Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Feb 26, 2021
Lighting the way to new beginnings
The Lantern Festival marks the final day of Lunar (aka Chinese) New Year celebrations, which began this year on February 12 when we ushered in the Year of the Ox. Traditionally, the day of the festival is filled with dancing, firecrackers, children"s games, and food—including tangyuan, balls of rice flour that are generally loaded with sweet fillings. After sundown, celebrants gather to light or observe lanterns like the ones we see here in Chengdu, China. The lanterns are made in all sizes, shapes, and colors, and sometimes illustrate historical or mythological scenes. This year, most public celebrations will be canceled or reimagined online due to COVID-19 concerns, but the spirit remains the same. Many think of lanterns as symbolic of a new start and a way to illuminate the future as a new year begins.
Feb 25, 2021
Trevi in bloom
Perched high above the lush Italian countryside is Trevi, a great medieval hill town. Trevi is considered one of the prettiest and most authentic of the medieval towns that dot the Umbria region. Counts and cardinals built these communities to show off their wealth and they built them up high to keep them safe from rivals.
Feb 24, 2021
Getting to the bottom of the underwater waterfall
From this vantage point high over the Indian Ocean, we have a spectacular view of the "underwater waterfall" formed off the coast of Mauritius. Not a true waterfall, this is an optical illusion—it"s really the trails of sand and silt deposits on the seafloor being washed by currents over the edge of an ocean shelf. But we"re probably not alone in thinking at first glance that the ocean is pouring into some massive unseen drainpipe.
Feb 23, 2021
Giants of the avian world
The three shaggy-coiffed birds you see here are Dalmatian pelicans, posing on chilly Lake Kerkini in Greece. These waterfowl are among the largest freshwater bird species in the world, with wingspans stretching as wide as 11 feet. Dalmatian pelicans generally breed during the first four months of the year, building their nests on or near the ground, and sometimes upon vegetation floating in water. While breeding, they form monogamous pairs, though they generally don"t pair up for life.
Feb 22, 2021
Invisible no longer
As the calendar nears the end of Black History Month, we"re paying a visit to the memorial for American writer Ralph Ellison in New York"s Riverside Park. The 15-foot-tall bronze monolith depicts a striding, purposeful figure—or rather, the absence of a figure. For this sculpture, by artist Elizabeth Catlett, was inspired by Ellison"s most famous written work, "Invisible Man," published in 1952. The lyrical, uncompromising novel is narrated by an unnamed Black man who describes his agonizing search for identity in a society largely hostile to African Americans and blind to the suffering and indignities of the Black experience. The sculpture bears an inscription of the novel"s opening words: "I am an invisible man…I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me." Widely recognized as one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century, "Invisible Man" won the National Book Award in 1953 and remains one of the most searing portraits of modern American life.
Feb 21, 2021
Overlooking the Douro
Welcome to Porto, the second city of Portugal. Known on some English-language maps as Oporto (the Portuguese call it "o Porto" in conversation, meaning simply "the Port"), this attractive, ancient city is most famous today not for the port itself but for what"s shipped out of it.
Feb 20, 2021
An enduring vision
Of all the camera-wielding luminaries who"ve snapped this eastward view of Yosemite Valley, few can hold a "candela" to Ansel Adams, born this day in 1902. The legendary photographer of Western landscapes was given his first camera here in Yosemite as a boy. The national park was his favorite place in the world, and he returned every year for the rest of his life.
Feb 19, 2021
Colorful cows of the reef
These brightly colored parrotfish are swimming off the coast of Negros Oriental province in the Philippines. There are dozens of species of parrotfish and they live in abundant numbers in the world"s tropical seas. These thick-bodied fish have large scales and a beak of fused teeth they use to diligently scrape delicious algae from reefs and rocks. Some also eat coral, which they grind up with plate-like teeth in their throats. Researchers say parrotfish play a critical role in the health of coral reefs by eating algae that can choke off coral growth. They also help replenish the white sandy beaches near these tropical reefs. How? After parrotfish digest the edible parts of coral, they excrete what"s left as sand—a lot of sand. In some species, a single parrotfish can poop almost 1,000 pounds of pearly white sand each year. But never mind that—some trivia is best not to dwell on.
Feb 18, 2021
A river runs through it
In just a few months it"ll be warm enough to perch for a while on this smooth river rock, dangle your feet into the water, and take in this gorgeous Swiss scenery. We"re here in the Valle Verzasca, a valley in Ticino, Switzerland, close to the Italian border. There in the near distance is the tiny hamlet of Lavertezzo, where most everyone speaks Italian. Tourists normally flock to this area in warm summer months to swim and snorkel in the Verzasca River"s famous turquoise waters and to jump off the 17th-century double-arched bridge known as the Ponte dei Salti (Bridge of Jumps). The very, very brave bungee jump off the nearby Contra Dam, made famous in the 1995 James Bond film "GoldenEye."
Feb 17, 2021
The persistence of Perito Moreno
Yes, it"s true that glaciers are shrinking, but not all of them. Perito Moreno, a low-lying glacier in southern Argentina, accumulates ice at about the same rate that it melts into chilly Argentino Lake. This equilibrium makes it one of the few glaciers worldwide that aren"t losing mass to climate change.
Feb 16, 2021
Mardi Gras flower power
While the purple flowers and green ironwork may not look overly festive to the untrained eye, residents of New Orleans will no doubt spot the significance of both, especially today, on Mardi Gras, the final day of Carnival. Purple and green are two of the three official colors of Mardi Gras, together with gold, and in a normal year the streets would be full of revelers decked out in all three colors as they dance and parade down the streets of the city. Due to COVID-19, there won"t be any parades this year, but the colors will still be on full display in the city"s famous French Quarter and elsewhere, including as colorful icing atop king cakes, a beloved treat that"s associated with the Carnival season.
Feb 15, 2021
Presidents hear the echo of history
On this Presidents" Day, we"re stepping back in time and behind the scenes at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. In this photograph, taken August 28, 2013, the giant marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln seems to be looking on approvingly as then-President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter walk to the stage for a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was during that march, of course, when civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of this memorial.
Feb 14, 2021
An oceanic valentine
Just off the coast of Sydney, in New South Wales, Australia, the surf crashes over this cluster of rocks, sending an oceanic Valentine"s Day card to a lucky bird—or photographer—flying overhead. We"ll take nature"s love letters wherever and whenever we can find them. But what makes February 14 the day we celebrate love? Some claim Valentine"s Day has its roots in an ancient Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia that included goat sacrifices and a lottery that paired off eligible men and women. Others argue that the holiday began with early Christians celebrating a martyr named Valentine. Chaucer romanticized the day with a poem about two birds mating for life. No matter its pagan or Christian origins, in the modern world, Valentine"s Day is celebrated most everywhere as a day devoted to love.
Feb 13, 2021
Four little birds sitting in a tree…
This chunky foursome caught in a North Carolina snowstorm is a group of eastern bluebirds, the most widespread of the three types of bluebird. (The other two are the western and mountain.) The eastern bluebird range covers a wide area—east of the Rocky Mountains from southern Canada down to Central America, then over to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. You can spot them in grasslands, forest clearings, meadows, and the like.
Feb 12, 2021
The cycle begins anew
Today marks the start of festivities celebrating the Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year), which continues through February 26. Because the holiday goes by the lunar calendar, the date of the Lunar New Year on our solar/Gregorian calendar changes each year. The Lunar New Year also comes with a turn of the zodiac, which is divided into 12 parts, with each part represented by a different animal. The zodiac system assigns a single animal and its attributes to represent each year, and 2021 is the Year of the Ox. The others are Rat, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
Feb 11, 2021
It’s showtime for a precious crop
Nestled in California"s verdant Central Valley, this almond orchard is in full bloom. If we zoomed in closer, we might see billions of honey bees hard at work moving pollen from one blossom to another, doing their vital work to pollinate the trees so they can produce their valuable crop. Almond orchards are a thriving $6 billion business here in the valley. California produces around 80% of the world"s almonds and booming demand means production has more than doubled in the past few years, despite threats from drought and wildfires.
Feb 10, 2021
A throng of ice and spires
If these frozen formations were named by more literal minds, we might know them as simply "reverse icicles." But the Andes, including this mountain pass rising above Chile"s Atacama Desert, were mapped by poetically inclined Spanish explorers. They likened formations like these to a congregation of penitent parishioners kneeling at mass: hence the common name "penitentes" for such packed-snow pinnacles.
Feb 9, 2021
What s going on in this sky?
When the sky is clear, and the moon hangs low in the horizon, you can sometimes spot a halo around it, like the one captured in this image from Hug Point Falls on the Oregon coast. And occasionally within that halo, you may also see a bright spot that appears to be a second moon. No, it"s not the moon"s long-lost twin, but an optical phenomenon called a paraselene, more commonly referred to as a moon dog or mock moon. This "false" moon can appear when the real moon is at least a quarter visible and is bright enough for its light to refract off hexagonal plate-shaped ice crystals floating in the atmosphere. Moon dogs are more commonly seen in winter months, when ice crystals are more prevalent in the clouds.
Feb 8, 2021
A hero for the 21st century
Towering above Atlanta"s Sweet Auburn district is this 65-foot-high mural of John Lewis, the civil rights icon. What better way to celebrate Black History Month than to honor Lewis, a son of sharecroppers who carried the struggles of the civil rights movement from the Jim Crow South to the halls of Congress? An Alabama native, Lewis moved to Atlanta in 1963. He was already famous and would become even more so for leading marches, protests, and sit-ins throughout the South. Beaten by police, the KKK, and angry mobs, Lewis never wavered from his belief in nonviolent protest. He famously fought with his voice and peaceful actions, never his fists.
Feb 7, 2021
It s superb owl Sunday
These two great gray owls look like they"re ready to play, which seems fitting on Super Bowl (or "superb owl") Sunday. Great grays are bigger than most other owls, with broad wings and long tails. But before you pencil them in at the offensive line, consider that most of their size comes from feathers—they"re relative lightweights, tipping the scales at under 3 pounds on average, less than most other large owls. They generally live in pine and fir forests with meadows nearby, hunting small rodents at night and avoiding areas with people. Great grays hunt by listening and watching from a perch, then swooping down on their prey—sometimes plunging into more than a foot of snow to make a diving catch.
Feb 6, 2021
Where is this gorgeous peak?
This spectacular landscape might just be the perfect place to celebrate Waitangi Day, New Zealand"s national holiday. It commemorates the 1840 treaty between Britain and some 500 Māori chiefs that established British law in the island nation. The Treaty of Waitangi is considered New Zealand"s founding document and a cornerstone in the country"s history. Another important legacy of the treaty is that it provided the framework for political relations between New Zealand"s government and the Indigenous Māori people.
Feb 5, 2021
A sea of swirling stone
By showing you this coveted sight, we"re saving you a bit of an ordeal. For a close-up view like this of "The Wave," a whorled sandstone formation in the northern Arizona wilderness, you"d have to navigate a rugged and mostly trail-free route with a permit in your pocket (only a small number are available, offered via a daily lottery). But that"s just one day hike of many in the expansive Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, which encompasses almost 300,000 acres of Arizona and Utah canyonland.
Feb 4, 2021
Where is this wintry road?
This wintry, wooded scene comes from Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park in northeastern France, one of the country"s most beautiful and pristine examples of natural beauty. The park, established in 1976, is over 322,000 acres in size, 65% of which is covered in forest. The larch trees seen here are native to many of the mountains of central Europe, such as the Alps, Carpathians, and the Pyrenees.
Feb 3, 2021
The mountaintop of toppled gods
The ruins on Mount Nemrut depict a gaggle of gods from both Greek and Persian traditions, plus a few deities that King Antiochus I made up himself. The range of spiritual faiths represented in the statues found near the 7,000-foot summit reflects southeastern Turkey"s long history as a crossroads of cultures. Today, the derelict statues are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Feb 2, 2021
Did it see its shadow?
For many people, the last year has been a bit like the movie "Groundhog Day," with every day feeling the same. But today actually is Groundhog Day. This marmot in Austria popped up to see…a rainbow? We"re not sure what that means for the weather forecast, but it feels like a good sign. (The groundhog is a type of North American marmot.) In the US, the tradition says that if the groundhog sees its shadow, six more weeks of winter are in store. If it doesn"t, then we"re looking at an early spring. There"s no science behind it; the custom has its roots in Pennsylvania Dutch culture and was popularized by the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper in Pennsylvania in 1887—and again by the Bill Murray movie in 1993.