Head-terning images: The Bird Photographer of the Year 2023 winners
The Bird Photographer of the Year has announced its 2023 competition winners, a stunning celebration of our fine feathered friends. From finches and falcons to penguins and owls, the competition produced some amazing images of birds doing what they do best – including flying, feeding, and fighting – and looking magnificent doing it.
More than 20,000 images were submitted by photographers from around the world, each vying for the £5,000 (US$6,250) grand prize. In the adult competition, photographers competed in eight categories: Best Portrait, Birds in the Environment, Bird Behavior, Birds in Flight, Black and White, Urban Birds, Conservation (Single Image) and Comedy Bird Photo. There was also a Conservation Award, Portfolio Award, and Video Award.
The grand prize was taken out by Jack Zhi from the US, who captured the dramatic moment a peregrine falcon fiercely protected her young from a pelican who got too close. The image is all the more impressive given the speed at which peregrine falcons have been known to dive swoop: around 200 mph (320 km/h).
“For four years, I attempted to capture the rare sight of the female falcon attacking large brown pelicans with incredible speed and agility,” said Zhi. “I love the eyes of the pelican in this image – surprised and scared. The action was fast and over in the blink of an eye. But I’ll remember that moment forever.
The Young Bird Photographer of the Year award went to 17-year-old German photographer Anton Trexler for his atmospheric image of a blackbird silhouetted against a red moon.
Other standouts include the gold award winner in the Birds in the Environment category, Mateusz Piesiak from Poland, for Sunflower Paradise, showing a brambling taking advantage of dried, unharvested sunflowers against a wintery sky.
Fascinating Droplet by Australia’s Jason Moore won the gold award in the Black and White category for his image of a young musk duck mesmerized by a drop of water falling from its mother’s mouth. The young duck’s curiosity is palpable.
A controversial photograph was the gold winner of the Conservation (Single Image) category. In Don’t Make War, Ewan Heath-Flynn, UK, captures a Maltese hunter proudly holding a dead European turtle dove in one hand and a gun in the other. BirdLife Malta, a local conservation NGO, condemns the traditional practice of killing these birds.
Comedy gold went to No Way Out, in which a purple heron struggles to eat its latest meal, a crucian carp that appears to be too big for its mouth. The photographer is Antonio Aguti from Italy.
The competition organizers were awed by the talent displayed in this year's competition. But the Bird Photographer of the Year competition is about more than beautiful bird pictures. It’s also about raising awareness around conservation, this year donating £5,000 (US$6,250) to partner charity Birds on the Brink, which provides funding to bird conservation projects worldwide.
“Each image is not merely a testament to the immense talent of our photographers, but a poignant reminder of the breathtaking beauty of birds,” said Will Nicholls, director of Bird Photographer of the Year. “The astounding caliber of these photographs underscores a vital message: let us champion the cause of conservation, so that future generations can marvel at the real-life inspirations behind these extraordinary images.”
All awarded images will appear in a hardback coffee-table book published by William Collins and available to buy on the Bird Photographer of the Year website. You can check out some of our favorites in our gallery.
Source: Bird Photographer of the Year