After more than 22,000 images were submitted, the winners of the Bird Photographer of the Year 2021 contest were announced this week. We wrote about the grand-prize winner, a photo of a Greater Roadrunner stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and the youth winner here.
Below is a slideshow of the gold and silver winning images from the eight primary categories in the contest. Enjoy these incredible photographs!
Maofeng Shen, China
June marks the start of the breeding season for Demoiselle Cranes on the vast grasslands of Keshiketeng in Inner Mongolia. It is a blessing to witness the arrival of these beautiful birds, and a privilege to have documented their nesting behavior. In order to capture wonderful, intimate moments of breeding behavior without causing disturbance, I did a lot of homework. I drove more than 800km to the vast prairie of Keshiketeng two days before I planned to photograph and did my groundwork. I got up at 3am on 29 June 2018 and rushed to the location of the breeding cranes. In order not to disturb their peaceful life, I had previously set up my equipment in the long grass and lay down, disguised on the ground. In the morning light, the figures of the Demoiselle Crane family of four gradually appeared out of the gloom. Just as they were leisurely foraging for food, suddenly the distant sound of shepherds herding sheep could be heard. It seemed as if the sound was enough to inspire the pair of adults to call, as they stood back to back. This evocative sound cut through the silent sky for a brief moment, then everything quietened down again. I enjoyed the company of the crane family for the next four hours.
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon 600mm f/4 lens, 1/640 second, f/6.3, ISO 400.