Roadrunner blocked by US border wall wins best bird photo of 2021


The Bird Photographer of the Year 2021 competition has announced its winners, with a roadrunner stopped in its tracks at the US-Mexico border wall winning the grand prize.

The Bird Photographer of the Year is a global photography competition designed to celebrate the beauty and diversity of birds. Entrants compete for a grand prize of £ 5,000 (approx. $ 6,895) as well as other prizes including photo equipment from Olympus and binoculars from Swarovski Optik. The contest is open to residents of any territory and to participants of all ages. There are eight categories to enter and the contest is open to people who wish to submit anything from a single image to a large portfolio.

This year, Mexican photographer Alejandro Prieto won first place in the competition for his image of a roadrunner on the US-Mexico border. He was named winner of the “Birds in the environment” category and winner of the grand prize.

BLOCKED | Alejandro Prieto, Mexico | Nikon D850 with Nikkor 70-200mm f / 2.8 lens. Focal length 112mm, 1/320 second, f / 14, ISO 200.

The 3,000 km-long US-Mexican border crosses and straddles some of the continent’s most biologically diverse regions. It is home to uniquely adapted mammals, reptiles, birds and plants, some of which are not found anywhere else on the planet. Many species will be affected if the US government decides to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Border infrastructure not only physically blocks the movement of wildlife, but it also destroys and fragments habitats. Many desert animals are nomadic wanderers to some extent and a wall would sever habitat connectivity and prevent them from moving freely from one place to another. In this photograph, a Grand Roadrunner approaches the Naco, Arizona border wall with what almost looks like a sense of bewilderment.

“The border wall crosses deserts, mountains and even mangroves. It is not just a desert, and it is in fact a very high biodiversity with more than 1,500 animal and plant species threatened by the wall ”, explains Prieto. “I saw many different animals reach the wall before turning around and walking away.”

“The border wall poses a real threat to the biodiversity of the region due to habitat fragmentation,” according to the Bird Photographer of the Year competition. “It physically blocks crucial migration routes for animals such as long-horned sheep, American antelope, black bear, bison and even jaguar.”

The photo was chosen as the winner because it is not a typical bird photo, but because it tells a strong story.

“The roadrunner seems so vulnerable in the face of the immense border wall which dominates the frame,” continues the organization.

Here are the other winners chosen by the contest judges

Best portrait

UNDERWATER PORTRAIT | Felipe Foncueva, Spain | Gold | Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Canon 8-15mm f / 4 Focal length 15mm; 1/10, f / 9, ISO 200.
SING FROM THE HEART | Maofeng Shen, China | Money | Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon 600mm f / 4 lens, 1/640 second, f / 6.3, ISO 400.
NIGHT HUNTER | Jonas Classon, Sweden | Bronze | Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon 200–400mm f / 4 lens. Focal length 300mm,
1/160 second, f / 4, ISO 3200.

Birds in the environment

FOREST SOIL CLAIM | Joshua Galicki, USA | Money | Canon EOS-1D X Mark III with Canon 24-70mm f / 4 lens. 24mm focal length, 1/500 second, f / 8, ISO 6400.
BUF A BEC YELLOW WITH CAP BUFFALO | Barbara Fleming, USA | Bronze | Nikon D4S with Nikkor 500mm f / 4 lens and 1.4x teleconverter. Focal length 700mm, 1/1600 second, f / 8, ISO 1600.

Attention to detail

DISAPPEARANCE | Rafael Armada, Spain | Bronze | Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Canon EF 100–400mm f / 4.5–5.6 II lens. Focal length 100mm, 1/30 second, f / 14, ISO 100.
GROW | Raymond Hennessy, USA | Money | Nikon D4S with Nikkor 500mm f / 4 lens. Focal length 500mm, 1/640 second, f / 4, ISO 400.
BLUE FLAMES | Kerry Wu, USA | Bronze | Canon EOS 7D II with Canon 100mm f / 4.5-5.6 II lens. 400mm focal length
1/1000 second, f / 5.6, ISO 1250.

Bird behavior

FLORAL BATHTUB | Mousam Ray, India | Gold | Nikon D500 with Nikkor 300mm f / 4 and 1.4x teleconverter.
420mm focal length, 1/4000 second, f / 7.1, ISO 1600.
THE FACE OF DEATH | Massimiliano Apollon, Italy | Money | Sony A9 II with Canon 600mm f / 4 lens and 1.4x teleconverter. Focal length 840mm, 1/2000 second, f / 6.3, ISO 3200.
PREVENT | Julie Halliday, Falkland Islands | Bronze | Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon 70-200mm f / 2.8 II lens and
2x teleconverter. Focal length 400 mm; 1/1600 second; f / 5.6; ISO 250.

Birds in flight

THIRST | Tzahi Finkelstein, Israel | Gold | Nikon D500 with Nikkor 300mm f / 4 PF lens. Focal length 300mm, 1/4000 second, f / 7.1, ISO 1800.
THE ART OF MOVEMENT | Nicolas Reusens, Spain | Money | Canon R6 with Laowa 100mm f / 2.8 macro lens. Focal length 100mm, 1/25 second, f / 13, ISO 200.
FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED | Hannes Lochner, South Africa | Bronze | Nikon D850 with Nikkor 70-200mm f / 2.8 lens. Focal length 120mm, 1/5000 second, f / 4, ISO 200.

Black and white

CHINDER PENGUIN | Renato Granieri, United Kingdom | Gold | Nikon D4S with Nikkor 80–400mm f / 4.5–5.6 lens.
130mm focal length, 1/1250 second, f / 16, ISO 800.
FEATHER LIGHT | James Rogerson, UK. | Money | Canon EOS-1D X with Canon 500mm f / 4 lens and
1.4x teleconverter. Focal length 700 mm, 1/1000 second,
f / 11, ISO 1600.
ON THE BRETON ROCKS | Nathalie Chanteau, France | Bronze | Nikon D500 with Nikkor 200–500mm f / 5.6 lens. Focal length 500mm,
1/1600 second, f / 10, ISO 200.

Urban birds

DIPPER ON PURCHASE CART | Terry Whittaker, United Kingdom | Gold | Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 16–35mm f / 4 lens. 22mm focal length, 1/800 second, f / 10, ISO 1000.
LOCKING | William Steel, South Africa | Money | Canon EOS 6D with Sigma 120-300mm f / 2.8 Sport lens. Focal length 252mm,
1/3200 second, f / 4, ISO 800.
THE GUARDIANS | Paolo Crocetta, Italy | Bronze | Nikon D300 with 10.5mm f / 2.8 Fisheye Nikkor lens. Focal length 10.5mm, 1/125 second, f / 18, ISO 250.

Creative imagery

SPRATS AND BREAD | Ruediger Schulz, Germany | Gold | Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Sigma 150-600mm f / 5-6.3 sport lens and 1.4x teleconverter. Composite.
FUNNEL | Kathryn Cooper, United Kingdom | Money | Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Canon 24-105mm f / 4 lens. Stacked and merged exhibits.
CRANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOTIVE | Ruth Hughes, United Kingdom | Bronze | Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon 24-70mm f / 2.8 II lens. Composite.

To see all of these and other images that have been recognized by the contest, visit

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