Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Dec 13, 2020
The view will stop you in your tracks
When it comes to beautiful winter scenery, Switzerland is hard to beat. We"re looking at the Gornergrat railway station with the peak of the Matterhorn in the background. One of the last great peaks of the Alps to be climbed by humans, the Matterhorn was finally summited in 1865, capping off the decade or so that"s been called the "golden age of alpinism." The iconic peak is a daunting pyramid of stone and ice, towering just inside Switzerland"s border with Italy.
Dec 12, 2020
What are we looking at?
On National Poinsettia Day we"re taking an up-close look at a poinsettia leaf. Although many people assume the red, white, pink, purple, or marbled colors are flowers, they"re actually bracts, a type of leaf that aids in reproduction, usually by turning color as the plant develops true flowers. On the poinsettia, the bracts, surrounding small yellow clustered buds called cyathia, flag down pollinators just as flower petals do.
Dec 11, 2020
Mountains fit for a queen
Like sentinels standing guard, these towering stalks are flowers of the queen of the Andes, the world"s largest bromeliad—some specimens can grow up to 50 feet tall. This extraordinary plant has adapted to grow only in the adverse conditions found on the high slopes of the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes. To see several of them in bloom at once is truly special, for the queen of the Andes sends up her flowering stalk just once, after a century or so of painstaking growth. A single plant will bloom for about three months, producing anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 flowers, then die.
Dec 10, 2020
What does the fox dream?
We"re sure you could just squeeze this snoozing Arctic fox like a stuffed animal, but we wouldn"t advise it. These cute little fuzzballs can be ferocious hunters. In fact, the Arctic fox is one of the most prolific predators on the tundra, preying on lemmings, voles, rabbits, birds (often with a side of eggs), and other small critters that cross its adorable path. But right now, our Arctic fox is happy to curl up with its tail and get some shut-eye—by forming a ball with its body, the fox is exposing the least possible surface area to cold air, helping to conserve heat no matter how low the mercury dips.
Dec 9, 2020
It s Computer Science Education Week
Are we looking at some sort of steampunk time machine? Not quite, but these clock-like rotors did help alter the course of history. The action took place during World War II at England"s Bletchley Park, a country estate that served as a top-secret facility. An assembled team, including the pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, developed this device, known as a Bombe machine. It was instrumental in cracking the Germans" "uncrackable" Enigma code, which was used for encrypting secret messages in German war operations. The Enigma code was itself generated by a rotor-driven machine that re-scrambled the code each day—so the Bombe mirrored those mechanics to keep up with the changing encryption. Insights the Bombe and other programmable machines provided into enemy military plans helped to speed the Allies" eventual triumph—some even argue that the codebreakers" efforts won the war.
Dec 8, 2020
A fortress in the sky
Beginning as a lone watchtower high in the Apennines of Italy in the 10th century, the fortress called Rocca Calascio gained more heft over the next few hundred years. A quartet of additional towers and heavy walls were gradually added around the first tower. These fortifications made clear that Rocca Calascio was ready for any military rivals who might scale the slopes from the valley below to attack this garrison. The fight never came. The ruins you see here are not battle scars but the result of a powerful earthquake. By the early 1700s, Rocca Calascio was abandoned, but it can still claim the title of highest fortress in the Apennines—and some of the most spectacular views in all of Italy. In fact, filmmakers have chosen the site for several movies, including "The Name of the Rose" and "Ladyhawke."
Dec 7, 2020
In memory of those lost
For Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we"re looking at the Pearl Harbor Dedication, part of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. You can see the white obelisk of the Washington Monument lit up on the left. Engraved in stone is the famous quote that begins with, "December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy."
Dec 6, 2020
A hidden jewel in Croatia
Today we"re walking out into the winter wonderland of Plitvice Lakes National Park, the oldest and largest national park in Croatia. More than a million tourists per year flock to this central mountainous region, renowned for its cascading waterfalls and 16 turquoise-colored lakes. These wooden pathways meander for miles around and above the lakes, beside waterfalls and over streams and rivers, which disappear into the moss-covered earth only to burst through again somewhere downstream. In fact, the lakes are all interconnected by underground flows and are separated from each other by natural dams of travertine.
Dec 5, 2020
A cozy winter village
When snow blankets the steep slopes of the Pyrenees—the mountain range that forms a natural border between Spain and France—the cozy Spanish village of Benasque offers a cheerful refuge on a winter"s eve. Beautifully preserved Romanesque and Renaissance manors and churches line the narrow cobblestone streets, and it"s easy to feel as though you"ve stepped back in time. Aside from these cultural charms, most visitors come to Benasque for outdoor adventure. Surrounded by the highest peaks of the Pyrenees, the Benasque Valley receives heavy snowfall and is a popular skiing destination. Summer attracts even more visitors to the area, when hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and river rafting are big draws.
Dec 4, 2020
Protecting wildlife today and tomorrow
For World Wildlife Conservation Day, we"re dropping in to visit a herd of African elephants at Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa. Established in 1931 to protect a small herd of just 11 African elephants, today Addo ranks as third largest of the 19 national parks in South Africa. It provides a safe haven for about 600 of these magnificent creatures, as well as Cape buffaloes, various antelope species, lions, hyenas, and endangered black rhinos.
Dec 3, 2020
A Carpathian Christmas celebration
Nestled at the foot of Mount Tampa in the Southern Carpathian Mountains of Romania, Brașov is a wonderful example of medieval Europe"s intersecting cultures. Founded by Teutonic Knights, settled by Saxons and Hungarians, and influenced by the Ottoman Empire, the Tartars, and the native Romanians, the city"s Gothic architecture and unique cuisine reflect its rich history. The city"s Christmas market is held throughout the month of December and is dominated by a 90-foot-tall, live Christmas tree. The market"s numerous stalls feature food, drink, and local crafts.
Dec 2, 2020
On this day in 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which converted massive tracts of Alaskan wilderness into protected land. That single act 40 years ago doubled the size of the entire National Park System. Alaska"s eight national parks cover more than 54 million acres. The Cove of Spires, shown here, is just one of the dramatic glacial landscapes that you can experience in Kenai Fjords National Park. Located near Seward, the park is home to 38 glaciers, which cover over half the park"s area in ice—though climate change has reduced them drastically over the last decades.
Dec 1, 2020
These common terns sharing a fish have the right idea for today, which is Giving Tuesday. Held annually on the Tuesday after the US Thanksgiving, the global movement serves to encourage acts of generosity during the holidays, when consumerism seems to be the focus for so many. Giving Tuesday was founded in 2012 by New York"s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. Originally observed only in the US, it"s grown into a worldwide celebration of generosity promoted by a newly independent organization. There are several ways you can participate: Donate to the cause of your choice, volunteer your time, or just do something nice—even sharing a fish counts.
Nov 30, 2020
A water loch-ed castle
Located on a small island where three sea lochs meet in northwestern Scotland, the current Eilean Donan Castle is just the latest incarnation of several monastic cells and Scottish clan strongholds that have occupied the tidal islet since the 7th century. The first fortified castle was built in the 13th century to defend against invading Vikings who occupied much of Scotland at the time. An iconic symbol of Scotland, from the 14th to 18th centuries the castle was mostly held by the Mackenzies and defended by the MacRaes, both storied clans of the Scottish Highlands. The castle was destroyed in 1719 by the invading British Royal Navy during the Jacobite Uprising, but was rebuilt along its earlier design in the early 20th century by Lt. Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap.
Nov 29, 2020
New Zealand s loneliest mountain
According to the legends of New Zealand"s Indigenous Māori people, the lonely Mount Taranaki wasn"t always lonely. Taranaki, the story goes, once lived among other mountains in the North Island"s center. But Taranaki feuded with the powerful volcano Tongariro over the love of the pretty peak Pīhanga. In their epic battle, the now flat-topped Tongariro lost his head but emerged victorious. The vanquished Taranaki wandered west, cutting trenches as he trudged to the shore and filling them with lovesick tears to create the region"s rivers.
Nov 27, 2020
Green is the new black
Black Friday traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season, but while bargain hunters scramble online this year to bag a discount or two, we"ve found a treat that money can"t buy—this view. Here on the crystalline waters of a lake in Glacier National Park, there"s no waiting in line as we take in the stunning scenery and marvel at the towering snow-capped peaks along the Continental Divide. If you prefer your adventure to take place on dry land, there are over 700 miles of trails to hike within the park—perfect for burning off those turkey and pumpkin-pie calories.
Nov 26, 2020
Happy Thanksgiving from an expert face-stuffer
The Siberian chipmunk is the only species of chipmunk found outside of North America. Its native habitat ranges from across Russia to northern China, Japan, and Korea. Though Siberian pine nuts are a favorite meal, these little rodents will eat nearly anything—seeds, fruits, insects, even small birds and lizards. Our ravenous friend here in Hokkaido, Japan, is gorging on inflorescences, or clusters of flowers. A chipmunk can stuff a surprising amount of goodies into its cheek pouches, which can stretch to three times its head size—imagine how ridiculous we"d look if our stomachs were as forgiving.
Nov 25, 2020
A dying breed of tree thrives in an American park
We"re standing on the Mall of New York City"s Central Park, in the middle of fall foliage season. When Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed this quarter-mile walkway, they were inspired by Europe"s public spaces. They envisioned a "grand promenade" where people of all backgrounds, from the city"s monied elite to those of lesser status, could come together and mingle.
Nov 24, 2020
Feel the spray in Monterey
Fantasizing about warm, sandy beaches with gently lapping waves? Well, we decided you could use a shake-up—so here we are on California"s Monterey Peninsula for a glimpse at the ocean"s raw, unadulterated power. Asilomar State Beach"s mile-long coastline trail offers views like this one of seas crashing on jagged shores. Below the frothy surface swim innumerable ocean organisms protected by the massive Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the largest marine preserve in the contiguous United States. Behind us, a rich dune habitat supporting its own delicate flora and fauna can be explored via a boardwalk trail.
Nov 23, 2020
Autumn comes to Old Town
The medieval center of Bern, Switzerland"s capital, looks much as it did when most of these buildings were first constructed between the 12th and the 15th centuries. What"s now called Old Town was founded in 1191 on a long, narrow peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Aare River. As Bern grew over the centuries, it erected defensive walls and moats only to tear them down again with each successive wave of expansion. In their place are now broad public spaces for outdoor cafes and markets, like the Zibelemärit (Onion Market), an annual fall tradition.
Nov 22, 2020
Birds of the Drömling
Common cranes (aka Eurasian cranes) often gravitate to wet open fields, bogs, and marshes. This flock is congregating in the Drömling wetland in Germany. The most widely distributed of all the 15 species of cranes, its native range covers a wide swath of Europe and Asia, with the largest breeding populations in Russia and Scandinavia. As winter approaches, common cranes make the long journey south, often in large flocks of about 400 birds, to North Africa or parts of southern Europe and Asia in search of more civilized temperatures.
Nov 21, 2020
Headed to the High Country
Sometimes the transition from fall to winter is an abrupt one—as demonstrated by these pristine, colorful leaves seemingly frozen in time. The cold might convince you we"re enjoying a customary leaf-peeping tour of frigid New England—but we"re hundreds of miles farther south.
Nov 20, 2020
Atop the Needle of Chamonix
With these dramatic clouds, the shardlike pinnacles of the Aiguille du Midi (Needle of Midday) resemble the spires of a ruined Alpine cathedral. This is just one of the many spectacular peaks of the Mont Blanc massif, the storied Alps range in eastern France that stretches across the border into Italy and Switzerland. It was here in France"s Chamonix valley that mountaineering became a sport in the mid-1700s. This dramatic peak was first summited in 1818, a feat that helped to popularize mountain climbing throughout Europe.
Nov 19, 2020
That bill s just not going to fit
Today we"re visiting Costa Rica, where this magnificent chestnut-mandibled toucan is fashioning a nest in the cavity of a tree. It can be hard to find a suitable space for this, the largest toucan in Costa Rica, so mating pairs will often use an abandoned woodpecker"s nest or find a large hole in a decaying part of a tree. This one seems perfectly formfitting.
Nov 18, 2020
An aviation celebration
The airborne craft you"re seeing aren"t models—they"re real airplanes hung in a hangar at the Smithsonian"s Udvar-Hazy Center, a National Air and Space Museum branch located next to Dulles International Airport. These retired craft are suspended in the company of notable flying machines from every era, like a Blackbird stealth fighter, a Concorde jet, and the space shuttle Discovery.