In a pleasant change from Covid-19 news, we’re happy to share that the winners of the Bird Photographer of the Year 2020 contest were recently announced, giving us a brief break from images of baby-blue facemasks in favor of far chirpier ones.

Two Israeli photographers, Moshe Cohen and Gadi Shmila, won Gold in the “Attention to Detail” and “Birds in Flight” categories, respectively, with Shmila also being commended in the “Bird Behavior” and “Birds in Flight” categories.

A difficult-to-spot owl nestles against a tree, winning his photographer the top spot in the ‘Attention to Detail’ category. (Moshe Cohen/ Bird Photographer of the Year)

The Bird Photographer of the Year is a global contest open to bird-loving professional photographers and amateurs alike in what organizers call “a celebration of avian beauty and diversity and a tribute to the flexibility and quality of today’s modern digital imaging systems.” The contest includes eight categories, such as “Best Portrait,” “Birds in the Environment” and “Garden and Urban Birds.”

An eagle devours his prey. (Gadi Shmila/Bird Photographer of the Year)

Cohen’s gold-worthy image was of a Scops owl resting against a tree trunk and almost blending into it.“In my photography I look for the magical symbiosis between the bird and its habitat. This Scops owl is a perfect example,” he says.

Shmila’s gold entry, meanwhile, was of a hoopoe – Israel’s national bird – making its way across the night sky.

“I am a carpenter even though I have a BA in biology,” Shmila says.“Ever since I was a child birds fascinated me. I used to spend hours watching them. I enjoy giving a new space of time to the split second that usually evades the eye.”

A barn swallow takes a sip of water. (Gadi Shmila/Bird Photographer of the Year)

One of his commended photos was of a spotted eagle in the middle of its meal, taken in the Carmel, while his other commended photo was of a barn swallow opening its mouth for a drink of water.