Facing the Storm Head-On: Winners of the Bird Photographer of the Year Contest

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Birds are one of the most diverse groups of animals on the planet. Each year, this diversity is celebrated by the enthusiasts of the Bird Photographer of the Year, during 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’ve highlighted our favorites from winners and runners-up, including plenty of awesome images from young photographers.

For more information on the contest and to explore more images, head to the official Bird Photographer of the Year website.

Overall Winner – Rock Ptarmigan Flight

A rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) flies over the unforgiving landscape of Tysfjorden, a fjord in Nordland county, Norway. Ptarmigan thrive in this region, battered by high winds, snow and freezing temperatures throughout the long winter months. Photo by Erlend Haarberg/BPOTY

Gold Medal for Attention to Detail – Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping King Penguin Chick

While most images of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) appear to be striking adult birds, there’s an undeniable cuteness to the chicks with their brown “teddy bear” plumage. This chick was sleeping at Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands, UK, and the photographer was able to capture the detail around the beak, eye and ear; the latter rarely seen. Photo by Andy Pollard/BPOTY

Bronze Medal 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 amazingly dressed birds spend most of their time high in the dark jungle canopy and are extremely fast flyers. For this reason, they are rarely photographed in flight (if ever), making this image incredibly rare. Photo by Aaron Baggenstos/BPOTY

Silver Medal for Environmental Birds – Kaleidoscope

Aerial image of flamingos on the lake

This image shows a small flock of lesser flamingos ( Phoeniconaias minor) and greater flamingos ( 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 woken up dormant microscopic algae in the lake bed, which caused the image to turn red and mixed with yellow and brown sediment washed into the lake from the Suguta River. Photo by Paul McKenzie/BPOTY

Gold medal for best portrait – Strut performer

Sage-grouse strutting

A male greater sage grouse ( Centrocercus urophasianus) performs a strutting display on the grasslands of the Great Basin, USA. At these traditional show grounds, males of this Red List “near threatened” species perform in hopes of earning the right to mate. This behavior is to the benefit of females who judge show talent and select the best genes to pass on to the next generation. Photo by Ly Dang/BPOTY

Bronze medal for best portrait – The doting couple

Couple of Purple-crested Turaco

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

Gold medal for black and white – Between two worlds

The cormorant dives towards a school of fish

A double-crested cormorant (Nannopterum auritus) dives towards a school of fish, in Espíritu Santo, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The cormorant in this image was struggling to catch a fish. Each time it dove into the water, the shoal moved in unison to evade the bird’s sharp beak, making it difficult to isolate a single target. Photo by Henley Spires/BPOTY

Golden trophy for urban birds – Over the city

Flamingos fly over Abu Dhabi

A group of flamingos ( Phoenicopterus roseus) flies over the morning skyline in a foggy Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo by Ammar Alsayed Ahmed/BPOTY

Winner of Baby Bird Photographer of the Year – Facing the Storm

Dunlin bird in a sandstorm

A Dunlin ( Calidris alpina ) struggles to make progress in a sandstorm in Heligoland, Germany. Helgoland is a small island in the North Sea known for its generally mild climate, although the weather in this image is anything but. Photo by Levi Fitze/BPOTY

Silver Medal for Attention to Detail – Crazy

Capercaillie hiding behind a tree

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

Gold medal for 9 to 13 year olds – Droplets

Hummingbird and water droplets

Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte Anna) bathes in a water fountain, in Fremont, California, USA. A fast shutter speed captured the water droplets and the rapid movement of the bird’s wings. Photo by Parham Pourahmad/BPOTY

Bronze medal for 9 to 13 year olds – Hop, skip and jump

Budgerigar jumping from flower to flower

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

Gold Medal for Bird Behavior – Duel on the Lek

Sage-Grouse fight

Greater sage grouse ( Centrocercus urophasianus) engaged in combat, Colorado, USA. During the spring breeding season, male sage-grouse congregate at traditional lekking sites and often engage in short but fierce fights. They have an elaborate display designed to attract and impress females and show their superiority. Inevitably, this leads to male rivalry and challenges on the lek. Photo by Peter Ismert/BPOTY

14-17 Year Old Silver Medal – Pied Avocet Chick

PIVOTAL CHICKEN

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

Gold Medal for Birds in Flight – Silo Mural

Galahs in flight

A pair of galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) flies over a large grain silo which has been decorated with a mural, in Yelarbon, Queensland, Australia. Large areas of Australia are flat, dry and devoted to wheat cultivation. Towns can consist of as little as a truck stop and a collection of grain silos. In some places, these silos have become popular palettes for huge murals, drawing tourists to otherwise desolate areas. Photo by Raoul Slater/BPOTY

More pictures of Scientific orientation:

Bronze Medal for Environmental Birds – Free as a Bird

European Shag rides over a huge wave

This image shows a European crested cormorant ( Gulosus aristotelis) as it skims over a huge wave 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 shines behind this pair of Atlantic Puffins ( Fratercula arctica), perching on the edge of the cliff in Elliston, Newfoundland, Canada. Photo by Brad James/BPOTY

Silver Medal for Bird Behavior – Guillemot Swimmers

Common guillemots swimming underwater

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

Bronze Medal for Urban Birds – The Owl and the Dump

Baby owl in a landfill

Barred owl ( Strix varia) stands among trash and trash in a creek, in an urban park in Hillsboro, Oregon, USA. Photo by Kerry Wu/BPOTY

Silver Medal for Birds in Flight – Night Starling

Starling flying at night

A common starling ( Sturnus vulgaris) flies towards a bird feeder which is full of sunflower seeds, Solihull, West Midlands, UK. Photo by Mark Williams/BPOTY

Bronze Medal for Bird Behavior – Waxwing silhouette

Waxwing SILHOUETTE ON TREE BRANCH

Waxwing ( Bombycilla garrulus) perches on a berry bush and flips a berry in its mouth. Photographed in Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Photo by Simon d’Entremont/BPOTY

Bronze medal for 14 to 17 year olds – Sunset

Plover on sultans at sunset

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

Silver Medal 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 center 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 Pawel Smolik/BPOTY

Silver Medal for Urban Birds – Gonzo

Owl sheltering from the rain

A Little Owl (Athene noctua) takes shelter from the rain, under the roof of a building in Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania. Photo by Laszlo Potozky/BPOTY

Silver medal for 9 to 13 words – Shadows

blackbird silhouette

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

Gold Medal for Ages 8 and Under – Hoot Are You?

Owl on a tree branch

A barred owl chick ( Strix varia) stares directly at the photographer, in this image taken at Acadia National Park, Maine, United States of America. Photo by Arjun Jenigiri/BPOTY

Bronze Medal for Attention to Detail – Diamond Beads

Great Northern Diver covered in water beads

A Common Loon, or Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer) has been captured in stunning detail in this image. This individual has just resurfaced after a dive, with water droplets beading on its feathers. Photographed in the Cariboo region, British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Sue Dougherty/BPOTY

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