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See the stunning images in Bird Photographer of the Year

June 22, 2022

The organisers of Bird Photographer of the Year 2022 have revealed some of the best submissions to the competition from over 20,000 entries from 115 countries.

The 20,000-plus images entered into the Bird Photographer of the Year 2022 competition are all competing for the £5,000 cash prize and the overall prestigious title.

Photographers from 115 different countries submitted images to this year’s competition, which is one of the world’s leading bird photography competitions.

The organisers commented, ‘We celebrate the world’s best bird photography, whilst supporting conservation efforts through imagery and financial support.’

Will Nicholls, wildlife cameraman and director at Bird Photographer of the Year, commented, ‘Birds are an incredibly diverse group of animals, and we’ve seen stunning images of everything from mallard ducks to harpy eagles this year. We celebrate birds and conservation through images, and it is always a pleasure for everyone on the judging panel to see the work of such talented photographers.’

The selection below is a sneak preview of what is still to come, with all the winners to be announced on 8 September 2022.

See below for some of the shortlisted images and the stories behind them…


Best Portrait category

Single File by Ben Cranke (South Africa)

King penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicas) in Gold Harbour, South Georgia. © Ben Cranke/Bird Photographer of the Year

King penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicas) in Gold Harbour, South Georgia. © Ben Cranke/Bird Photographer of the Year

Ben Cranke explained, ‘On land, king penguins tend to be creatures of habit, and when moving from the sea to their nests they usually follow a well-trodden path. I took advantage of this behaviour to capture this image, hiding a camera on the edge of one of these paths and camouflaging it with snow. I used a wireless trigger to take this shot of the birds as they paraded past in orderly single file.’

Taken on a Nikon D810 with a Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom lens @ 23mm, 1/500sec at f/11, ISO 200


Best Portrait category

A Cartoon Bird Raising Its Hands by Weng Keong Liew (Malaysia)

Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus), Selangor, Malaysia. © Weng Keong Liew/Bird Photographer of the Year

Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus), Selangor, Malaysia. © Weng Keong Liew/Bird Photographer of the Year

Weng Keong Liew revealed, ‘It was the start of the breeding season, and this black-and-yellow broadbill was making a lot of commotion in an attempt to attract a mate. The courtship behaviour included a lot of noisy vocalisation and attention-seeking wing-spreading. To my eyes the plumage colours and patterns are like those an artist would use to illustrate a cartoon – stylised and somehow not quite like a real bird.’

Taken on a Fujifilm X-T4 with a Canon 500mm f/4 II lens, 1/250sec at f/4.5, ISO 400


Best Portrait categ­ory

Wart Head by Leander Khil (Austria)

Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata), Chan Chich Lodge Belize. © Leander Khil/Bird Photographer of the Year

Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata), Chan Chich Lodge, Belize. © Leander Khil/Bird Photographer of the Year

Leaner Khil revealed, ‘The colours and structures on the head of a male ocellated turkey surpass even those of its closest relative, the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) of North America. I always wonder whether the orange warts that cover the head and neck could serve any other purpose than sexual selection – they seem so extravagant. To show the birds in a different way than is seen usually, I chose this head-on view when this individual made eye contact with me in a private reserve in Belize.’

Taken on a Nikon D810 with a Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 zoom lens @ 500mm, 1/250sec at f/6.3, ISO 500


Best Portrait categ­ory

Gentoo Dancing at Sunset by Audrey Wooller (UK)

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua), Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands. © Audrey Wooller/Bird Photographer of the Year

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua), Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands. © Audrey Wooller/Bird Photographer of the Year

Audrey Wooller explained, ‘In the light of the setting sun, this penguin almost looked as if it were dancing. I positioned myself lying on the ground, waiting, and hoping, for a suitable penguin to pass during the few minutes when the setting sun created ideal light for a silhouette. This penguin obliged, with beak, feet and flippers nicely placed as it went past. I intentionally underexposed the image slightly to enhance the colours of the sunset against the silhouetted penguin.’

Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 II zoom lens at 371mm, 1/1600sec at f/5.6, ISO 100


Conservation Award category

Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program by Walter Potrebka (Canada)

Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), Manitoba, Canada. © Walter Potrebka/Bird Photographer of the Year

Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), Manitoba, Canada. © Walter Potrebka/Bird Photographer of the Year

Walter Potrebka explained, ‘I spent 2021 documenting the work of the Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program. As the project’s name suggests, it is working to re-establish the burrowing owl population in Manitoba, Canada. The approach involves the reintroduction of owl pairs and young, wild owl surveys, habitat improvement and community engagement.

Owls are reintroduced every breeding season, with cooperation from private landowners. Despite these efforts, in the last 10 years fewer than ten nesting pairs of wild burrowing owls have been recorded in Manitoba. To the team’s delight, and thanks to a local farmer, in 2021 a wild nest was reported with six healthy owlets, which was the first nest observed since 2011!’

Taken on a Sony A1 with a Sony 70-200mm f/4 G zoom lens @ 70mm, 1/80sec at f/6.3, ISO 320


Bird Behaviour category

Fight by Erlend Haarberg (Norway)

Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Finnmark, Norway. © Erlend Haarberg/Bird Photographer of the Year

Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Finnmark, Norway. © Erlend Haarberg/Bird Photographer of the Year

Erlend Haarberg revealed, ‘In 2020, spring was late arriving in Finnmark and there was still a lot of lingering snow when the first migratory birds arrived. As a result, there were only a few spots with open water on this particular river, and many waders gathered there in search of food while they waited for the snow to melt on their nesting grounds.

I spent several days in my hide and was able to witness some interesting behaviour, including brutal battles between rival males, perhaps fuelled by frustration at being snowbound. The most impressive took place between these two spotted redshanks.’

Taken on a Nikon D850 with a Nikon 180-400mm f/4 lens and 1.4× teleconverter @ 550mm, 1/2500sec at f/6.3, ISO 1600


Bird Behaviour category

Full Contact by Gabor Baross (Hungary)

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Hortobagy National Park, Hungary. © Gabor Baross/Bird Photographer of the Year

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Hortobagy National Park, Hungary. © Gabor Baross/Bird Photographer of the Year

Gabor Baross explained, ‘This image was taken on my second photographic session at this small pond. On my first visit there had been plenty of birds and lots of possibilities to take action photos. However, now the silence was my partner. All I had seen was a lone grey heron (Ardea cinerea) that attacked every bird that approached the pond.

However, in the afternoon the situation had improved and a group of Eurasian spoonbills landed not far away from me. It was immediately noticeable that there was an aggressor among them, a bird that had very strong territorial instincts. I focused my attention and camera on this bird. In the vast majority of cases, the other spoonbills chose to avoid confrontation.

However, in one instance there was a bird that turned to face the aggressor and a minute of unbridled fighting began. The level of aggression the birds displayed was far beyond my imagination. I felt like they were fighting for their lives, as they pressed each other’s heads under the water or just grabbed each other’s legs and did not let their rival fly away. During the combat they were getting closer and closer to me, so by the time this picture was taken they completely filled the frame.’

Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens, 1/6400sec at f/4, ISO 1000


Bird Behaviour category

Life Hanging in the Balance by Glenn Nelson (USA)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Skagit Valley, Washington State, USA. © Glenn Nelson/Bird Photographer of the Year

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Skagit Valley, Washington State, USA. © Glenn Nelson/Bird Photographer of the Year

Glenn Nelson revealed, ‘I’d spent a good portion of the year photographing great blue herons, which is the official bird of my hometown, Seattle. I had just taken possession of a brand-new lens and wanted to try something different, so I pulled off the road to observe a heron in a field. Until that point, I had been photographing these birds exclusively in the vicinity of water.

I was shocked when the bird pulled up a vole and I literally had to force myself to keep photographing. Some will find this image too gruesome to look at, and the heron’s choice of prey will come as a surprise to many. It really should not: we humans devour other mammals, as well as birds, after all.’

Taken on a Nikon Z 6 with a Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF lens, 1/3200sec at f/5.6, ISO 2800


Bird Behaviour category

Head Over Heels in Love by Marti Phillips (USA)

Caracara (Caracara cheriway), Laguna Seca Ranch, Edinburg, Texas, USA. © Marti Phillips/Bird Photographer of the Year

Caracara (Caracara cheriway), Laguna Seca Ranch, Edinburg, Texas, USA. © Marti Phillips/Bird Photographer of the Year

Marti Phillips explained, ‘I travelled to the Rio Grande area in Texas to attend my first bird photography workshop. This image was taken from a hide where birds are fed regularly, and among the species attracted were crested caracaras. Most of the time they just sat around, so imagine my delight at being able to photograph these two individuals as they performed their mating behaviour.’

Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5–5.6 II zoom lens @ 400mm, 1/500sec at f/5.6, ISO 2000


Bird Behaviour category

Hummingbird Hideaway by Liron Gertsman (Canada)

Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anaa), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. © Liron Gertsman/Bird Photographer of the Year

Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anaa), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. © Liron Gertsman/Bird Photographer of the Year

Liron Gertsman revealed, ‘During the Covid-19 pandemic, travel restrictions meant that my photographic pursuits were limited to my immediate neighbourhood for quite some time. I decided I would take the opportunity to get to know my local area in Vancouver as well as possible.

Each morning, I ventured out to a local park, searching for birds and wildlife. Over the course of the spring, I managed to locate seven Anna’s hummingbird nests in the area. Not wanting to disturb the birds in this important and sensitive stage of their life cycle, I would stay an appropriate distance from the nests and limit my visits to a maximum of 15 minutes.

I had been checking in on this particularly beautiful nest for a couple of weeks, as a hummingbird worked hard to build it and incubate her eggs. I was delighted when I stopped by one afternoon and saw two tiny beaks poking out of the tiny nest! When their mother flew in to feed them, I captured this intimate moment.’

Taken on a Canon R5 with a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5–5.6 II lens and 1.4x teleconverter @ 560mm, 1/160sec at f/8, ISO 800


Bird Behaviour category

Upland Buzzard Versus Corsac Fox by Baozhu Wang (China)

Upland Buzzard (Buteo hemilasius), Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China. © Baozhu Wang/Bird Photographer of the Year

Upland Buzzard (Buteo hemilasius), Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China. © Baozhu Wang/Bird Photographer of the Year

Baozhu Wang explained, ‘This photograph was taken on the Mandu grasslands of Dongwu Banner in Inner Mongolia. Both upland buzzard and corsac fox (Vulpes corsac) are top predators in this grassy environment and share a diet that comprises mainly small rodents.

Consequently, in terms of feeding they are rivals and are sometimes driven to fight each other over food. This kind of confrontation is usually for show and a battle of will that never ends up with life-and-death conflict. In this instance, the upland buzzard decided to relinquish its food and fly away.’

Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon 600mm f/4 lens, 1/1600sec at f/4, ISO 160


Bird Photographer of the Year 2022

The winners of the Bird Photographer of the Year will be announced on 8 September 2022.

There are gold, silver and bronze awards in each of the eight categories.

The overall Grand Prize, and title of Bird Photographer of the Year, will be chosen from the eight category gold awards winners and will win a £5,000 cash prize.

An exhibition of 70-80 of the winning images will go on an international tour between September 2022 and August 2023.

Dates and venues for the tour are yet to be confirmed.

To find out more go to the Bird Photographer of the Year website.


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