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The Times Magazine - October 2015


Who’s a pretty boy, then?
Monique Rivalland

For Wonder, a rare albino turkey vulture, life can be trying. His terrible eyesight means that “he is afraid of his own shadow”, says Australian photographer Leila Jeffreys. He was found face down in the snow in Michigan and is now at a Californian rescue centre, where Jeffreys took his portrait. “There is a gentleness to him that makes me melt,” she says.

Jeffreys has spent more than ten years travelling the world and finding rescue birds to pose for her, and has compiled a book, Bird Love. In it, we are introduced to Tani, the 11-year-old masked owl, who has expressions “so like ours” that Jeffreys felt as though she were photographing “a small human wrapped in a shawl”. And Neville, the naughty pink cockatoo (above), who looks as if he is posing for his mug shot.

Some of Jeffreys’ sitters were more agreeable than others. The finches were incessant fidgets and Pepper the owl preferred the floor to her perch. But the boldest was Oscar the parrot, who would “open his wings up, revealing the lovely colours underneath,” says Jeffreys, “as if he were trying to woo a lady”.

Bird Love by Leila Jeffreys (Abrams, £19.99) is out now