The best urban wildlife photography of the year

Lions, tigers and bears, alas! Well, make them rats, coyotes, and bread-stealing monkeys, and you have the winners of the Picfair Urban Wildlife Photography Awards.

Since 2019, the number of urban wildlife photographs in Picfair’s photo portfolio and e-commerce platform has quadrupled. And the competition, co-hosted by Nikon, Peak Design, MPB and Camtraptions, aims to highlight cheeky and resourceful animals and the talent of photographers who catch them in the act.

Related: The best cameras for wildlife photography

About the Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

The international competition features four categories: an overall winner and best in “Daylight,” “Nightlife,” and “Glad to See You Here,” featuring animals photographed in unexpected places. The works of the winners and finalists are exhibited and sold in a gallery, with 50% of the proceeds going to the wildlife conservation organization, Re:wild.

A panel of judges determined the winners and featured three wildlife photographers: conservationist Melissa Groo; urban wildlife photographer Andrew Budziak; and Sony Ambassador and Camtraptions Founder Will Burrard-Lucas.

The overall winner received a Nikon Z6II and a 24-70mm kit lens. The winner of the Daylight category won a Peak Design slider strap and carbon fiber tripod, plus an Everyday backpack. Camtraptions provided the winner of the Nightlife category with a Garden Camera Trap package, while the winner of “Fancy see you here” got a £500 MPB voucher. All winners also got a 12-by-7-inch print of their image and a lifetime subscription to Picfair.

Related: 10 Nature and Wildlife Instagram Accounts to Follow

Overall Winner: date nightby Andrew Interisano

two coyotes on a dark road picfair urban wildlife photography contest
date night. Andres Interisano

Overall winner Andrew Interisano of Ontario, Canada describes an otherworldly scene the night he encountered two coyotes and a pack howling in the distance.

“Soon I was forced to put down the camera and immerse myself in the scene. I’m not sure if it was the howling and howling that eerily filled the street, or the sticky cold of late spring that gave me goosebumps. I remember that the air was so thick with pollen from the local orchards that it was like mist swirling around the streetlamps; it smelled wonderfully sweet and blended well with the freshly cut field across the street. I appreciate that impulse to put work aside and focus on experiencing the moment. Sometimes when you slow down and tune in to your senses, you walk away with more than just a photo.”

Nightlife Winner: Life beyond the sewerby Austin Montero

rat on empty street at night picfair urban wildlife photography contest
Life beyond the sewer. austin montero

He looks like Remy from Ratatouille paid a visit to Latin America in the winning image of the American Austin Montero. We are no longer in Paris!

“The clock strikes midnight in Cuernavaca, Mexico,” writes Montero. “The lack of steps from above indicates that a rat (Rattus norvegicus) is peering out of a city sewer. It stands on its two hind legs and sniffs the air. What is he smelling? Food? Other rats? Or… danger?

Light: window to the salineby Mano Aliczki

Rats, coyotes and raccoons, oh my!  The best urban wildlife photography of the year
window to the saline. aliczki hand

Mano Aliczki from Hungary recounts the struggle for the perfect shot of this hungry flamingo, seen through a dam window. Although wildlife can be unpredictable, when everything lines up, the results are beautiful.

“I saw the lone flamingo in the water from the opposite bank and had to quickly move into position, anticipating (or rather hoping) that it would line up with the wooden frame to take a photo,” Aliczki recalls. “The flamingo raised its head from under the water for a split second when I got into frame, allowing only one shot, before continuing to feed.”

What a coincidence to see you here: trash pandaby Jill Finney

raccoon in drain pipe picfair urban wildlife photography awards
‘Garbage panda’. jill finney

They may not be as cuddly as a real panda, but this raccoon is definitely cute. Jill Finney from Canada caught the little guy hiding in a drain pipe, sheltering from the weather, or maybe looking for treasure/food? We will never know.

Some of our other favorites

The birdsby Leanne Hay

toronto cormorants picfair urban wildlife photography awards
The birds. leanne hay

I love photographs of birds in flight. It represents freedom, adventure and the unknown. Canada resident Leanne Hay captured this moment from her favorite spot in Toronto, which is great in the spring when the cormorants fly west.

“I was ready for sunrise at 6:30am and the cormorants started flying in slowly and then by the hundreds. The sound they make en masse is unforgettable. I’ve seen this a couple of times, but never such a large amount. What a memorable morning!”

Peak in the Botanical Gardenby Leigh Henningham

swan at melbourne botanic gardens picfair urban wildlife photography contest
Peak in the botanical gardens. leigh henningham

Leigh Henningham from Australia made me laugh with her almost cartoon-like image of a swan looking through the lens at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. I can almost hear the voice of the swan like a silly animated character. “Who? Me? Yes?”

stylish tanby Nicholas Bamberski

squirrel on the san francisco skyline picfair urban wildlife photography contest
Tan in style. Nicholas Bambersky

I laughed out loud when I read San Francisco resident Nicolas Bamberski’s caption for this photo. “A chief ground squirrel lies in the sun, with the bay and the city of San Francisco in the background.” The squirrel definitely looks like a boss, and the comical moment came when I realised… the animal really is some sort of “ground boss” squirrel. This little guy sure lives up to his name.

Next Year Urban Wildlife Photography Awards

Next year’s competition isn’t open for submissions yet, but if you’re anything like this year’s awards, you’ll be able to start entering in late March 2023. Keep an eye on the contest website for more details.