City Critters Are Focus of Urban Wildlife Photo Awards

Squirrels, coyotes, and birds pause for their close-ups.

two coyotes on the street at night

Andrew Interisano / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

Two coyotes pass in the night on a street in Ontario. An amateur photographer was there to capture the moment, earning top honors in a wildlife competition.

Andrew Interisano won the inaugural Urban Wildlife Photography Awards with his image “Date Night,” above.

Interisano shared the story behind his winning image:

“I thought it was my car that had caught their attention as I rounded the corner, and maybe it had at first, but as I rolled down the window I heard it was another group of howling coyotes that had piqued their interest. I parked, turned the engine off, and frantically went to work with the camera… however, in the rush of that moment I was soon compelled to put my camera down and soak in the scene”

The competition was organized by Picfair, a London-based photography platform, to highlight photographing city creatures, a pastime that became especially prevalent during pandemic lockdowns.

More than 6,000 photographers submitted images from every continent. Subjects included birds, foxes, and squirrels that were snapped in cities such as San Francisco, Toronto, Melbourne, and London. All Picfair profits on print sales will benefit global conservation non-profit Re:wild.

Here are the winners in each category, as well as some compelling finalists.

Nightlife Winner

rat coming out of sewer

Austin Montero / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

“Life Beyond The Sewer” by Austin Montero (USA)

A photo of a rat surfacing from a sewer in Mexico taken by Austin Montero, an American biologist, won the nightlife category.

Montero says:

”The pandemic forced me to stay in a small town for the last two years. This led me to find several animals using different parts of our city. I have been surprised to see the number of urban structures that many species use. They shelter under bridges, move through aqueducts, or nest along roads. But usually, we don't notice it”

Daylight Winner

flamingo in salt pan

Mano Aliczki / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

“Window to the salt pan" by Mano Aliczki (Hungary)

Hungarian zoologist Mario Aliczki snapped this image of a greater flamingo feeding in an artificial salt pan, seen through a kind of window on the levee. Taken when Aliczki was on vacation in Italy, it won the daylight category.

Aliczki says:

“This national park in Sardinia is home of one of the largest flamingo colonies on the island and allows photography of flamingos with the city and the now abandoned salt evaporating facilities as backdrop, creating exciting compositional opportunities., I managed to catch the moment when a feeding flamingo walked into a wooden frame in a levee on a salt pan.”

Fancy Seeing You Here Winner

raccoon in sewer

Jill Finney / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

“Trash Panda” By Jill Finney (Canada)

For this category, anyone could vote on social media. Canadian photographer Jill Finney captured this photo of a raccoon near a subway station.

Finney says:

“I’ve dreamed of photographing wildlife since I was a kid and only started seriously shooting at the age of almost 50, during covid lockdown when I decided it was time to make my own Nat Geo dreams come true, even if it was only squirrels in the backyard.”

Here are some finalists from the competition:

"Oh Snap!"

monkeys eating bread

Barak / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

Barak of Kingston, Jamaica, was a finalist in the daylight category for this monkey caught mid-bite.

Barak says the animal was "watching the sunrise from the top of Mount Batur, followed by observing the monkeys rush and take all the leftover breakfasts. I tend to like to photograph monkeys in particular as they are very photogenic in my opinion because of their human like nature."

"Man You Scared Me"

colorful birds on pole

Kim Borg / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

Another daylight finalist, professional photographer Kim Borg of Queensland, Australia, photographed rainbow lorikeets on a rail overlooking the ocean.

"The rainbow lorikeet is a species of parrot found in Australia. These beautiful birds are real playful characters with magnificent interactions"

"Tanning in Style"

squirrel in sun with city skyline in back

Nicolas Bamberski / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

Professional photographer and videographer Nicolas Bamberski of the U.S. was a finalist in the people's choice category with this image of a ground squirrel in the sun with San Francisco in the background.

"Ground squirrels are a common sight in Alameda but usually stick to their rocky areas. This boss was resting in the sun on a warm concrete slab and offered a perfect picture opportunity, especially because I had my long telephoto lens with me and was able to get a nice shot from fairly far away, hence not spooking him/her out, yet magnifying the urban background dramatically thanks to the compression effect of the long focal length."

"Foggy Late Night Walk"

foggy late night walk

Doug Wallace / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

This nighttime finalist by amateur photographer Doug Wallace of the U.K. was shot on a foggy night by the River Cam in Cambridge.

"What's Up Human"

bird looking closeup

Jozef Kovalík / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

Jozef Kovalík of Sabinov, Slovakia, is a daylight finalist with this image of a bird peeking in the window.

"Every year when these beautiful birds are hatched it is a new story. Story of new life. It is so amazing how mother is feeding them and taking care of them. I love to hear their typical sound and see them when I teach my students. They become part of our school. We often explore their life through the window as I was doing when I took this photo. It was just a moment which I was lucky to photograph.
I love to show people that wildlife is everywhere around us. You do not need to go to the forest necessarily ´cause you just have to open your eyes and start searching for wildlife where you live. When you do it you will definitely find it"

"Free Kick"

brulga bird kicking

Cheryl Rogers / Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

Cheryl Rogers of Australia was a people's choice finalist for this photo of a high-kicking brolga bird.