Have you ever received a Valentine’s Day gift that changed your life? Twenty-five years ago, my friend Nancy did. Her husband Frank knew she loved birds, and he brought home a brilliant red macaw. Fiesty Ralph is going strong at age 25, since his life expectancy is over 80. A bit camera shy at first, Ralph looked over his shoulder while I captured this photo.
Ralph wanted to be photographed. He squawked so loud that I jumped when we carried two other macaws outside by the swimming pool to be photographed first. He trembled when I came near him, but he showed me his brilliant colors. We were in Naples, Florida where the weather is like summer year-round. Macaws are native to Brazil, so the Naples life suits them, much more so than Ralph’s birthplace, Chicago. A wide f-stop blurred the background, putting the emphasis on the subject. The 4pm natural light was perfect.
When Nancy began caring for Ralph, she researched macaws and became fascinated by the blue Hyacinth Macaw. Now she has three blues, two males and a female. I photographed Tony (left) and Capo (right) on this orchid stand.
While they look like twins, Tony and Capo are not related. They are both around 15 years old, but Capo is from Napa Valley, and Tony is from Naples, Florida. These blue birds are gentle giants, mellow in personality, and quite talkative with the family. They speak in complete sentences in a cadence that rises and falls like human speech.
Here is a close-up of Tony and Capo. Isn’t genetics amazing?
Ralph is giving Nancy a high-five. In this photo, you can see his long tail feathers.
Here are Nancy and Frank with their blue macaws, Tony and Capo. Quite an extraordinary family.