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Wildlife Camera » Easier bird photos in the aviary

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Easier bird photos in the aviary

14 November 2009


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Barn owls

Birdkeeping is much the same as ever it was, but taking photographs of aviary birds has changed dramatically. Today’s digital cameras make it wonderfully easy.

I was thinking about this when comparing the price of a couple of pairs of canaries I had been offered with the price of a new camera. The birds – sight unseen, no pedigree, no guarantees – were £30 each, plus £65 for the courier, a total of £185. The latest zoom camera would cost about the same, and it’s guaranteed to arrive alive!

The camera comes with built-in telephoto lens, auto focus, anti-shake, flash, instant viewing of the pictures which can be enriched colour or half-a-dozen other variations, the ability to shoot video clips, on-board instructions in 12 languages – the list would fill the page, all guaranteed.

So why don’t we see better photographs of cage and aviary birds?  The answer seems to be more about scene-setting rather than technology. Wire netting is not a glamorous background and most aviaries are built for keeping birds rather than displaying them.

Recently I was walking around Wolfgang Kiessling’s brilliant Loro Parque on Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, admiring the world’s finest parrot collection but wishing that there were more photo opportunities. There are 353 different species of parrot at Loro Parque, and most of them breed successfully, but the ideal breeding accommodation just isn’t photogenic – a 20X10 wire-mesh aviary tucked into the shade of the sub-tropical trees. I came home with a lot of pictures of the wire, not many of the birds.

When designing your own aviary, it’s worth keeping the camera in mind. Some clear plastic sheeting overhead to avoid shadows, a plain green wall with a twig in front, and a pophole for the lens – the result, great pictures. And barn owls look wonderful against black.

Copyright, text and photo, Willy Newlands.
 


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