All of our board members volunteer their time to support TRC through various board member functions. But the board members have passions for the rainforests and its creatures that go beyond running an organization that saves them. Meet board member John Delevoryas who follows his passion for tropical birds all the way down to the rain forests. We are excited to share his passion here with his stunning tropical bird photographs, sounds and adventures to get these photos for the world to see.
The Trek for the Lek of the Male Cock-of-the-Rock in Mindo, Ecuador
Picture a beautiful twelve-inch deep scarlet or orange-red bird with a disk-like crest almost covering the bill, orange eyes, black tail and wings which have inner pearly-gray feathers, and you have the subject of an early morning jaunt to try for a photograph.
It was 4:30 A.M. and we were up at 6,000 feet. Over the course of an hour, my guide and I were driven up a precipitous dirt road filled with deep ruts to the entrance of a jungle trail which would lead to the lek (a gathering place of male birds who display) of the famed Cock-of-the-Rock. It was still an hour's walk on a narrow trail in total darkness, except for the feeble glow of a flashlight, the final one hundred feet consisting of a 75 degree vertical ascent only a foot or so wide! Veering off this path literally meant death into a deep gorge. My guide took my heavy camera while I struggled with both hands and legs, losing my flashlight on the way. We finally reached a tiny "platform" on top. At 6:00 A.M., a group of ten or so birds suddenly appeared, loudly squawking and squealing like pigs, a few perching within camera range; before I could line one up for a passable picture, it moved. I did manage one shot at a distance. Since it was a little hard to make out, we've included a daylight shot to better capture the splendor of this bird. Within moments the festive display had come to an end, along with the photo opportunity. Incredibly, my guide found my flashlight on the descent!
Meet John Delevoryas
After receiving the Rosenberg and Loeb prizes for outstanding pianism upon graduating from the Juilliard School of Music in 1949, Delevoryas joined the piano faculty of its Preparatory Division. In 1955 he accepted a position on the faculty of the music department at San Jose State University, where he performed and taught piano (also theory and music appreciation), eventually becoming Chairman of the Keyboard Division, until his retirement in 1990. During his tenure there, he performed numerous solo recitals, in chamber-music groups, and as soloist with orchestras in the United States and in Europe. In March, 2000, he collaborated with Bin Huang, distinguished violinist, in the three sonatas for violin and piano by Johannes Brahms. CD's are available.
Bird photography emerged as an avocation stemming from a lifelong passion for birds which was instilled in him by his mother. From 1985 to the present, he has traveled to every continent except Antarctica, at first with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris, and from 1996, on his own. He states: "To see a bird is one thing; to capture its image is an endless quest." It is a privilege to be able to share these images with all of you dedicated to preserving the rainforests where these marvelous creatures live!
by John Delevoryas
My love for birds goes back to my childhood when my mother introduced us to them by pointing them out and having us purchase small cards from Perry Pictures Company in Boston, Massachusetts. One memorable summer, an Orchard Oriole suspended his sac-like nest from a huge oak tree in our yard and we saw the cycle from building the nest to the time the immature birds fledged.
Much later, when I could afford it, I bought a pair of binoculars which unveiled the many personalities of these creatures close-up. Because of their inherent fear of man, they frustrated our attempts to touch and hold them. Now, as pets and through mist-netting, people do handle them, but they are prisoners. It is not the same as being close to them in the wild. I feel photography is the means to capture their images in their native habitats.
The greatest variety of colorful birds abounds in the tropics, particularly the tropical rainforests. Photography of birds there is a difficult challenge, but with improved equipment, it is a most exhilarating experience to "touch" them for a few seconds, leave without spooking them, eventually share their images with others, and once in a while, having one fly into close range, as if it was posing for the camera!
As indicators of the health of our planet, how much longer will they be with us to flash their colors and sing their songs?