<p><strong>A pelagic cormorant penetrates a globe of fish off Baja California, <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/mexico-guide/">Mexico</a>. First-place winner in the inaugural <a href="http://www.hbwcontest.com/">World Bird Photo Contest</a>, the picture is "one of the most surprising photos in terms of uniting information and art," judge Josep del Hoyo said of photographer Cristobal Serrano's entry.</strong></p><p>"It's strange that in a bird-photography contest the winner is one where the bird is 2, maybe 3, percent of the picture, but ... it's as artistic as any picture can be," added del Hoyo, who served as the competition's jury secretary and co-edited the multivolume <a href="http://www.lynxeds.com/catalog/hbw?utm_source=web&amp;utm_medium=link&amp;utm_campaign=hbwcontest"><em>Handbook of the Birds of the World</em></a>, which sponsored the contest.</p><p>Photographers worldwide submitted pictures of 3,000 <a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/">bird</a> species for the contest, which aims to highlight the diversity of the planet's feathered creatures.</p><p>(See <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/02/pictures/110228-best-pictures-worlds-rarest-birds-ibis-owl-crane-parrot/">"Best Rare-Bird Pictures of 2010 Named."</a>)</p><p><em>—Kastalia Medrano</em></p>

First Prize: "Shoal of Life"

A pelagic cormorant penetrates a globe of fish off Baja California, Mexico. First-place winner in the inaugural World Bird Photo Contest, the picture is "one of the most surprising photos in terms of uniting information and art," judge Josep del Hoyo said of photographer Cristobal Serrano's entry.

"It's strange that in a bird-photography contest the winner is one where the bird is 2, maybe 3, percent of the picture, but ... it's as artistic as any picture can be," added del Hoyo, who served as the competition's jury secretary and co-edited the multivolume Handbook of the Birds of the World, which sponsored the contest.

Photographers worldwide submitted pictures of 3,000 bird species for the contest, which aims to highlight the diversity of the planet's feathered creatures.

(See "Best Rare-Bird Pictures of 2010 Named.")

—Kastalia Medrano

Photograph by Cristobal Serrano, HBW/Rex

Best Bird Pictures: Air, Sea, Ice Shots Win New Contest

Go undersea, into the air, and out on a limb with the winning shots of the first World Bird Photo Contest.

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