As photography subjects go, birds are notoriously (and literally) flighty. So it’s not hard to admire the work on show at the Bird Photographer of the Year contest. The winners of the 2021 prize have been announced, spanning a range of technical categories, narrowed down from a flock of 22,000 entries.
The prize-winning work showcases some of the world’s most colourful species and also highlights their delicate, essential place in our world.
See the winners of each category are below, and explore more incredible entries at www.birdpoty.com. If you’re feeling inspired, the 2022 competition will open on 30 September 2021, with photographers of all levels invited to register. There’s a £5,000 to be won, so eyes on the skies.
Birds in the Environment & Bird Photographer of the Year
Beep-beep. This Road Runner stops in its tracks in front of a section of border wall between the US and Mexico in southern Arizona. The 3,000km-long border traverses a range of habitats and this image, the competition’s overall winner, illustrates how a wall along it can disrupt the behaviour of local nomadic species. © Alejandro Prieto / Bird Photographer of the Year.
Standing 1.5m tall and with a wingspan of 2.5m, Greater Adjutants are the most endangered species of stork on the planet. Today, there are fewer than 1,200 of these enigmatic scavengers left in existence, with the global stronghold of 950 residing in Assam, India. © Carla Rhodes / Bird Photographer of the Year.
Backlit by a golden sunset on the remote island of Fair Isle, this puffin was captured by photographer Kevin Morgans on his annual return to the far north of Scotland. @ Kevin Morgans / Bird Photographer of the Year
Attention to Detail
This image shows the reflection of a penguin in wet sand, with waves crashing. The photographer is fascinated by the way light is reflected by water and how liquid can create, distort and destroy the way we view things. © Rafael Armada / Bird Photographer of the Year.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a huge baleen whale mid-feed. In fact it’s a Brown Pelican making the most of scraps thrown into the sea by fishermen on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. © Felipe Foncueva / Bird Photographer of the Year.
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A literal bird bath in West Benghal, India. This Crimson Sunbird makes the most of the banana plant it’s lounging in. After drinking nectar from the flower, it lay back in the rainwater collected in the flower’s petal. © Mousam Ray / Bird Photographer of the Year
Birds in Flight
The Common Swift doesn’t stay still for very long. It feeds on insects mid-air and swoops low to scoop up water in its beak when it needs a drink. The species can spend up to 10 months in continuous flight and won’t settle on the ground if they can avoid it. © Tzahi Finkelstein / Bird Photographer of the Year.
Black and White
The huge scale of the Antarctic environment is as much the focus of this image as the Chinstrap Penguin spotted wandering among it. The species was captured atop a gigantic iceberg. © Renato Granieri / Bird Photographer of the Year.
The White-throated Dipper is spotted using whatever perch it can in this image taken in Greater Manchester. The semi-aquatic species was captured using a remote camera and lens placed in the river, while the photographer triggered it from the bank. © Terry Whittaker / Bird Photographer of the Year.
Young Bird Photographer of the Year (age 14-17)
Photographer Levi Fitze endured a night high in the freezing Alps and a 4am start to capture this image of a black grouse at sunrise. Males of the species gather in large groups in what is known as lekking behaviour, where they compete for mates with elaborate displays and courtship rituals. © Levi Fitze / Bird Photographer of the Year
Young Bird Photographer of the Year (age 9-13)
This striking wide-angle image was captured remotely from a hide. It shows the Eurasian Nuthatch climbing down the trunk of a tree to find water. © Andrés L. Domínguez Blanco / Bird Photographer of the Year
Young Bird Photographer of the Year (age 8 and under)
This Short-eared Owl fixes the viewer with a stare in the grasslands around Chennai in India. Its distribution is one of the most widespread of any bird in the world. The only continents where it’s not found are Antarctica and Australia. © Deeksha Sambath / Bird Photographer of the Year.