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The Beauty of Birds

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Published Dec 10, 2018 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 33 Contributors

    33 photos selected by

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    An early monsoon storm brought the desert to life as I hiked. There were many birds, including th...

    #desert #birds #rain #outdoors #wildlife #bird #cactus #hike #monsoon #saguaro

    Growing up, my maternal grandmother loved birds. We would spend countless hours looking out her picture window to the bird feeder and she would teach me the different birds that would visit. Blue jays, sparrows, chickadees, goldfinches, bluebirds, mourning doves, red-winged blackbirds, robins and her favorite, cardinals. She even taught me which songs belonged to which bird when we would sit outside in the summers. She made sweet water for the hummingbirds and pointed out the herons soaring above our heads to the lake. She fostered the fascination with these creatures as they would swoop in and out of the bird house she kept in the front yard.

    We changed our plan to not go anywhere but only in St Arnaud, South Island, New Zealand. The weat...

    #bird #newzealand #afterstorm #starnaud

    Editor's Note

    This quiet, wide frame is completely mesmerizing. I get lost in the pinks and blues throughout the scenery and then, boom! a duck amongst the calm. Well done, I love it.

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Quietly captured the Queen's life in her Kingdom.

    #nature #birdwatching #bird #nikon #birdphotography

    Editor's Note

    It's refreshing to see a peacock and peahen in their natural habitat out in the wild. Their feathers are so beautiful but I love being able to see them in this frame, surrounded by foliage. I love ... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    While editing, I looked for images that were not only well-composed and properly exposed with great light or an awesome moment, but images that told the story of a bird. Highlighting a bird’s behavior or personality were what reminded me that they’re not just dinosaurs that didn’t die. I loved when I would come across a photo and it would make me smile. Through my curation, I wanted to focus on what makes birds beautiful beyond their feathers, though their feathers are natural works of art, too.

    I was able to document the young birds of Crested lark at the moment of their guidance to parents...

    #birds #nature #wildlife #bird #wild #animals

    Editor's Note

    Awesome perspective, Hamad! I agree with Grace's comment below, "I love how vibrant their open mouths are compared to everything else in the shot. It creates a sense of urgency, and amplifies their... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The first characteristic that many people think when they see birds is freedom. These symbolize i...

    #fly #bird #freedom #human #free #silhouette #shadow #hands #love #dream #figures #wish #inner #mind #being

    Editor's Note

    What an awesome submission to celebrate the beauty of birds, Héctor! I love the creative way you interpreted this assignment and created a narrative around your image with light, shadows and a thou... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    A cockcatoo tried to reach my friend's hand at Ragunan zoo. Once to get to know, they are very af...

    #bird #people #animals #zoo #portrait #blackandwhite #cage #cacatua #weloveourpets

    Editor's Note

    This image illustrated the connection birds feel with humans and how much we can grow attached to each other's company. Birds are really special and I think this cockatoo reaching for your friend t... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    These sweet ducks caught my eye riding my bike through a nature preserve at sunrise while perched...

    #birds #nature #ducks #silhouette #florida #sunrise #swamp #wetland #lensbaby

    Editor's Note

    There is an awesome sense of place in this frame! I love how you used silhouetting against the sky to show us the scale of the birds in the trees. It feels like a dream. Well done!

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Birds’ feathers, behaviors, personalities and intelligence make them some of the most intriguing creatures on the planet and they’re everywhere. Through curation, I went on a world tour through bird species. I saw birds that I’ve never seen before or that I encounter on my walk to work every day. Whether it is through your photos or the old encyclopedias my grandmother had on her bowing, built-in bookshelves, I want to keep learning more.

    Laguna colorada, Bolivia. Folklore suggests the water is actually the blood of the gods, though ...

    #mountains #lake #wildlife #flamingo #life #bolivia #laguna #outdoor #lagunacolorada

    Editor's Note

    The light shining through the flamingos' feathers and how the contrasting pinks and blues are beautiful in this frame. I love that you mention the resiliency of flamingos because that's my favorite... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Muriwai's gannet colony is one of a kind scenery in Auckland, about 1,200 pairs of gannets nest h...

    #beach #sunset #bird #rocks #muriwai #nest #auckland

    Editor's Note

    The pattern that the gannets create on their nests in the foreground is awesome! I love that you ... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Male Anna's Hummingbird displaying its bright red gorget to discourage other hummingbirds from us...

    #bird #male #hummingbird #perched #displaying #gorget

    The fog coming off the lake was lit up by the golden glow of the rising sun creating a really inc...

    #feather #lake #bird #common #sunrise #alaska #loon #magical #flap #birdphotoghraphy

    A cormorant returning to its colony from a hunting flight out at sea at the Francois Peron Nation...

    #birds #nature #wildlife #seaside #seabirds #birdphotography #commorants #marinebirds

    Editor's Note

    This composition is fascinating, Jensen! I love how you filled the frame with the birds on the left side and left the right side for the lone bird to stand out as it returns from its hunting flight... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Some may argue that Shoebills are Africa's most iconic birds. These dinosaur-like birds spend the...

    #birds #africa #nature #wildlife #travel #uganda

    Editor's Note

    This shoebill portrait is a wonderful visual reminder that birds are the dinosaurs that didn't die! Just look at it! I love that you captured its iconic bill and intense gaze. Great work using a sh... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Burrowing owls spend most of their time on the ground or on low perches. They live in open habita...

    #birds #nature #wildlife #florida #nikon #grassland #juvenile #owls #birding #nat_geo #burrowing_owls

    Editor's Note

    You perfectly captured the curious nature of these little owls. Your timing is spot on to get the... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Lesser spotted woodpecker (Dryobates minor) I walked around the forest, then I accidentally sa...

    #blue #nature #wildlife #bird #tree #funny #white #animals #branch #black #jump #woodpecker #little #moment

    While on my way to the park I decided to get a shot of of the fall colours reflecting off of a wa...

    #city #urban #wildlife #bird #street #crow

    Four chickens cross a winding country road in Tennessee (It's almost as if the Beatles wrote a...

    #birds #chickens #whydidthechickencrosstheroad #thebeautyofbirdsassignment

    Editor's Note

    HAHA, wow, this is iconic, Laura. I was laughing so hard in my chair. Your timing is great here, both photographically and comedically. I love how you got the street curving away in the background ... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    After have been waiting for these chicks’s(Mergus merganser) leaving their nest for almost one we...

    #birds #child #water #bird #jump #chick #japan #baby #chicks #goosander #hokkaido #protecttheselands

    Editor's Note

    From Your Shot photographer Rose Ungvari: "My what an astonishing journey these little chicks have had so far in their young lives, jumping all the way down from the heights of a tree and then maki... More

    David Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Sandhill cranes have one of the longest fossil histories of any living bird. The oldest positivel...

    #birds #wildlife #fog #sunrise #cranes #protecttheselands #yourshotadventure #planetorplastic

    Editor's Note

    This moment is so quiet and serene as the cranes look for their breakfast in the morning mist. I love that you employed the rule of thirds to make the birds almost camouflaged in the frame. Thank y... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    I heard that there was a newly born baby flamingo at the local zoo. I had to see it. I think the ...

    #birds #cute #flamingos #babybirds

    Editor's Note

    What a special moment shared between a mama flamingo and her baby! We don't often see flamingoes like this and I love you framed this moment with the baby just barely peeking out from behind as it ... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    This pic is of a week old peachicks. I have capture these tiny beauties from the ground level and...

    #birds #beauty #nature #peachicks

    Editor's Note

    What a special connection we're having with these new chicks in their direct eye contact, as well as their curiosity. It's amusing to see some of the most stunningly beautiful birds as babies...I t... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Pelican feeding time on Kangaroo Island.

    #australia #feeding #seagull #pelicans #kangaroo_island #beauty_of_birds

    Editor's Note

    If I learned anything from this assignment is that birds are funny as heck! I love the pelicans gathering around waiting to get their share and the seagull just perches on top of his head, watching... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Taken in Provincetown.

    #birds #nature #wildlife #bird #merganser #redbreasted_merganser

    Editor's Note

    Using a fast shutter speed made this moment so crisp and precise! I love the frozen action of the merganser as it dives underwater. Its spiky feathers accentuates the splash in a lovely way and alm... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Closeup on the feathers of a king penguin's neck in Crozet Islands, French southern and antarctic...

    #penguin #feathers #endangered #detail #kingpenguin #subantarctic #crozet #taaf

    Editor's Note

    This is a brilliant detail of the King penguin's feathers. I love how you've abstracted its color... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The iridescence of the turkey's feathers are amazing! Anytime they move the colors can change in ...

    #birds #abstract #colorful #macro #wildlife #animals #feathers #avian #detail #turkey #wild_turkey

    Feathers of a scarlet macaw. A native of South America . Parrots have Psittacofulvins, a bacte...

    #birds #beauty #nature #feathers #thebeautyofbirdsassignment

    Sleepy goslings in one downy huddle. Shot at local farm store -- and not expecting to find such c...

    #spring #nature #bird #animals #sleeping #geese #letsexplore #gosllings #beautyofbirdsassignment

    Editor's Note

    What a sweet little gaggle of goslings! I love how you filled your frame with their fuzziness letting us use our imagine to guess how many there were. Great work using your iPhone that you had on y... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    It's Summer and every living being need water to beat the heat, even birds too. This white Rumped...

    #weloveanimals #whiet_rumped_munia

    Editor's Note

    Wonderful use of shallow depth of field to give us a sense of the bird stepping out of the crowd to inspect their surroundings. A great testament to their behavior! Jan's comment below made me smil... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    A bird balancing himself between two stalks of reeds. I do not know the name of this bird. Taken ...

    Editor's Note

    I love this plump little bird holding himself up with his legs between two stalks. Birds are so f... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Portrait of Rosie Parks, a friend's Palm cockatoo with her crest raised in response to the camera...

    #nature #bird #portrait #parrot #beautyofbirds #palm_cockatoo

    A gorgeous griffon vulture is seen soaring the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain. How ca...

    #birds #wildlife #animals #wings #raptor #feathers #vultures #vulture #conservation

    Common starlings pretty much live everywhere but I hadn't seen one until a summer in Northern Ca....

    #birds #wildlife #animal #starling #twist #twist_and_shout

    Editor's Note

    I love that you waited to make a photograph of this moment, while the starling is shaking and creating awesome motion. It's wild to see it's head twisting around like that with it's little ruffled ... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    I wanted to take a photo that showed my son's love for his friend's parakeet, which he was caring...

    #bird #kiss #parakeet

    Editor's Note

    This portrait exudes love and tenderness between your son and his friend's parakeet. How special that his friend lets him pet-sit and that the bird loves him, as well! This is a great reminder that... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Thank you to the photographers who participated, taught me a little bit more about the winged creatures in our skies (or the flightless ones with their feet firmly planted on the ground) and for reminding me about how much I loved spending time with grandmother watching the birds outside on the feeder my grandfather had built long before I was born. My favorite is a cardinal, too.

    Thank you all for celebrating the National Geographic Year of the Bird in partnership with the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birdlife International

    Kristen McNicholas
    National Geographic Your Shot, Associate Photo Editor

    Fun fact: The Beauty of Birds is Your Shot's 150th story! Congratulations and thank you to all of the photographers who have shared with us! We're looking forward to the next 150 stories and beyond!

    About the Editor
    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot
    Kristen is an Associate Photo Editor with the Your Shot team. She interned at the White House Photo Office under the Obama Administration as well as Education Week. A proud RIT alumna, dessert enthusiast and Finger Lakes, NY native, Kristen is excited to guide your photographic journey!

    Photographers Published In the Story