Our friends at the UK-based Bird Photographer of the Year (BPOTY) competition are seeing firsthand the growing pressures on bird populations around the world. Therefore, if bird photography is to thrive and not become, metaphorically speaking, a dying art, we all need to do our part to reverse the decline of bird species and support conservation efforts.
BPOTY is helping fund its partner charity Birds on the Brink, and recognizes the power of world-class imagery to make people around the world care, and perhaps shame some into act. Here are some wonderful images from the US BPOTY contest, which depict species for which there is an underlying conservation story to tell.
The Black Skimmer has incomparable plumage and a truly extraordinary beak. Viewed from the side, the lower mandible is much longer than the upper, which makes no sense until you see a bird feeding. As its name suggests, it flies low over the water with its beak open, “grazing” or rather mowing the surface with the lower mandible. The moment the sensitive mandible touches a fish, the bill rises and closes, catching its prey. Like almost all coastal-nesting species in the United States, it is threatened by human disturbance and habitat loss. The Black Skimmer’s unique feeding strategy is perfectly captured by Nikunj Patel’s image titled ‘Head On’, taken in Ocean City, New Jersey. The photo won a Gold Award in the 2019 competition and appears in the BPOTY 4 book.
The 2021 Bird Photographer of the Year contest is open for entries until February 15, 2021. Read the rules and find out how to enter here.
Discover the winners of the 2020 Bird Photographer of the Year competition