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Photo Series;Toucans

Updated on June 17, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

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Toucans have some of the most amazing beaks in all of the entire bird world and having the opportunity of photographing one is truly a great experience.

But unless you have the means and time to travel to the Amazon or anywhere in the world where they can be found in their natural habitat you are just going to have to settle for recording these beautiful creatures at you local zoos or nature preserve.

If you do not know what a toucan is or perhaps you have never seen one up close, then you should do a bit of research into their habits and browse some images, therefore obtaining a better idea of how to approach a photographic project involving these creatures.

Here is some information in regards to toucans taken directly from the Net. "Toucans are members of the family Ramphastidae of near passerine birds from the Neotropics. The Ramphastidae family is most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and about forty different species. The name of this bird group is derived from the Tupi word tukana, via Portuguese.[1] Wikipedia

"Toucans are native to Southern Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean region. They generally live in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They make their nests in tree hollows and holes excavated by other animals such as woodpeckers—the toucan bill has very limited use as an excavation tool." Wikipedia

When approaching this project first locate your nearest zoo and ask if they have toucans on display, once you find a suitable location make sure to take a zoom lens and a flash unit since most exhibits where these majestic birds are kept are usually under large trees or dense foliage closely mimicking their natural habitat.

Keep you lens aperture to its largest size as allowed by your lens since you should aim to capture the subject and blur the background. First aim your camera at the toucan's body which is mostly envelope in black feathers and lock the readings, otherwise your subject may appear as if underexposed in its plumage .

Also focus on its eyes which can often be black but surrounded by bright blues or greens. these images are nothing short of spectacular in most cases. Include the entire beak along with the face and parts of the body to get the best images possible.

You will find most of your subjects to be reliably tranquil and recording their images should not be that difficult. However, it is best to record their images form some distance so as not to disturb them by getting to close to their enclosure. If the location has wire fencing as part of the enclosure and you notice that your camera records these, then you can use a smaller zoom (about 80mm) and get really close to this wire. By using a large aperture and by virtue of being close to it, the wire will "magically" disappear from the images.

Toucans have been a very popular subject both with adults and children and there are even some products which feature them prominently, think breakfast cereal.

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There are about 47 genus of toucans and all are just as beautiful and photogenic. They can be found in parts of Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and especially in the Amazon Rain forest.

If taking a trip to one of these locations try to look for photo ops. You are bound to find many more diversity in scenes than what you may be able to with captive species.

A good project would involve images from all or at least a majority of them but many images from a single subject or genus can be just as good.

These images make excellent subjects for nature publications, calendars, photographic stock houses and many other publications.

They can also be shown at fine art galleries and sold as individual framed prints.

A visit to your local zoos will more than likely feature several products which prominently feature a toucan as its main point of focus.

Although an image of single toucans is pleasing by itself, try to look for interaction among pairs and when eating. Also look for hollows in tree trunks as they make their nest int these and raise their young on it too until they are ready to venture out.

Toucans are mostly fruit eaters but will opportunistically consume insects and other smaller prey. If the enclosure features fruits position yourself to record the moment when they take the fruit in their beaks and proceed to eating it.

Avoid including parts of the food container, best to wait until they pick it up and raise their bill to force the food down the "hatch".

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CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • GrepoTWPlayer profile image

      GrepoTWPlayer 5 years ago from Ireland

      very interesting stuff here.and thanks for the comment!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Pamela: One of the things that I have done in the past has been to actually buy some specimens and donate them to my local zoo. Most of the time they will take them or ship them to other zoos. At least there there is a semblance of "freedom" and they receive very good treatment.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Beautiful birds, these Toucans. One of the saddest days of my life was when I walked into a huge pet store in one of the suburbs of Phoenix. (Chandler or Gilbert or one of those cities within Phoenix metro.) There were at least a hundred caged gorgeous tropical birds. They will never know flight and freedom. Many of the birds were toucans.

      But then there's the dilemma -- once the birds are already trapped and facing a life they were never meant for -- should a person try to give them a good home or just leave them there in the pet store and hope someone else comes along and gives them a good home? Or what if someone awful, someone who will keep them caged up all the time, comes and buys the bird? This hub of yours reminded me of all that.

      Great hub. Voting up and interesting.

    • spangen profile image

      spangen 5 years ago from Woodstock, Ontario

      Fascinating species! I love the idea that they capture the essence of 'tropical wild'.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      I have always thought these were very unique and interesting birds. I like your photos very much. Rated up.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I love these birds and enjoy watching them at the zoo. Your close up (fourth one down) is a great catch of the bird's face and makes it look like he has something to say. Voted up and interesting.

    • onegreenparachute profile image

      Carol 5 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      A very informative and well-written hub.

      We toured the forests of Costa Rica and were able to see these beautiful birds in the wild. I'll never forget watching a toucan steal a piece of bacon from my plate! He tossed it in the air and caught it in his huge beak. I was also amazed at their blue legs and feet.

      I wish I'd had your camera tips then!