Prize-Winning Images Capture Birds in All Their Feathered Glory

The Best Bird Photographer of the Year Awards displays the dynamic lives of the amazing avian

This silver award winner for birds in flight captures a red kite take to the skies after scooping up a dead worm. Jamie Hall via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
This black-and-white image of the great grey owl plays with waning light in the snowy winter of northeast Finland. This image won best portfolio in the creative imagery category. Markus Varesvuo via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
A Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) throws its finned find in the air before chowing down on its meal. This image won the people's choice category. Vince Burton via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
This detail of a cormorant wing is the winner of the Attention to Detail category. Tom Hines via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
An Australian pelican lands on the calm, shallow waters of a small mangrove swamp at Urunga Head in Australia. Bret Charman via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
A young photographer captured this whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) as it called for the rising sun. Ondrej Pelanek via Young Bird Photographer of the Year
Vibrant pink flamingos feed their fluffy grey chicks in Rio Lagartos, Mexico. This image was the winner for the Best Portrait category. Alejandro Prieto Rojas via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
An Andean condor takes flight over the mountain peaks in Torres Del Paine National Park. This image won gold in the category Birds in the Environment. Ben Hall via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
A great white heron (Ardea herodias occidentalis) fights a green snake in the Florida Everglades. After 20 minutes of battling, the bird eventually had to release its prey. Jose Garcia/Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
A gray heron peers under its wing in the silver winning image for the category Attention to Detail. Ahmad Alessa via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017
An Eider duck (Somateria molissima) is out for a paddle in Trondelag, Norway. Pål Hermansen via Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2017

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.

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