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Girls, Girls, Girls

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone made that joke about the kinds of birds I go looking for. It’s one of those jokes that probably was funny under a certain circumstance, once, eons ago. It’s not offensive or anything (to me at least, I can’t speak for any avian glares that may ensue), but it’s like that Hispanic buddy named Jesus who’s constantly given bottles of water with the expectation that they’d suddenly change chemical composition.

Anyway, in writing yesterday’s post I realized how many female hummingbirds I ended up photographing. Today I’m still stuck on females – but we’re looking outside the hummingbird family. Closer relatives of the tanagers, honeycreepers are famous for their flashy colours and funky attitude. Ask even a novice birder to identify any of the three honeycreeper species we have here in T&T and it’s child’s play. Green Honeycreeper is green, Purple Honeycreeper is purple, and Red-legged Honeycreeper – you guessed it – has red legs.

But it’s all plain, simple and straightforward with the males. I don’t know if I’ll raise a hornet’s nest here, but it gets a little more complicated with the females. If you can find them, that is. In charge of rearing the young, they are designed to melt into the forest canopy, away from prying eyes. Let the brightly coloured male put his life on the line, after all, he’s just a bloody show-off, isn’t he?

The female Purple Honeycreeper only has a very subtle purple undertone. She’s by far one of the most colourful female birds, in general – yet still is difficult to spot from a distance.

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Most folks go for the clean portrait type of image when photographing birds. Sure, that’s tasteful, and very often makes a lovely piece of wall art that features a bird that pops out at the viewer. But there’s no other way to show the effectiveness of camouflage than to show the bird where it blends in perfectly with its surroundings. The red legs of this bird gives away her identification as a Red-legged Honeycreeper.

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It’s truly amazing to observe how well these brightly coloured birds blend in with the various shades of green in the forest canopy. Luckily for the Green Honeycreeper, the female is still, well, green.

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