30 Stunning Photos That Capture the Striking Beauty of Birds
With warmer weather comes more sunshine, spring flowers, and beautiful bird sightings. From owls to orioles, we’ve collected some of the best reader-submitted bird photos.
“One early spring morning, I noticed this Canada goose with her goslings sleeping comfortably underneath her wing. It was a particularly cool morning and her little ones needed warmth. I quickly grabbed my camera, hoping they wouldn’t move a feather until I had a chance to capture the moment. I was thrilled to see Mom and babies still snuggled in as I snapped this photo. I never knew Canada geese did this. So adorable!”—Joanne Killmer, Rindge, New Hampshire
“I had just put my oriole feeder outside when this Baltimore oriole stopped by for a picture. I love the contrast of the red begonia with the orange breast of the oriole.”—Craig Watts, Hartsburg, Missouri
Bonus Bird Tip: Did you know that fruit and nectar plants attract orioles, too? Try trumpet vine and crabapple trees.
“A splotch of blue gently swaying up and down on a piece of dried sea grass caught my eye as I was walking with my husband. I got closer, little by little, so that I didn’t frighten it. The blue grosbeak clung to its grass perch and I got the shot.”—Dori Montgomery, Rimersburg, Pennsylvania. We love these photos of beautiful birds, but have you seen these hilarious bird photos that shouldn’t be missed?
“Last summer, I was lucky enough to see two barred owls in Tualatin Hills Nature Park on several occasions. I was scanning the forest again in hopes of spotting them when I saw them together about 25 feet into the forest. One flew off in pursuit of something, and just up the trail, I came upon it. The owl was 6 feet up in a tree. I watched while at least 10 people walked right by it, not knowing what they were missing! I’ll admit I didn’t tell them, because I didn’t want the owl to get spooked and fly off.”—Kathryn Aldrich, Beaverton, Oregon
“My mother has plenty of oak trees in her yard, and this male Nuttall’s woodpecker was trying to make a safe nest for himself and his mate. I watched the woodpecker pair for days and took a lot of photos. This was my best one.”—Ramouna Minooeifar, Gold River, California
Bonus Bird Tip: Did you know that although associated with oak trees, Nuttall’s woodpeckers eat a small number of acorns?
“Don’t you love it when you’re in the right place at the right time? In late May, I was in the kitchen making hummingbird nectar and happened to glance out the window. A male western tanager was sitting on my oriole feeder, which I’d filled with orange marmalade. A tiny drip on his beak revealed he’d already had a taste. I snapped several photos before this brilliant creature flew away.”—GeriAnne Abeyta, Espanola, New Mexico. You can only see these beautiful birds in one place in the world.
“At the start of migration, I noticed an influx of male hummingbirds, but I had put off photographing them because of the heat and humidity of central Alabama. A day dawned that was cooler but rainy. Overcast weather isn’t the best for photographing hummingbirds, but I went outside anyway. The clouds broke just enough to bounce light off the big puffy clouds overhead, and the hummingbirds were going crazy. I spent several hours with this particular male ruby-throated hummingbird. I like this shot because it’s an unusual glimpse into the secret life of hummingbirds.”—Julia Bartosh, Notasulga, Alabama
Bonus Bird Tip: Did you know that to keep clean, hummingbirds preen their feathers after a bath or a visit to a mister?
“This northern cardinal stopped by our Kanzan cherry tree last spring. It was such a stunning sight to look out of my kitchen window to see a bright red bird among lush pink cherry blossoms. I looked twice to make sure of what I saw. The cardinal stayed perfectly still long enough for me to capture the splendor.”—Lesley Jeal, Manchester, Michigan
“A flock of 20 eastern bluebirds spent the season in my yard and I kept them happy with plenty of mealworms! This picture is by far my favorite.”—Ralph Kiertianis, Griswold, Connecticut
“Who doesn’t love a black-capped chickadee? This little bird was so calm and allowed me to get quite close while it enjoyed sniffing the flowers on my back porch. I love the specks of pollen on its face.”—Steph DeFerie, Harwich, Massachusetts
“An American robin built her nest in a tree right by our front porch and, of course, we kept a close eye on it. One day, I checked on them and discovered that the wind had blown the nest out and the babies were lying on the ground. We put the nest back in the tree and very carefully placed the babies in as well. Within minutes, the mother robin was back and all was well again. We had so much fun watching these little guys, especially observing how the father robin played a part in caretaking.”—Dwayne Proffitt, Tiskilwa, Illinois
Bonus Bird Tip: Did you know that American robins may have as many as three broods per year?
“In March, we watched a red-bellied woodpecker pair build a nest in the top of a dead tree in our backyard. Soon after, they were proud parents of a baby! It was amazing to watch this sweet family prepare for and nurture its young.”—Jeri Hughes, The Woodlands, Texas
Bonus Bird Tip: Did you know that red-bellied woodpeckers may nest in the same tree year after year, but will create a new hole?
“For whatever reason, this oriole would only take the white yarn, When the white was gone, it quit coming. We put more white yarn out and it was back!”—Roger Parsons, Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. Talking about beautiful birds, here are some of the most majestic birds found in nature.
“My husband and I love our bird-friendly backyard. We had a slow start, but once we cleared an area for seed distribution and set out a couple of birdbaths, it was only a matter of time before we began seeing colorful birds. After three years of avid bird-watching, we saw our first-ever great kiskadee last spring. What a beautiful sight!”—Sylvia Hiltz, Carrizo Springs, Texas
“Last spring, I had the pleasure of visiting Tucson, Arizona, when plants were exploding with blooms and wildlife was everywhere. I’ll admit, I got a little obsessed with getting the perfect shot of a hummingbird or bird-of-prey. But in doing so, I realized I was overlooking many other beautiful birds, like this female lesser goldfinch. This photo is one of my favorites because of how the flowers frame the bird.”—Anne Girton, Edina, Minnesota
“I often watched geese and mallards at nearby Evergreen Lake, but I’d never heard of a wood duck before. So when a friend mentioned seeing wood ducks at Sterne Park in Littleton, I was curious. We came upon the colorful birds swimming in the park’s pond. What a lovely fall afternoon it was!”—Ann Zimmerman, Idaho Springs, Colorado.
“It was incredibly exciting to capture this cedar waxwing tossing a crabapple into the air at just the right moment. The bird’s behavior was also interesting to observe. The waxwing didn’t eat every crabapple—it punctured each one with its pointy tongue to taste the fruit first. Then it discarded some crabapples and ate the others.” —Gary Detonnancourt, Harrisville, Rhode Island
“This male northern flicker visited my suet feeder last year. After he was done feeding, he landed on a stump in my yard and relaxed for a few seconds. I love how his feathers are all fluffed up!” I’ve always been fond of this species, from the call they make to the striking feather pattern on their heads.” —Janine Martin, North Branch, Michigan. Take a look at some of these unique birdhouses that we wish we could move into ourselves.
“It’s such a joy when winter birds, like this dark-eyed junco, arrive here. Juncos always look so cheerful, regardless of the temperature, and they seem to enjoy foraging in the snow.” —John Cushing, Vienna, Virginia
“Thrilled was an understatement when I spotted this northern parula while walking the McDade trail in northeast Pennsylvania. He was very hard to find and photograph—I could hear him better than I could see him. But for a few seconds he let me take a couple of shots!” —Nancy Tully, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
“Blue jays are perfect birds to photograph thanks to their iridescent feathers, soft blue crown, and majestic size. This beautiful jay was calling attention to itself while perched on our flowering crabapple tree.” —Karol Habersetzer, West Bend, Wisconsin
Great blue heron
“A beautiful great blue heron stops by every day, and I caught this image while it was preening along the banks of the lake in my backyard. I adore the plumage of these elegant water birds.” —Kathryn Hendon, Floral City, Florida. Have you ever wondered what happens to birds when a hurricane hits?
“My friends and I love to explore and experience the best of each season. Last winter brought a rare influx of snowy owls. We heard that one snowy was consistently seen at a local farm, so we headed there, hoping to catch a glimpse. When we arrived, this magnificent bird seemed to be waiting for us.” —Katie Heade, Massillon, Ohio
“This black-and-white warbler was a first-time visitor to my yard last summer, and it was such a delight to see. It had a beautiful song and a very different look. Before gathering information on the bird, I dubbed it a ‘zebra warbler.’”—Ginger English, Bauxite, Alabama
“Dozens of scarlet tanagers landed at Fort De Soto Park after they crossed the Gulf of Mexico. These birds filling up the oak trees was a really special sight.”—Peter Brannon, Tampa, Florida
“I saw a family of barn swallows perched high in a tree near water. I thought wistfully, ‘It would be great if they were perched right there on that log.’ When I returned the next day, that’s where they were!”—Dan Miller, Lafayette, Indiana. Check out these jaw-dropping facts about hummingbirds.
“After the first cold front of the year, I headed to a local lake for some birding. Thanks to temperatures in the mid-30s, overcast skies, and a brisk north wind, the birds stayed sheltered in the underbrush. But finally, my patience paid off. After several minutes, a ruby-crowned kinglet gave me my picture-perfect moment.”—Ron Newhouse, Bryan, Texas
“I waited all winter for this varied thrush to come close enough for a portrait. The bird skirted the edge of my property, just out of camera range, searching for food. It wasn’t until a rare snowfall covered its feeding grounds that it came to see what I was serving at my feeders.”—Sally Harris, Carlsborg, Washington
“Roseate spoonbills are my favorite birds. Several were in the water when I spotted this one flying in to join them at Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.” —Tom Miller, Towson, Maryland. If you loved these photos of beautiful birds, see if you can guess the official state bird in all 50 states.