The top-flight winners of the 2020 Bird Photographer of the Year
Launched in 2014 the Bird Photographer of the Year has quickly grown to be one of the world’s strongest bird photography contests. This year’s magnificent selection of winning images offers a deeply diverse assortment of shots, from an evocatively impressionistic grand-prize-winning photograph to a number of incredible perspectives of birds in human environments.
Collecting around 15,000 entries, this year’s contest centered on eight broad categories. Some categories, such as Best Portrait or Birds in Flight, delivered spectacular, albeit unsurprising winners, but other more unconventional themes revealed excitingly creative entries.
Birds in the Environment, and Garden & Urban Birds, showed an incredible versatility to bird photography, revealing the fascinating ways these animals use human structures to make their homes. Attention to Detail, on the other hand, offered up a category that zoomed in on the stunning textures and patterns found in bird feathers.
“The vast majority of the 15,000 images entered annually are of an amazing standard, sufficient eye-candy to feed even the most visually gluttonous,” says the judging panel, in a collective statement outlining their decisions. “But create a photograph that makes us sick with envy or cry out with uncontained excitement, then you are in with a chance. When that collective shout from the judges is ‘I wish I had taken that myself’, then you are onto a winner.”
The overall grand prize this year went to a vivid image taken by Kuwaiti photographer Majed AlZa’abi. Titled "End of the Day," the image was taken at Vardø in Norway and features a pair of European Shags.
“I took this shot in April 2019 while on a visit to the famous Norwegian seabird island of Vardø, a location packed full of birds that provide endless opportunities for photography,” explains Majed. “I like the out-of-focus shag framing the in-focus individual, plus the bokeh of the sea as sunset approached. By experimenting, I aimed to create artistic and impressionistic shots of shags, and I hope I achieved my goal with this image.”
Other highlights include a gorgeous sunset shot showing White Storks in nests atop electrical towers; a mind-bending shot of a camouflaged owl indistinguishable from tree bark; and a brilliant shot from a young photographer, taken with a smartphone, showing a young swan mirrored in still water.
Take a look through our gallery at more fantastic winners from the 2020 Bird Photographer of the Year competition.