Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Sep 15, 2020
For Hispanic Heritage Month: Out of Many, One
This giant portrait by Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is called "Out of Many, One." It was installed on the National Mall lawn in October 2014 and remained for one month. The title not only refers to the motto of the United States (E pluribus unum, Latin for "out of many, one") but hints at how the portrait was created.
Sep 14, 2020
Tiny fliers head south
The ruby-throated hummingbird in today"s homepage image is snacking on some yellow bells in the Texas Hill Country, preparing for its long journey south for the winter. This time of year, the hummingbirds leave the northern latitudes of the eastern US and Canada, migrating to the warmer climes of Mexico and Central America. Along their route, many will cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single 500-mile flight, which can take 18-22 hours of nonstop flying at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Tiny but fierce, the ruby-throated hummingbird weighs less than a nickel. It beats its wings about 53 times a second on average, but during courtship the wingbeat rate increases to 200 times per second, the fastest of any bird.
Sep 13, 2020
Super sandy Sweet 16
We"re in the Rockies of southern Colorado to celebrate Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve"s 16th year as a full-fledged national park—though it was a national monument from 1932, and both the dunes themselves and the surrounding valley"s history are far more ancient.
Sep 12, 2020
A city, a cliff, a canyon…and cheese
Gazing down the lush Alzou river valley at the vertically-oriented village of Rocamadour, you won"t be surprised some regard the medieval French town as a holy site: Its beauty alone is mystical. The gorges of southwestern France are home to numerous striking historic hamlets built along and atop their steep edges. But Rocamadour is special as a stop for thousands of pilgrims on the Way of Saint James, a UNESCO-recognized traditional route through France and Spain that still draws journeyers both pious and secular. The town"s cliff-top sanctuary and the black-painted Madonna statue within have been purported to have healing powers. If you"re drawn to more earthly sources of good health, though, Rocamadour also lends its name to a delicious, locally crafted goat cheese.
Sep 11, 2020
In honor of those we ve lost
Today we"re featuring the view from the Empty Sky memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River, to where the World Trade Center"s Twin Towers once stood in New York City"s lower Manhattan. The Empty Sky memorial honors the 749 people from New Jersey who were killed on September 11, 2001. Their names are etched on two massive steel walls that form a tunnel directing the visitor"s gaze to one of the sites of the deadliest terrorist attack in history. The name Empty Sky comes directly from a song by New Jersey"s favorite son, Bruce Springsteen, about the "empty sky" where the Twin Towers once stood before they were destroyed in the 9/11 attacks.
Sep 10, 2020
Hidden beauty in Thailand
One of Thailand"s best-kept secrets, Huay Mae Khamin waterfall can be found in the forests of Khuean Srinagarindra National Park. The waterfall is especially picturesque this time of year, when the changing leaves provide a backdrop for the bright green water. Its flow originating in the mountains to the east of the national park, the waterfall stretches more than a mile, spilling over seven different levels before joining the Khwae Yai River below. It generally has water all year round, but in 2017, during the dry season, the river feeding the falls dried out completely for the first time, and the park was closed to visitors until the rainy season. Though the journey to this peaceful retreat might be long, it"s found a place on our ever-growing list of future travel destinations.
Sep 9, 2020
Where the bearded reedling sings
Feeling a hint of fall in the air? This bearded reedling could be, but a drop in temperature isn"t a signal for it to fly on to warmer destinations. These songbirds belong to a resident species, which means most stay put in the marshes, from England to eastern Asia, where they thrive. Their diet changes with the seasons: In the summer, they dine on reed aphids, while during the colder months, reed seeds sustain them. This guy—and we know he"s a male due the distinctive black "mustache" stretching down his face—is perching in the Elmley National Nature Reserve in Kent, one of the largest bird reserves in England.
Sep 8, 2020
Victory Day in Valletta
Today we"re visiting Valletta, the capital of Malta, where the Maltese people are celebrating Victory Day. The national holiday commemorates the end of three historic sieges made on the Maltese archipelago—the Great Siege of Malta, which took place in 1565; the Siege of Valletta by the French, which ended in 1800; and the Siege of Malta during the Second World War by German and Italian forces. The WWII Siege of Malta ended in 1942, after nearly two and a half years of devastating air attacks. King George VI of the United Kingdom, which then ruled the island, awarded Malta the George Cross "for the heroism and devotion of its people" during the great siege. The George Cross was incorporated into the flag of Malta in 1943 and remains there today.
Sep 7, 2020
Take a break! It s Labor Day!
On this Labor Day, we"re paying homage to hard work, no matter what form it takes. In this case, a worker is applying a fresh coat of paint to the Hammering Man, a symbol of laborers everywhere. Hammering Man is a series of sculptures in varying sizes that depict a man with a motorized arm swinging a hammer in a slow, steady motion. American artist Jonathan Borofsky says he created the sculptures as tribute to working-class men and women around the world, and with that in mind, Hammering Man is our Labor Day hero.
Sep 6, 2020
Summer winds down in the Hamptons
As summer unofficially wraps up, we"re looking at Reedy Island, an islet that sits in Moneyboque Bay, across from Westhampton Beach on Long Island, New York. The Hamptons is a collection of villages and hamlets with plenty of sandy beachfront that have long been a popular upscale summer destination for New Yorkers looking to escape the city. This year, that migration started early, as city dwellers headed east in the spring in search of space to social distance. In summer, the beaches, of course, are the main attraction, but the area is also known for dining and nightlife (complete with celebrity spotting), wineries, and family-owned farms and farm stands. And the end of summer isn"t all bad news, at least for the local economy. As temperatures cool and crowds (usually) thin out, the farms shift gears to apple cider and pumpkins, and by November, the harvesting of Peconic Bay scallops begins.
Sep 5, 2020
Don"t get distracted by the awesome top half of today"s photo. The postcard appeal of Idaho"s Sawtooth Range is undeniable, but our focus today is on the humble structure at the bottom.
Sep 4, 2020
A bull, some flowers, and a stratovolcano
It"s grape-harvesting time on Pico, a centuries-old tradition that kicks off in early September. Pico is one of nine islands comprising an autonomous region of Portugal called the Azores archipelago. The islands themselves are the peaks of vast volcanic mountains that rise high above the North Atlantic Ocean.
Sep 3, 2020
Tall, taller, tallest
Piercing the clouds above Shanghai as we celebrate National Skyscraper Day, each of these three supertall spires could be seen as a freeze-frame of China"s swift economic growth in the past couple of decades. Jin Mao Tower (right, 1,380 feet) was China"s tallest building from 1999 until the Shanghai World Financial Center (left, 1,614 feet) opened in 2007 and took the title. Shanghai Tower (center, 2,139 feet) topped out in 2013, besting the SWFC and becoming the second-tallest skyscraper in the world (behind Dubai"s Burj Khalifa, 2,722 feet).
Sep 2, 2020
A rock in a wild place
Here in the high desert of Central Oregon, Smith Rock beckons rock climbers from around the world with its cliffs of tuff and basalt. Considered by many to be the birthplace of American sport climbing, it"s home to nearly 2,000 climbing routes of all levels of difficulty. For those happier with their feet firmly planted on the ground, Smith Rock State Park offers the usual range of outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, and watching for wildlife like prairie falcons, golden eagles, and mule deer.
Sep 1, 2020
National Mushroom Month
The humble mushroom may grow in some dark, hidden places, but this is its time in the spotlight. National Mushroom Month is celebrated each year in the month of September in the United States. That’s when the Mushroom Council, a group of commercial mushroom producers, takes advantage of the opportunity to educate people on all that fabulous fungi have to offer—especially the nutritional benefits. Mushrooms have long been associated with good health. In fact, early Romans referred to mushrooms as "food of the gods" and hieroglyphics suggest that ancient Egyptians linked the mushroom to immortality. In modern times, we"ve learned that mushrooms are a powerful source of vitamins and antioxidants. Which type of mushroom is your favorite?
Aug 31, 2020
At the shore of an inland sea
We"re looking out from a cavern at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan"s Upper Peninsula. The area"s named for its colorful sandstone cliffs, which stretch for 15 miles along the shores of the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior. As groundwater leaches out of the rocks, it carries minerals such as iron, manganese, and copper that paint the cliffs in shades of red, pink, black, green, and other colors. The park itself, which is roughly the size of five Manhattans, boasts waterfalls, beaches, and rock formations—some resembling human profiles and castle turrets—carved over time by relentless waves and the unforgiving weather of Yooper Country.
Aug 30, 2020
Hay, what s up?
Whenever summer turns to autumn, the hay harvest is at the front of farmers" minds. To mark the change of season, we"re ambling through a hayfield full of beautifully rolled bales. This particular pastoral patch is in Jutland, the agrarian mainland of Denmark that "juts" into the North Sea. But if you could—hay presto—snap your fingers and teleport to any hayfield at sunset, you"d surely see similar neat rows of dry, amber-tinted grass.
Aug 29, 2020
Big wheels on a big mountain
Today we"re high in the French Pyrenees at the Col d"Aubisque, a beautiful mountain pass topping out at 5,607 feet above sea level. The Col d"Aubisque is one of the legendary climbs of the Tour de France, which starts today in Nice. The grueling bicycle race lasts 23 days (21 days of racing), with riders clocking around 2,200 miles overall, and this mountain pass is often one of its most challenging stages. The road up the pass has grades in either direction that can tilt past 10%. This epic mountain stage was first added to the 1910 race and it"s since appeared in more than half the annual Tours, though not this year as it happens.
Aug 28, 2020
A prison fit for a count
Château d"If, off the coast of Marseille, France, was built beginning in 1524 as a fortress by King Francis I. The tiny islet in the Mediterranean Sea was chosen as the site for the fortress because of its steep cliffs and strategic location near the busy port of Marseille. While the "château" never gained fame defending the ancient port (since it was never attacked), it did become notorious as a prison. Surrounded by treacherous currents—like Alcatraz in San Francisco—starting in the late 16th century it was a dumping ground for political and religious prisoners. As far as official records go, none of the prisoners condemned there ever escaped.
Aug 27, 2020
Rocks on the move
No, that stone in today"s homepage image didn"t get there by itself. Or did it? Not only is Death Valley one of the hottest places on Earth, it also boasts a mysterious geologic phenomenon—rocks that drift across the exceptionally flat desert floor, seemingly under their own power. The rocks here at Death Valley"s Racetrack Playa are known as "sailing stones" and they can vary in size from a few ounces to hundreds of pounds. As seen in our image, the stones leave long trails behind them as they move across the scenic dry lakebed.
Aug 26, 2020
Spotted Lake emerges
This might look like the surface of some distant planet, but Spotted Lake is much closer to home. Just north of the US border in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada, the lake"s strange coloration is due to its high concentrations of mineral deposits. It"s a protected cultural site of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation for its healing properties. Spotted Lake is an endorheic lake, which is a basin where water collects but has no river or sea to drain into. The water level rises with rainfall during autumn and winter, but when the days grow hotter and drier in the summertime, the water evaporates and the surface of the lake lowers. It"s during these hot, dry summers in the Okanagan when Spotted Lake earns its name—large "spots" in varying hues of blue, green, or yellow become more prominent as the water level drops. The area"s closed to the public, but you can get a decent view from the highway. Binoculars recommended.
Aug 25, 2020
Punakaiki on South Island, New Zealand
This portion of New Zealand"s South Island coast features plenty of strange geology. The Pancake Rocks, so named due to the stacked, flat layers of sediment and stone, were once underwater. As the Tasman Sea receded, the unusual rocks became the Punakaiki region"s shore. Erosion created openings along the cliffs called "blowholes." When the tide comes crashing in, water sprays up through the openings, and if you"re standing too close, you"ll get soaked.
Aug 24, 2020
Go with the rainbow flow
Today"s photo brings us to the banks of Caño Cristales, the "liquid rainbow" that cuts a prismatic path through the heart of Colombia. From June through November, when the clear water is low, the abundant underwater plants that cover the riverbed show off their red, yellow, green, and blue hues. The star of the show—especially in this photo—is Macarenia clavigera, a riverweed that ranges from bright red to deep crimson or purple depending on its intake of sun rays. In August and September, when the florid flora is at its peak, the river"s a coveted nature excursion: Because the ecosystem is so fragile, visits are limited to guided tours.
Aug 23, 2020
Reflections of the night sky
Because August is such a fantastic time for stargazing, we’re looking skyward at this spectacular nighttime scene of the Milky Way over the Totensee, a small natural lake in Switzerland. In the Northern Hemisphere, the nights are still long and remain warm, so if you"re lucky you can catch the always thrilling sight of a falling star. Tonight would be a good night to look for one because we"re at the tail end of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Like most predictable meteor showers, it occurs when the Earth"s orbit intersects with the long elliptical path of one of the millions of comets that orbit the sun. It is called the Perseid meteor shower because the bulk of the meteors will appear to originate out of the constellation Perseus. So, turn out the lights, head outside, and look up!
Aug 22, 2020
A monster view in Scotland
People love a good mystery. Maybe that"s why we"ve been fascinated by mythical creatures like the Loch Ness monster for nearly 1,500 years. We"re looking at Urquhart Castle, a ruin founded in the 13th century, with Loch Ness behind it. As the legend goes, on August 22, 565, an Irish priest named Columba confronted "Nessie" and commanded the "water beast" away. Since then, several other people have claimed to spot, or even photograph, the Loch Ness monster. And then there are the alleged sightings of Bigfoot, the chupacabra, the yeti, and other creatures around the world. These are all examples of a subculture engaged in cryptozoology—the study of hidden animals. Are any of these beasts real? Probably not, but why spoil the fun?