After sharing with us this year’s finalists back in April, Bird Photographer of the Year has selected the winners of the 2021 contest. This year, the overall award has gone into hands of Alejandro Prieto for his image of a roadrunner stopped in its track by the USA-Mexico border wall. But as always, there are plenty more stunning photos in the selection, and we bring you some of them below.
For the 2021 contest, photographers from all over the world submitted more than 22,000 images. I believe that the jury had a difficult choice to make, but they eventually awarded Prieto with the £5,000 grand prize.
“The border wall crosses deserts, mountains, and even mangroves,” the Mexican photographer explains. “It is not just desert, and is in fact very biodiverse with more than 1,500 animal and plants species threatened by the wall. I have watched many different animals reach the wall before turning around and heading back.”
The border wall poses a real threat to biodiversity in the area through habitat fragmentation. It physically blocks crucial migration routes for animals such as the longhorn sheep, pronghorn, black bear, bison, and even jaguar.
Will Nicholls, Director of Bird Photographer of the Year, explained why this image immediately caught the attention of the judges:
“It is not your typical bird photo, and the story behind the image is so strong. The roadrunner appears so vulnerable facing up to the huge border wall that dominates the frame.”
Other than the overall winner, the contest also recognizes the Young Bird Photographer of the Year 2021. This year, it’s to 17-year-old Swiss photographer Levi Fitze for his image of black grouse lekking at sunrise.
Just like the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards we featured earlier today, the Bird Photographer of the Year also has conservation at its heart. This year, the competition donated more than £8,000 of essential funding to partner charity Birds on the Brink which supports grass-roots bird conservation projects around the world.
The contest has eight categories in the adult competition, plus the Conservation Award and the Portfolio Award. So, there are plenty more winning photos to admire. We bring you the category winners below, and you can also find them in a hard-back coffee table book. Make sure to visit the contest’s website for more photos, and as of 30 September, you’ll be able to submit your bird photos for the 2022 contest.