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What is Black?

Now it’s not always one gets to investigate multiple species of birds that belong to one colour slice – but I had just the opportunity some weeks ago. One morning there seemed to be nothing showing but black birds. Fortunately the overcast conditions lent to my camera sensor absorbing as much subtle colour as possible from these superficially black birds.

I say superficially black as that’s the first instinct, you see them from a distance and sure enough, they look like black dots flitting around; in the case of the Blue-black Grassquit it’s a black dot that’s hopping up and down. But it isn’t called Blue-black Grassquit for nothing. In the light showers and soft light, those blues really pop.

blue black grassquit










Many years ago, I used to confuse the male Shiny Cowbird with the male White-lined Tanager. But it just took one instance of seeing the real essence behind that shine – it’s almost as if the bird was dipped in some sort of purple oil – to never mix the two up again. Please make sure to view the images large to really appreciate the finer details.

shiny cowbird-3










Two species of Ani call T&T home, the more common and smaller of the two being the Smooth-billed Ani. This particular individual’s attempt to dry its feathers after a short shower presented an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Although it doesn’t have the myriad of blues and purples as the other two birds above. it’s the intricate feather detail that gets me every time.

smooth billed ani-3







We were thrilled to hear the raucous calls of the Smooth-billed’s cousin – the larger, enigmatic and charismatic Greater Ani. Around twice the size of the Smooth-billed Ani, this is a pretty imposing bird. Its vocalizations sound like a mix between that of a Grey-necked Wood-Rail and a dying fowl. Uncommonly seen, they can be skittish birds – but if one gets close enough, their white eyes will look straight through you.

greater ani 16x9






And get them in the open under the right light – that iridescence is something you wouldn’t forget easily. No photo manipulation here. This is the extravagance of nature herself.

greater ani

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