An image of a peregrine falcon defending its nest took the grand prize in the world’s largest bird photography competition. The winners were chosen from more than 20 000 images, and the overall winner won a cash prize.
ANGRY BIRD. Bird Behaviour Gold Award Winner and Bird Photographer of the Year 2023. Taken during the breeding season, a female peregrine falcon fiercely protects her young, attacking anything that comes near the nest. ‘For four years, I attempted to capture these rare moments of her attacking large brown pelicans with incredible speed and agility. The high-speed chase made it challenging to capture a close-up shot with a long lens. The falcon’s precision was amazing as it struck at the pelican’s head,’ says the photographer. The image was shot in southern California in the US. Picture: Jack Zhi/Bird Photographer of the Year Bronze Award Winner in the Comedy Bird Photo category. Captured at Santa Clara Ranch, Texas. A group of Northern Crested Caracaras was gathered around some pieces of chicken that had been placed out for them. This individual was more interested in displaying to all the others while they ate, explains the photographer. Picture: Ann Gillis/Bird Photographer of the Year WINGED WONDER. Gold Award Winner in the Birds in Flight category. Captured in Bogota, Colombia, the Sword-billed Hummingbird has the world’s longest bill relative to its size. Its unique bill makes it a vital pollinator as bees and butterflies can’t reach the nectar and so cannot pollinate these plants. Picture: Rafael Armada/Bird Photographer of the Year SUN BIRD. Birds in the Environment Gold Award Winner. Taken in Poland, floods there meant that a sunflower field could not be harvested and thousands of birds, including finches and bramblings, flocked to it in winter. When foraging, their colours blend with the surroundings, making it hard for predators to spot. Picture: Mateusz Piesiak/Bird Photographer of the Year GOING FISHING. Gold Award Winner in the Comedy Bird Photo category. The Purple Heron is a migratory bird that nests in the lake basins of the Italian Peninsula and preys on fish, mice, snakes and toads. In this shot, the heron caught a large Crucian Carp and voraciously swallowed it after several attempts to turn the fish onto its side. Picture: Antonio Aguti/Bird Photographer of the Year BABY LOVE. Silver Award Winner in the Best Portrait category. ‘Before capturing this image, I spent two days observing these penguins, lying flat on the ice to avoid scaring them. Waiting for the chick to appear, I finally got this touching shot of parental love. I trekked eight hours a day on soft snow to reach this colony and even made friends with some penguins,’ says Thomas Vijayan, on this picture captured in Antarctica. Picture: Thomas Vijayan/Bird Photographer of the Year FLYING HIGH. Silver Award in the Birds in Flight category. Photographed at Lake Bogoria, Kenya, this aerial shot shows a flock of Lesser Flamingos flying over a vast and concentrated bloom of blue-green algae, their staple food source. The photo was taken from the open doors of a light aircraft. Picture: Paul Mckenzie/Bird Photographer of the Year STOP PECKING ON ME. Silver Award Winner in the Comedy Bird Photo category. This image was taken at Saunders Island, Falkland Islands. The photographer said he was struck by how the behaviour of King Penguins sometimes resembled that of humans. This juvenile constantly begged until the annoyed adult walked away. But the fact that the juvenile was bigger than the adult suggested good parenting. Picture: Levi Fitze/Bird Photographer of the Year EYE TO EYE. Silver Award Winner in the Conservation (single image) category. Captured at Bonorong Wildlife Hospital in Tasmania, Australia. Southern Boobooks, the smallest Australian owl species, are often brought to veterinary hospitals after car accidents. Their large, outward-projecting eyes adapted for low-light hunting make them vulnerable to injury. Here, Dr Luke Gregory examines an injured owl. Picture: Michael Eastwell/Bird Photographer of the Year MORE IN PICTURES: Behind the scenes with Zip Zap Circus