Birds are one of the most diverse groups of animals on the planet. Every year, this diversity is celebrated by the passionate people at the Bird Photographer of the Year, in their annual photography awards.


Bird Photographer of the Year is a global photographic competition, open to amateurs and professionals of all ages and abilities. This year, over 20,000 images were submitted, showcasing an incredible variety of birds from around the world. In our gallery we have highlighted our favourites from the winners and runners-up, including many impressive images from younger photographers.

For more information about the competition, and to explore more images, fly over to the official Bird Photographer of the Year website.

Overall winner - Rock ptarmigan flight

Bird flying through mountain range
A rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) flies over the unforgiving landscape of Tysfjorden, a fjord in Nordland county, Norway. The ptarmigan thrive in this area, battered by harsh winds, snow and freezing temperatures throughout the long winter months. Photo by Erlend Haarberg/BPOTY

Gold award for attention to detail - Sleeping beauty

King penguin chick sleeping
While most images of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) seem to be of striking adult birds, there is a undeniable cuteness to the chicks with their brown ‘teddy bear’ plumage. This chick was asleep at Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands, United Kingdom, and the photographer was able to capture the details around the beak, eye and ear; the latter seldom seen. Photo by Andy Pollard/BPOTY

Bronze award for birds in flight - Schalow's turac

Schalow’s Turaco in flight
A Schalow’s turaco (Tauraco schalowi) captured in flight in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. These stunningly-dressed birds spend most of their time high in the dark jungle canopy, and are extremely fast flyers. Because of this, they are rarely photographed in flight (if ever), making this image incredibly rare. Photo by Aaron Baggenstos/BPOTY

Silver award for birds in the environment - Kaleidoscope

Aerial image of Flamingoes on lake
This image shows a small flock of lesser flamingoes (Phoeniconaias minor) and greater flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus), as they fly over Lake Logipi in northern Kenya. Recent rains had covered the previously empty lake with a shallow depth of water. This had awakened dormant microscopic algae in the lake bed, which caused the red coloration in the image and mixed with yellow and brown sediment washed into the lake from the Suguta River. Photo by Paul McKenzie/BPOTY

Gold award for best portrait - Strut performer

Sage grouse strutting
A male sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) performs a strutting display on the prairies of the Great Basin, USA. On these traditional display grounds, males of this Red List 'Near Threatened' species perform in the hope of winning the right to mate. This behaviour is for the benefit of the females, which judge the talent show and select the best genes to pass on to the next generation. Photo by Ly Dang/BPOTY

Bronze award for best portrait - The doting couple

Purple-crested Turaco couple
Purple-crested turacos (Gallirex porphyreolophus) like these are very shy and tend to avoid cameras, which makes this image unique. This couple were photographed at Lower Mpushini, near Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Photo by Richard Flack/BPOTY

Gold award for black and white - Between two worlds

Cormorant dives towards a school of fish
A double-crested cormorant (Nannopterum auritus) dives towards a school of fish, at Espíritu Santo, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The cormorant in this image was having trouble catching a fish. Every time it dived down into the water, the school would move in unison to escape the bird’s sharp beak, making it difficult to isolate a single target. Photo by Henley Spiers/BPOTY

Gold award for urban birds - Over the city

Flamingoes fly over skyline of Abu Dhabi
A group of greater flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus) fly over the morning skyline of a foggy Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo by Ammar Alsayed Ahmed/BPOTY

Young bird photographer of the year winner - Facing the storm

Dunlin bird in sandstorm
A dunlin (Calidris alpina) struggles to make headway through a sandstorm at Heligoland, Germany. Heligoland is a tiny North Sea island, known for its generally mild weather, although the weather in this image is anything but. Photo by Levi Fitze/BPOTY

Silver award for attention to detail - Crazy

Western Capercaillie hiding behind a tree
Western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) peers around a tree trunk in Stockholm, Sweden. The capercaillie is a member of the grouse family, and the largest of the grouse species. Photo by Isabella Chowra/BPOTY

Gold award for 9 to 13 years - Droplets

Hummingbird and water droplets
Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte Anna) bathes in a water fountain, at Fremont, California, USA. A fast shutter speed was able to capture the water droplets and the quick motion of the bird's wings. Photo by Parham Pourahmad/BPOTY

Bronze award for 9 to 13 years - Hop, skip and jump

Parakeet jumping from flower to flower
A plum-headed parakeet (Himalayapsitta cyanocephala) jumps from one branch to another. The pink hue of the feathers around its head identifies this individual as a male. Photographed at Hosanagara, Karnataka, India. Photo by Achintya Murthy/BPOTY

Gold award for bird behaviour - Duelling on the lek

Sage Grouse fighting
Sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) engaged in a fight, Colorado, USA. During the spring breeding season, male sage grouse gather on traditional lekking sites and often engage in short but violent fights. They have an elaborate display designed to attract and impress females, and show their superiority. Inevitably this leads to rivalry between males and challenges on the lek. Photo by Peter Ismert/BPOTY

Silver award for 14 to 17 years - Pied avocet chick

A pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) drinks from a soda lake called Nagyszéksós-tó, near the town of Mórahalom, Kinskunság National Park, Hungary. Photo by Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz/BPOTY

Gold award for birds in flight - Silo mural

Galahs in flight
A pair of galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) fly past a large grain silo that has been decorated with a mural, at Yelarbon, Queensland, Australia. Large areas of Australia are flat, dry and given over to wheat farming. Towns can consist of as little as a truck stop and a collection of grain silos. In some locations, these silos have become popular palettes for enormous murals, drawing tourists into otherwise desolate areas. Photo by Raoul Slater/BPOTY

More images from Science Focus:


Bronze award for birds in the environment - Free as a bird

European Shag flies over huge wave
This image shows a European shag (Gulosus aristotelis) as it flies over a huge wave of about 8m high off the west coast of Asturias, in northern Spain. Photo by Mario Suarez Porras/BPOTY

Silver award winner for best portrait - Puffin love

Puffin couple
The morning sun glows behind this pair of Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), who perch on the cliff edge at Elliston, Newfoundland, Canada. Photo by Brad James/BPOTY

Silver award for bird behaviour - Guillemot swimmers

Common Guillemots swimming underwater
Common guillemots (Uria aalge) swim underwater at Berwickshire Marine Reserve, Scotland, United Kingdom. Guillemots are excellent swimmers, and use their wings to dive deep down in order to hunt for prey. Photo by Henley Spiers/BPOTY

Bronze award for urban birds - The owlet and the dump

Baby owl at a rubbish dump
Barred owl (Strix varia) stands amongst litter and rubbish in a creek, in an urban park at Hillsboro, Oregon, USA. Photo by Kerry Wu/BPOTY

Silver award for birds in flight - Starling at night

Starling flying at night
A common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) flies towards a bird feeder that is full of sunflower seeds, Solihull, West Midlands, United Kingdom. Photo by Mark Williams/BPOTY

Bronze award for bird behaviour - Waxwing silhouette

Waxwing SILHOUETTE on tree branch
Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) perches on a berry bush, and flips a berry into its mouth. Photographed at Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Photo by Simon d’Entremont/BPOTY

Bronze award for 14 to 17 years - Sunset

Plover on sultans in sunset
A kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) stands in the sand at Khok Kham, Samut Sakhon, Thailand, as the sun sets behind it. Photo by Thamboon Uyyanonvara/BPOTY

Silver award for black and white - The guardian of Mordor

Great cormorant on a rocky cliff
You might not see it at first, but on a rocky outcrop near the centre of this image, a great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) spreads its wings. This impressive image was taken on the black lava beach of Skarðsvík, on the west coast of Iceland. Photo by Paweł Smolik/BPOTY

Silver award for urban birds - Gonzo

Owl sheltering from the rain
A little owl (Athene noctua) shelters from the rain, under the roof of a building in Harghita county, Transylvania, Romania. Photo by Laszlo Potozky/BPOTY

Silver award for 9 to 13 words - Shadows

Blackbird silhouette
A Eurasian blackbird (Turdus merula) stands on a tree branch in Grazalema, Spain. Photo by Andrés Luis Domínguez Blanco/BPOTY

Gold award for 8 years and under - Hoot are you?

Owl on a tree branch
A barred owl chick (Strix varia) looks straight at the photographer, in this image taken at Acadia National Park, Maine, United States of America. Photo by Arjun Jenigiri/BPOTY

Bronze award for attention to detail - Beads of diamonds

Great Northern Diver covered with water beads
A common loon, or great northern diver (Gavia immer) has been captured in stunning detail in this image. This individual has just surfaced from a dive, with water droplets beading off its feathers. Photographed in the Cariboo region, British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Sue Dougherty/BPOTY


James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs