Photographing Macaws

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Macaws of the world

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Macaws come in various shapes and a multitude of color variations. They are often kept as pets and you can easily find them at most zoos as well as in other tourist attractions. but nothing betas photographing these majestic birds in their wild habitats interacting with it and with each other. But first things first; what is exactly a macaw?

"Macaws are small to large, often colourful New World parrots. Of the many different Psittacidae (true parrots) genera, six are classified as macaws: Ara,Anodorhynchus, Cyanopsitta, Primolius, Orthopsittaca, and Diopsittaca. Previously, the members of the genus Primolius were placed in Propyrrhura, but the former is correct in accordance with ICZN rules. Macaws are native to Mexico, Central America, South America, and formerly the Caribbean. Most species are associated with forests, especially rainforests, but others prefer woodland or savannah-like habitats....There are 18 species of Macaws, including extinct and critically endangered species. In addition, there are several hypothetical extinct species that have been proposed based on very little evidence." Wikipedia

However fun and exotic the habitat might be it is quite reasonable to record images in a zoo or nature preserve simply because e of the ease of access, the ability to be relatively close to them and the expenses involved. Traveling to a native location is rather expensive and involves a lot of planing. Captive animals provide a viable alternative and a much cheaper rate.

At most zoos or preserves you will only need a regular zoom lens in the range of around 80mm. If doing the project in the wild you will then need a longer zoom in the range of about 400mm to get close ups and because these birds are probably not too used to the presence of people and can become quite nervous when approached, the contrary is true with captive animals.

Do make a concerted effort to get close ups of their majestic plumage which is often very colorful, almost rainbow looking as well as thier facial areas since they can be very expressive.

Other images that are very representative of their general behaviors are those that show them climbing on tree branches and upon their man made structures.

There are two variations to the captive theme; one is to record images that shows them within their surroundings and these type of photos are good for tourist publications and the industry. For a more natural style of photographing them aim to closely crop your subjects so that almost none of their man made surrounding appearing on your final images.

If you however, are lucky enough to be able to take a trip to any of the exotic locations that macaws call home then portraying them in interactions with the habitat is a must.

Of special note should be scenes when they congregate in large numbers such as when they visit clay deposits which they use to obtain certain minerals from the clay which they eagerly eat and it appears that this behavior is the macaws way of neutralizing certain toxins found in their diet.

"Some foods eaten by macaws in the wild contain toxic or caustic substances which they are able to digest. It has been suggested that parrots and macaws in the Amazon basin eat clay from exposed river banks to neutralize these toxins." Wikipedia

Macaws often like to playfully interact with each other and can be quite amusing. They are known to skillfully dispatch seeds and other foods quite quickly and almost graciously. very god images can be obtained form scenes of the consuming various food articles. Make an effort to also photograph these behaviors.


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Not only will macaws provide you with very pleasing and very beautiful and very colorful images, but their photographs have a wide birth of possible uses in various commercial enterprises.

The more unusual, funny, and creative your images are the better your changes of making a sale.

Do not concentrate solely of one or two main genus of macaws. There are several other species that are mostly of a single color but are nevertheless strikingly in their beauty such as the scarlet macaws.

There are also several species of various sizes including the size of a parakeet. Contact your local preserves and other attractions about their macaw specimens.

Also good is to contact exotic bird pet stores or aviaries as they often have subjects which may be not be available at some of the smaller zoos.

A good and more comprehensive photographic project should include as many samples of as many species as possible.

This will make you project that much more appealing to an editor and increases your changes of making a big sale and not just selling some of the images but probably all of your images at once.

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 5 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Very interesting information and beautiful photos! Wildlife refuges and zoos are two of my favorite places to take pictures. These are such beautiful birds. Voted up and interesting. Have a great day! :)


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

There certainly are a lot of different types of these birds. What a beautiful bird in general. Enjoyed the hub topic and descriptive photographic details


DyanmiteWWE profile image

DyanmiteWWE 4 years ago from Glasgow

Great amount of information! you have a real talent in writing especially in such description.


Denver5280Click profile image

Denver5280Click 4 years ago from Denver Colorado

Beautiful photos of these wild birds, the Macaw is a great subject matter. Wild bird conservation is needed to save the Macaw, I hope this article gets a lot of internet exposure!


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

Somebody in Clearwater Fl, had a cage with regular parakeets and the cage door came open and they excaped up to a water tower. That was years ago. They travel in groups and are mean. Cute but mean. Nobody feeds them.

Like this hub. AD

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