Photographers compete in Bird Photographer of the Year competition

Fancy a game of hide and beak? European shag feeding from its mother’s mouth features among finalists of this year’s Bird Photographer of the Year competition

From a sea eagle hitting a fox with its wings after it entered the bird of prey’s territory to a young European shag sticking its head into its mother’s mouth to feed, this incredible array of images showcases the work of some of the world’s finest photographers. 

The stunning pictures were taken by the finalists of the prestigious Bird Photographer of the Year 2021 photo competition. 

This year’s competition features a pair of Atlantic puffins battling during breeding season on the Hornøya bird cliff in Norway, and a pair of red billed oxpeckers hitching a ride on a hippo in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

The diverse images also include a wasp landing on a vibrantly coloured hummingbird in Los Quetzales Lodge, Costa Rica, and a Hamerkop trying to catch a leaping toad mid-air in the Zimanga Private Reserve, South Africa.    

‘This year we saw an incredible 22,000 entries into the competition, with images coming in from all over the world,’ said Will Nicholls, Director of Bird Photographer of the Year.

‘The standard of photography was incredibly high, and the diversity in different species was great to see. Now the judges are going to have a tough time deciding the winner of the competition.’ 

A young European shag was pictured sticking its entire head into its mother’s mouth to reach regurgitated food in The Farne Islands, UK, by photographer Brian Matthews

A white-tailed sea eagle was pictured hitting a fox with its wings after it entered the bird of prey’s territory in Rausuu, Japan, by photographer Fahad Alenezi



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A Hamerkop was pictured catching a leaping toad mid-air in the Zimanga Private Reserve, South Africa, by Daniel Zhang. The bird then threw its prey into the air multiple times so it would hit the ground and be killed

A pair of red billed oxpeckers catch a ride on a sleeping hippo in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Photographer Daniela Anger said the hippos and oxpecker have a mutual symbiotic relationship whereby the birds feed on the hippos while the animal is free from parasites

A pair of Atlantic puffin were pictured battling during breeding season in the snow on the Hornøya bird cliff in Norway


A hummingbird appears shocked when a wasp landed on it in Los Quetzales Lodge, Costa Rica (left) while a long-tailed tit flies in to drink from an icicle hanging from a tree on the banks of Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan (right)

A young oystercatcher captures a small crab with its mother on Lido Beach, New York. Photographer James Wilcox said the youngster is old enough to forage but still relies on its parents for food because its beak hasn’t developed the strength yet to open the shells of mollusks and crustaceans

A black-crowned night heron is pictured on a fishing perch on the harbour-front in Wanchai, Hong Kong. Photographer Daphne Wong said the bird is used to the presence of humans and kept its red eyes stayed fixated on the streetlight-lit water, looking for its next meal

A swallow was pictured flying through a broken window in Bourne, Linconshire, UK, by David White

A Great Gray Owl dives head first through heavy snowfall to the field below in search of its next meal in Minnesota, US

A duckling chases a small fly on a pond in Stromovka city park, Prague, Czech Republic

Two Black-tailed Godwits fight each other in a territorial battle over an area of the Manglajodi wetlands in India to gain the sole right over the area. Photographer said the pair were fighting to maintain their dominance over a feeding ground and trying to fend off the other who forages on the same food in the same area

Black and White Warbler sings in the morning, with its breath showing the subtle colours of the rainbow in New Jersey, US

A gentoo penguin enjoys surfing the waves in the sun on Carcass Island, Falkland Islands, UK


A pair of emperor penguins were pictured looking after their chick in Antarctica (left) while a cygnet, just a few days old, relaxes on the back of its sleeping mother in Derbyshire, UK

A great cormorant was pictured capturing a fish in its beak in Kiskunsag, Hungary, by Irma Szabo

A Southern Giant Petrel stretches his wings to protect his food from other petrels in South Georgia. The birds often scavenge  on dead seals or penguins

A pair of grey herons congregate around the fish stalls in Amsterdam, Netherlands, as the city markets are closing in the hope of picking up scraps of food

A nuthatch was pictured  landing in a garden in Solihull, UK. Photographer Mark Williams said he used a flash and the timing of capture is critical; the initial exposure captures the movement of the bird whilst the flash fires at the end of the exposure freezing the bird in flight

A pair of swans – an adult male and a young female – engaged in a pre-mating ritual in Nottinghamshire, UK, whereby they raised their necks and turning their heads towards each other 

A trio of hooded Cranes fly over a vast landscape in Izumi, Kagoshima, Japan

A jackdaw was pictured sat on top of a deer in Bushy Park, London, with the sun’s rays creating a stark contrast, by Amanda Cook

A Squacco Heron was pictured flying over Lake of Chiusi, Italy, as the sun hit its feathers by Aguti Antonio

A group of Red-crowned Crane engage in dual honking ritual before performing a dance in Hokkaido, Japan. Photographer Li Ying Lou said when the birds call, the heat they emit vaporizes in the cold air

A great cormorant was pictured catching a fish at a lake in central Israel by Tzahi Finkelstein

A European shag is pictured diving under the water to catch fish off the coast of Krk island, Croatia

A Southern Rockhopper penguin appeared to bow as the sun began to set in the Falkland Islands 

A pair of Tufted Ducks are pictured in  the town of Paradise, in Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada by Brad James. The male is in the foreground while the female is out of focus in the background

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