genetics is a timeline and record that gives information and tells us a meaningful story, the conditions and interactions are the ultimate sculptors of the form regardless of the material.


 The Hornbill

10 April 2017

Close to Myanmar border, in a valley with a water hole and patches of marshland stands an old benjamin fig.

After six days of searching we found a pair of hornbills preparing for nesting here (these belong to northern ssp. Oriental Pied and Great Hornbill). They were coming regularly to the tree to feed on its fruit alongside gibbons and other hornbills.

It was special experience to see them both in the tree, sometimes on the same branch next to each other. I think it could take a few years of shooting by this tree to capture this moment in a good photograph. Or a great luck. Maybe I will have it one day.

This was our best chance to photograph the birds that were our everyday companions, mostly seen flying among the trees and over the landscape, high or deep in the trees. Or heard in the thicket of the jungle making you even duck when the (very) loud sound of their wings exploded overhead and listening to their primeval hooting calls.



Male Great Hornbill in the Banyan tree feeding on fruit. Relatively low exposures and forest interior pose a challenge to the camera sensor. A different location further south.


The resident female


Another pair visiting the tree (4/9)


But she likes caring for him more than receiving the figs.

(The resident pair.)


The First Rays


The lady hornbill also feeds by herself. Within moments she swallowed 6 figs.


After several exchanges the female eats the fig.

Early morning.


The resident male working on the opening of the nesting hollow

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