The annual “Bird Photographer of the Year” competition, hosted by the British Trust for Ornithology, invites experts and amateurs to submit their best snapshots of our fine, feathered friends. As the Guardian reports, the organization recently released a beautiful book featuring the shortlisted and winning images from this year’s competition. The photographs capture birds in all their vibrant, diverse glory, and highlight the creativity and ingenuity of the humans behind the camera.
With the goal of monitoring birds across the UK, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) recruits both professional scientists and volunteer birdwatchers, who are united by their shared passion for the avian species. And that passion is reflected in the photo competition’s winning images, which revel in their subjects' detailed plumage, powerful wingspans, and charming quirks. Markus Varesvuo, for instance, captured a haunting, black-and-white image of a grey owl in flight, its wings thrust forward, its eyes wide. In a photo by Vince Burton, a common kingfisher with a tubby belly hurls a fish into the air, waiting below with its beak open.
The images span continents and ecosystems—from Australian mangrove swamps, to sandy expanse in Kuwait, to a backyard in the U.K.—and showcase a range of birdie behaviors: a puffy reedling clinging to a frosty branch in Finland, two common coots battling over territory, a cluster of electric-pink flamingos standing tall over a sea of grey chicks. In a photo by Jose Garcia, a green snake wraps itself around the spear-like beak of a great heron, trying desperately to break free. “The fight lasted for nearly 20 minutes,” a caption on the photo reads, “with the heron having to release its prey.”
In addition to its arresting selection of photos, the BTO’s new book features a foreword by Chris Packham, president of the organization and the competition’s head judge. Part of the proceeds from the book will be used to support the BTO’s conservation work.