Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Mar 25, 2021
There was gold in them there hills…
The red clay formations called Las Médulas owe their angular character not to the shaping hands of nature but to those of gold miners—and not grizzled "49ers in grubby flannel and overalls, but 1st-century excavators clad in tattered tunics. When gold seams were discovered here in what"s now northern Spain, the Romans who controlled the region created a clever system of tunnels and canals under the hills, through which they channeled water from nearby streams to build pressure that cracked away huge chunks of clay.
Mar 24, 2021
A whale of a picture
The family drama you see playing out here in the Pacific Ocean near Maui, Hawaii, is a humpback whale calf getting a little nudge from its mom. She presumably wants the sleepy youngster to practice surfacing, something these amazing marine mammals are famous for doing in dramatic fashion. Winter is calving season for the Hawaiian population of humpbacks. Thousands arrive from their feeding grounds in the North Pacific to swim and breed in the warm Hawaiian waters, making them a common sight from November until April. Because they"re known to hang around near the ocean"s surface, breaching or slapping the water with their tails, humpbacks are a favorite of whale watchers everywhere.
Mar 23, 2021
Uncommon clouds are gathering
A satellite view of the Mania River in Madagascar allows us to see a curious cloud pattern. It"s common for cool, moist marine air to rise and form dense clouds over bodies of water, then for the clouds to evaporate as they drift over warmer, drier land. The opposite is happening here: Puffs of clouds are forming over land, but not over water. That"s because Madagascar"s tropical rainforests are warm and wet enough that evaporating moisture rises as the day heats up. When it rises high enough, the moisture encounters cooler air, which condenses the water into clouds. Generally speaking, clouds will form where the air is rising, which in this case is only over the land. Above the river, the air is cooler and descending, so no clouds are forming there.
Mar 22, 2021
Honoring some real heroes of World War II
In this photograph, likely taken in 1941, we see a group of cadets examining a map with their training instructor. They are (from left to right) Lieutenant John Daniels of Chicago, Cadet Clayborne Lockett of Los Angeles, Cadet Lawrence O"Clark of Chicago, Cadet William Melton of Los Angeles, and civilian instructor Milton Crenshaw of Little Rock. The pilots would later be known as the "Tuskegee Airmen," the first Black military aviators in the US Army Air Corps, a precursor of the US Air Force. During World War II, more than 1,000 Tuskegee pilots flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa, quickly becoming revered for their bravery and excellence.
Mar 21, 2021
A glimpse of the Blue Forest
What color do you normally associate with a forest? Well, in the case of the Hallerbos forest of Belgium, that would be blue, for reasons you can clearly see here. For about 10 days every year, usually in late April or early May, this forest floor is transformed as bluebell hyacinths wake up from their winter slumber and carpet it in blue.
Mar 20, 2021
It s time for spring
This 40-foot sundial stands atop the Parnidis Dune, one of the scenic highlights of the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by Lithuania and Russia. Built in 1995, the sundial was damaged by a hurricane a few years later and rebuilt in 2011. It accurately tells time by creating shadows on the steps, with notches for hours and half hours, as well as months, equinoxes, and solstices.
Mar 19, 2021
Life carries on, rising from a ship s skeleton
We"re on the northeastern coast of Australia in a small bay of Magnetic Island, looking down upon the sunken hull of the steamship SS City of Adelaide. The vessel got its start in 1863 as a passenger steamship ferrying travelers and cargo between ports in Melbourne, Sydney, Honolulu, and San Francisco. Under sail, it was likened to a graceful bird in flight. In 1912, the City of Adelaide was gutted by fire, and in 1916, its burned hulk ran aground here in Cockle Bay while being transported after sale. Now it serves as an artificial island of sorts to a flock of cockatoos who live in the mangroves that have sprouted from the ship"s rusted deck.
Mar 18, 2021
A sizzling summit hides in the clouds
Seen here with its explosive summit socked away in the clouds, Mount Etna towers over the Italian isle of Sicily as the tallest volcano in Europe—and maybe the crankiest, given its near-constant eruptions. The island peak has been highly active for perhaps half a million years and can still be counted on for a spectacular eruption now and then. This photograph shows Etna erupting in 2013, but it blasted back into life again in February 2021, sending lava, ash, and smoke into the sky for weeks.
Mar 17, 2021
An emerald isle of the Emerald Isle
If you were to find yourself wandering across the tiny island of Inisheer on March 17, you"d almost certainly hear someone greet you with a hearty "Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!" That"s because nearly all the island"s 260 residents would want to wish you a happy Saint Patrick"s Day in their native Irish tongue. The smallest of the three Aran Islands that are strung across the mouth of Galway Bay in western Ireland, Inisheer has been inhabited from prehistory—artifacts from as early as the Bronze Age have been found scattered around its 1,400 acres. The tiny drystone wall subdivisions of the fields are a result of a long tradition of splitting family farms between all the children. After a few generations, farms were reduced to the garden-size patches you can see here.
Mar 16, 2021
Why does this panda cub look so happy?
It"s National Panda Day!
Mar 15, 2021
Every day is Napping Day for this screech owl
We can think of no better way to celebrate National Napping Day than with this furry fellow, a screech owl asleep in a tree trunk in the Massapequa Preserve on Long Island, New York. Found in wilderness areas and near human settlements from the Atlantic Seaboard to West Texas and up into Montana, Eastern screech owls like this one are well established in the US. They"re nocturnal creatures, so they sleep during the day and become active after dusk. But don"t worry about you or your pet getting attacked by these owls. While it"s not apparent from this picture, screech owls are tiny–smaller than a pint glass–and prefer to feast on insects, worms, and small rodents.
Mar 14, 2021
If the first day of daylight saving time doesn"t have you springing for joy, this towering timekeeper might be more your speed. The astronomical clock at Lyon Cathedral in France was built in 1660, centuries before daylight saving time was widely adopted in the 20th century. The clock"s intersecting hands and dials don"t just tell time, they form a flattened model of our planet that tracks the positions of the sun and moon relative to Earth. The zodiac dial, offset to account for the planet"s rotational tilt, shows the star sign currently in season.
Mar 13, 2021
All hail the king of shrubs
Often called the "king of shrubs," rhododendrons are prized by gardeners for their glossy green leaves and brightly colored flowers. Depending on the variety, the blooms can emerge anytime from late winter into summer. Either evergreen or deciduous, rhododendrons make up a large and diverse genus of woody plants in the heath family, with over 1,000 wild species and scores of cultivated options. Rhododendrons are native to temperate areas of Asia, North America, and Europe, as well as some tropical parts of Southeast Asia and northern Australia. Our image today captures "rhodies" in full bloom in March along a path at Semper Forest Park of Rügen, Germany.
Mar 12, 2021
Ringing in the new year at Teotihuacan
If the Aztecs had hot air balloons, they may well have greeted the new year like this—floating above the massive Pyramid of the Sun at sunrise today, the first day of the year according to the Aztec calendar. Also known as Yancuic Xihuitl, the Aztec New Year is still celebrated by some Indigenous Nahua communities here in central Mexico with songs, dances, and the flames of "ocote" (pitch pine) candles. Dancers wear colorful traditional costumes topped by quetzal feather headdresses, and celebrants greet the new year by making loud noises with seashells, just as Aztecs did centuries ago. It"s one of the many expressions of pre-Columbian tradition that managed to survive the Spanish conquest and modern erosion of Indigenous customs.
Mar 11, 2021
Welcome to the drainpipe of the Pacific
We are standing here on the craggy Oregon coast looking out to Thor"s Well with the help of a photographer"s telephoto lens. Only the most daring of visitors would get this close to the gaping sinkhole at high tide. One misstep combined with a forceful surge from the raging Pacific Ocean, and into the plunging well we"d go.
Mar 10, 2021
Commemorating the life of a famous railroad conductor
What better way to celebrate Harriet Tubman Day than with a visit to Harriet Tubman Park? It"s in the South End neighborhood of Boston, where this bronze statue by local artist Fern Cunningham commemorates the great abolitionist"s life. It depicts Tubman leading fellow slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Under her arm, Tubman holds a Bible. Deeply religious, Tubman felt it was her duty to help people escape bondage in the South. It"s estimated she helped free more than 300 slaves on 19 trips north, communicating with coded songs and maps. Tubman is widely regarded as the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. But she wasn"t just a conductor—during the Civil War, she worked as a spy and a nurse, and she led the Combahee River Raid which set free 700 slaves. After the war, she traveled here, to Boston, to work on women"s voting rights.
Mar 9, 2021
Spring comes to the Diablo foothills
Spring rains carpet the rolling foothills of Northern California"s Diablo Range in emerald green this time of year. Just past the sprawling suburbs of the East Bay region, the Diablo foothills become a sylvan playground for horseback riding, hiking, bicycling, and simply escaping into nature. Grasslands and oak savannahs cover the low ridges that gradually rise into the higher peaks of the range, and at the crests of the foothills, a visitor is granted panoramic views of the ridgeline to the east. Aside from the green grasses, springtime brings a profusion of wildflowers to the area, including poppies, daffodils, and lupines. It"s also nesting season for the many birds of the region, like the peregrine falcons that build nests high in the vertical rock formations here known as Castle Rock.
Mar 8, 2021
A notorious advocate for women
Today is March 8, which means it"s International Women"s Day, the UN-sponsored celebration of women"s achievements and a push for gender equity around the globe. To honor this year"s event, we turn to New York City"s East Village, where Brooklyn-based street artist Elle painted the mural you see here as an homage to one of America"s most notorious advocates for women, the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionately called RBG.
Mar 7, 2021
Finding a balance between wetlands and water treatment
Take a stroll through the Wakodahatchee Wetlands and you"ll likely spot great blue herons, like the fluffed-up pair we"re featuring today. Located in Delray Beach, Florida, and created on 50 acres of wastewater utility property, the park first opened to the public back in 1996. A three-quarter-mile boardwalk takes visitors over ponds and through marshes, offering the chance to see more than 150 bird species, plus turtles, fish, frogs, alligators, and other Floridian fauna. Every day, the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department pumps about 2 million gallons of highly treated wastewater into the wetlands. Then algae and other plants naturally finish the purification process before the water seeps back into the water table. Quite an upgrade from a yucky wastewater pond.
Mar 6, 2021
Here there be dragons
Welcome to Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon—a monitor lizard that evolved in this insular environment to be much larger "scale" than its fellows. Found only on the islands we see here—Komodo and Padar—and a handful of others nearby, it"s the biggest lizard walking the Earth today. Not only walking but sprinting: Since adult Komodo dragons often prey on swift Timor deer, you"ll sometimes see a dragon in a dead sprint after its would-be dinner, reaching up to 13 miles an hour.
Mar 5, 2021
Reflecting on one of the world s strangest rivers
If you like your landscapes on the surreal side, then this weird and wonderful river in the Andalusia region of southwestern Spain should be to your liking. The Rio Tinto (Red River) gets its name from the reddish hue of its water, caused by high levels of iron and sulfur, which make it very acidic. This unusual chemical makeup may or may not be a result of the area"s long history of mining, which dates back at least 5,000 years. Ancient residents like the Tartessians and Romans dug here for copper, silver, and gold, as well as the mineral pyrite, commonly referred to as "fool"s gold." Legend has it that the Rio Tinto was the site of the fabled mines of King Solomon.
Mar 4, 2021
The most wonderful day of the year. Period.
Er, comma—at least it seems like that"s what we"re seeing. And just like a comma breaks up a sentence, this structure called a breakwater interrupts the Pacific Ocean, punctuating waves with a crash before they can disturb this Bali beach. Whether its resemblance to a comma (or is that an apostrophe?) was intentional or not, it"s a fine visual for today"s syntactical celebration. That"s correct: It"s Grammar Day! (Note to hardline grammarians: We know punctuation—like a comma—isn"t exactly grammar, but we"re loosening the linguistical reins a bit in the generous spirit of Grammar Day. So put that red pen down, smarty-pants.)
Mar 3, 2021
Climb a tree for wild animals and plants
Today is World Wildlife Day, the annual United Nations celebration of the incredible diversity of our planet"s wild animals and plants. The theme of this year"s WWD is "Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet." Through a series of virtual events, and a panel at UN headquarters, UN representatives and partner wildlife groups will examine the links between the state of our planet"s forests and woodlands and efforts to preserve the millions of livelihoods that directly depend on them. A particular emphasis will be placed on the role of Indigenous peoples who still live and work in forested areas, how they"ve successfully managed their forest ecosystems for centuries, and what that can teach us about sustainability.
Mar 2, 2021
Fall for Chile
It"s nearly autumn in Chile, where signs of the season vary widely as one travels from the Atacama Desert in the north more than 2,600 miles south to the tip of Tierra del Fuego. Around halfway between these two extremes you can find Conguillío National Park and the volcano Llaima at Chile"s center. In March, at the start of the Southern Hemisphere"s autumn, the leaves of the deciduous forest begin to turn color and fall, and the native Chilean pine trees (Araucaria araucana) stand out even more strikingly.
Mar 1, 2021
Gazing upon Portraits of Change
For the start of Women"s History Month, we"ve come to Union Station in Washington, DC, to view a mosaic of historical photographs of thousands of American women who fought to win voting rights. The ratification of the 19th Amendment, on August 18, 1920, finally secured the legal right of women to vote, but this mainly benefited white women. Despite heroic contributions to achieve suffrage, Black, Indigenous, and other women of color continued to face barriers to voting in the form of poll taxes, restrictive local laws, and hostile intimidation. This mosaic, called "Our Story: Portraits of Change," attempts to show a more complex history of the fight for American women"s right to vote.