Vancouver photographer wins grand prize for photo of nuzzling pigeons

Liron Gertsman won the top prize in the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards for best wild bird pictures
"Psst. Bert! We won best photo!" (Liron Gertsman/Audubon Photography Awards)

Birds are amazing subjects for photographs.

They are often colourful. They come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. And they often are in flight, which captures our imaginations. Who hasn't watched a bird flying around and thought to themselves: I wonder what it is like to simply flap your 'arms' and up you go?

So it makes sense that the National Audubon Society gives out awards for excellent work in bird photography. (This is an American non-profit organization that was founded in 1905 to protect birds and their habitats.) The awards are given to North American photographers that highlight "the beauty of birds and the joy of capturing them through photographs and videos."

The 2023 edition of their awards was just released. And the grand prize was given to a Canadian photographer from Vancouver named Liron Gertsman. And his winning image?

A pair of nuzzling rock pigeons. You can see it at the top of this post. Awwwwww!

Give it up for pigeons!

Embed from Getty Images

Because pigeons are so common in cities, many people take them for granted or even see them as pests. (Getty Embed)

We really love Gertsman's pigeon photo.

First, it is such a tender picture (bird nuzzles!). And we are very taken by the iridescent colours on their necks. (Iridescence is when pigments seem to change colour and/or intensity of colour depending on the angle at which you view them).

But maybe the coolest part of it? It is an award given to pigeons!

Let's face it. Perhaps because they are so common in the city, or because they are mostly grey, pigeons aren't always appreciated the same way that majestic eagles, cute shuffling penguins, or brightly coloured songbirds are.

Gertsman agrees.

In an interview with CBC, he admitted that "I definitely overlooked pigeons for a while. But that changed when I captured this picture because I just saw them shining in a new light."

"When you take a moment to appreciate a bird like that closely," he continued, "there is so much subtle beauty to be enjoyed."

Look closely

He's right! From the orange-red pop of the eyes, to the four or five different shades of grey all blending into each other, and then that sparkling green to purple neck, the rock pigeon is really a lovely animal!

But the real feature is the way that the birds seem to be embracing. Is the bird on the right giving the other a friendly scratch? Cleaning up a tiny insect invader? Or whispering a funny bird secret?

Whatever the case, congratulations to Liron Gertsman, as well as the winners in other categories. See many of them for yourself in this video gallery!

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