20 Inspirational Pictures of Birds in Flight

Updated: Aug. 16, 2023

It's always awe-inspiring to see birds soaring on the wind. Admire their grace and beauty with these incredible photos of birds in flight.

birds in flight
Courtesy Jon Haas

Spring Migration

“I captured this image of migrating swans at the Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve in central Pennsylvania. Every late winter/early spring the snow geese and swans stop over here and the skies and lake are filled with lovely white birds in flight. For this shot I used a Canon 6D Mark II with a Canon 70-300MM zoom lens,” says Birds & Blooms reader Jon Haas.

When you’re done looking at photos of birds in flight, discover everything you should know about bird wings and flight feathers.

278124850 1 Joe Campanellie Bnb Bypc 2021
Courtesy Joe Campanellie

Redbird on Dad Duty

“Was spending my days focused on our backyard birds due to a knee injury. I photographed this male cardinal in flight as he was bringing food to his young who were waiting in a nearby tree. I love the motion in the wings,” says Joe Campanellie.

Can a cardinal fly without tail feathers?

275539572 1 Jeffrey Kauffman Bnb Bypc 2021 (1)
Courtesy Jeffrey Kauffman

Northern Flicker’s Golden Wings

“This was the second year that northern flickers had made a nest in an old maple tree on our property. I wanted to capture all aspects of their their nest building and raising their fledglings. This picture is of the male returning to the nest. I was amazed by how fast they fly. When I saw this image, I was so excited. I think it shows the beauty of these birds with their yellow wings, which is only caught when the flickers are birds in flight,” says Jeffrey Kauffman.

Discover fabulous facts about extreme bird feathers.

275661442 1 Alison Theodore Bnb Bypc 2021, birds in flight
Courtesy Alison Theodore

Great Egret at the Lake

“We have a local lake that was drained and being refilled one summer. I visited frequently to take shots of the wildlife in and around the lake. There was a slight wind one day, strong enough to make the water move with this rippling effect. This great egret had just taken flight and I started clicking away. I ended up with this beautiful shot of the bird in flight. The contrast between the bird’s white feathers and the blackness of the rippling water is so beautiful,” says Alison Theodore.

How fast do hummingbirds fly and flap their wings?

Bnbbyc17 Clifford Farrell
Courtesy Clifford Farrell

On Eagle’s Wings

“Every weekend I take my dog for a walk around New York’s Moreau Lake in search of bald eagles. Before taking this picture, I had never seen one clearly. When I saw this eagle I was ecstatic. Took several pictures and this one was best. It had been on my photographic bucket list for a long time. Now I just need a picture of a moose!” says Clifford Farrell.

253350371 1 Barbara Case Bnb Bypc2020
Courtesy Barbara Case

Green Heron in the Sky

“A lake near my home in San Dimas, California, attracts a variety of birds. This beautiful green heron flew over the lake, and I luckily had a telephoto lens on my camera. Made my day!” says Barbara Case.

Is it a heron? Is it an egret? Learn about 10 species of herons and egrets found in the United States.

252823819 1 Gary Hale Bnb Bypc2020
Courtesy Gary Hale

Blue Jay Birds in Flight

“I love sitting outside in the morning when blue jays are active. I took this photo with the sun at a perfect angle to capture the wonderful colors,” says Gary Hale.

252670882 1 George Kurzik Bnb Bypc2020
Courtesy George Kurzik

A Swallow Skirmish

“While photographing swallows at our community garden in Hellam, Pennsylvania, I captured this image of a bit of a skirmish between this mating pair!” says George Kurzik.

251084405 1 Karen Fahrlander Bnb Bypc2020
Courtesy Karen Fahrlander

Great Gray Owl Takes Flight

“I am fortunate to live in Mountain View County, Alberta, where great grey owls live. This owl was particularly curious about what I was doing and flew toward me to investigate,” says Karen Fahrlander.

Bnbbyc17 Ingrid Fehr
Courtesy Ingrid Fehr

Goldfinch Flying by a Sunflower

“The chances of finding a goldfinch in full plumage landing on a beautiful, perfectly blooming sunflower that planted itself from birdseed seems like serendipity! New to photography, I was trying to figure out how to work my camera when this friendly goldfinch didn’t seem bothered by my husband and me sitting on our patio. He was on our feeder and landed on a sunflower. It’s a great beginners luck picture,” says Ingrid Fehr.

birds in flight snow buntings
Courtesy Jennifer Speth

Speedy Snow Buntings

Snow buntings only visit us in southeast Michigan during the winter. This particular flock had chosen an empty cornfield as their favored dining spot and numbered in the hundreds, maybe even thousands of birds. I parked my car on the side of the road in the middle of the field, hoping that the flock would come close enough for me to get a decent view of them. To my delight, the entire flock flew directly over my car, and I was able to capture a fraction of them on camera. I always thought they looked like toasted marshmallows! This image was shot with a Canon EOS 7D Mark II and EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens,” says Jennifer Speth.

What makes hummingbird feathers so shimmery?

253745705 1 Denise Neuendorf Bnb Bypc2020, birds in flight
Courtesy Denise Neuendorf

Kingbird Feeding Time

“While enjoying the peacefulness of a local wetland, I heard little chirps behind me and, upon turning, noticed these two fledgling eastern kingbirds begging for food. Before long, mom showed up with a delectable dragonfly, much to the delight of one and surely the disappointment of the other. I continued watching in awe as both parents hunted tirelessly. This is one of my favorite photographs because seeing birds in their natural habitat skillfully caring for their little ones warms my heart,” says Denise Neuendorf.

253944559 1 Douglas Beall Bnb Bypc2020, birds in flight
Courtesy Douglas Beall

Wood Duck Birds in Flight

“I took this photo of a wood duck taking off in fall after feeding in forest pond. A group of ducks were taking turns exercising their wings and showing deep, rich colors,” says Douglas Beall.

Become a duck expert by learning how to identify these 20 types of ducks.

274234305 1 Curt Lundeen Bnb Bypc 2021
Courtesy Curt Lundeen

Soaring Great Horned Owl

“We have a pair of great horned owls that nest nearby and come to hunt quite often. I took this during one of the dives for food in a small wildflower patch we have in corner of our lot,” says Curt Lundeen.

Do mourning dove feathers and wings make noise?

274794147 1 Lisa Young Bnb Bypc 2021
Courtesy Lisa Young

Bohemian Waxwing Birds in Flight

“I took this photo of bohemian waxwings on a sunny winter day, eating the leftover fruit from a small cherry tree at Lake Luzerne, New York. This photo shows only three of the dozens of birds that were on this tree fighting for the fruit!” says Lisa Young.

274986346 1 Debbie Hartmann Bnb Bypc 2021
Courtesy Debbie Hartmann

A Favorite Hummingbird Photo

“I’ve always wanted to try to attract hummingbirds to my patio, so I thought I would finally give it a shot. I was successful in attracting the tiny birds with three sugar water feeders and a few hanging begonia flower plants. Out of the hundreds of photos I took, I narrowed them down to my favorites and created a calendar for my family and friends. This ruby-throated hummingbird became the cover of the calendar and is my favorite bird photo I have ever taken,” says Debbie Hartmann.

Can hummingbirds even fly backwards?

275220260 1 Gary Casto Bnb Bypc 2021, birds in flight
Courtesy Gary Casto

Red-Bellied Woodpecker Birds in Flight

“I took this photo in the spring as this red-bellied woodpecker was leaving a feeder. I had been trying to photograph one of them, but somehow, they evaded me. This one had been following the same route as he left the feeder, and I was able to photograph him,” says Gary Casto.

275285032 1 Dale James Bnb Bypc 2021 (1), birds in flight
Courtesy Dale James

Turkey Vulture Takes to the Air

“We were visiting the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, California, and this turkey vulture was just taking off. I liked the way it was keeping an eye on me as it went by,” says Dale James.

275407858 1 Pamela Ewing Bnb Bypc 2021, birds in flight
Courtesy Pamela Ewing

Evening Grosbeak Navigates a Squall

“We had the good fortune of having small flocks of evening grosbeaks visit our central Maine yard one winter. One morning in early January, during a snow squall, this beauty did me the favor of taking off and heading directly at me while I was ready with my camera. A thrilling moment!” says Pamela Ewing.

These are the 5 types of grosbeak birds you should know.

275447899 1 David Cohen Bnb Bypc 2021
Courtesy David Cohen

Eastern Bluebird Flies in Fall

“In winter, the reeds and foliage at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia, go to shades of grey and brown. The mix provides a great backdrop for the electric blues of eastern bluebirds,” says David Cohen.

Next, don’t miss these simply stunning pictures of hawks.