Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Apr 20, 2021
Terraced fields of green
Twice a year, all of Bali, Indonesia—including those who live and work in the lush, green rice terraces you see here—join together to celebrate the country"s most important holiday, Galungan. This 10-day Balinese-Hindu milestone always comes at the end of the traditional 210-day Balinese calendar, usually in March or April, and then again in September or October.
Apr 19, 2021
Rays on parade
The feeding frenzy is on! Each spring and fall, the waters off Mexico"s Baja California Peninsula become the perfect place to spot Munk"s devil rays in massive schools like this one. Unlike stingrays (and perhaps the devil), devil rays lack fearsome pointy tails. In fact, these fish are pretty gentle all around, feeding mainly on plankton. And for them, mealtime is party time: During huge devil ray gatherings like this, rays are seen continually bursting out of the water and landing with loud bellyflops.
Apr 18, 2021
In Sicily, history is everywhere
Today we"re in Montalbano Elicona on the island of Sicily. The town is known for the very old castle at the crest of the hill, as well as the quaint medieval village below. It"s no wonder that Montalbano Elicona has been called one of the most beautiful towns in all of Italy. The castle itself was built in the early 13th century by medieval power broker Frederick II of Swabia. He wore many hats, including King of Sicily, Holy Roman Emperor, and—as far-fetched as it sounds—King of Jerusalem, a title he claimed after conquering that city during the Sixth Crusade. The castle was originally designed as a fortress, but it also served as a summer residence for Frederick and rulers who followed him.
Apr 17, 2021
A river runs through it
To kick off National Park Week, which begins today, we"re visiting America"s newest national park, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, in West Virginia. This incredible view is of the New River Gorge Bridge, which, when completed in 1977, was the world"s highest bridge carrying a regular roadway. It held that distinction for 24 years and is now a popular attraction for BASE jumpers and rappelers.
Apr 16, 2021
A theatrical dream
The work of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí is the stuff of dreams: melting clocks, burning giraffes, weird objects suspended in midair. Gaze at a Dalí and you may find yourself gripped with a strange sense of familiarity, like your subconscious has visited this strange place before. But what if you could literally step into a huge Dalí piece?
Apr 15, 2021
Jackie Robinson Day
On April 15, 1947, more than 26,000 spectators at Brooklyn"s Ebbets Field witnessed history as Jackie Robinson became the first Black player on a modern-era major league baseball team. (Three Black players played in the major leagues briefly in the 19th century before the color line was fully established.) Robinson endured racist resistance throughout his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but the national pastime"s color barrier was broken, and other players followed him within months. In 1997, Major League Baseball retired Robinson"s number, 42, across all teams, and in 2004 it began the annual April 15 observance of Jackie Robinson Day. This photo shows Robinson signing autographs for fans at spring training in the Dominican Republic the year after his debut.
Apr 14, 2021
Nothing plain about it
The Carrizo Plain National Monument is a unique attraction in California—not just because of its breathtaking, colorful views, but also due to its quiet, isolated feel. Just a few hours north of Los Angeles, it covers almost 250,000 acres along the base of the Temblor Mountains, giving visitors a chance to escape the crowds and experience nature. In spring, wildflowers cover the hills and valley floor, creating the amazing scene pictured here. The area also features other diverse plant species, including several listed as threatened or endangered. Wildlife includes antelope and elk, as well as rare species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and the giant kangaroo rat.
Apr 13, 2021
Ruins of a royal temple
In present-day Thailand sit the ruins of the ancient kingdom that preceded it, Ayutthaya. Wat Phra Si Sanphet, shown here, was the holiest shrine in the capital of that kingdom, a royal temple containing a 52-foot-tall golden statue of the Buddha, among other treasures. The first king of Ayutthaya, Ramathibodi I, ordered construction of a royal palace here in 1350. Nearly a century later, the palace was moved to a different location in the city and the former palace grounds were converted to a holy site.
Apr 12, 2021
In orbit for Yuri s Night
Sixty years ago today at around 9 AM Moscow time, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to get a view of Earth from space (like this one captured from the International Space Station by astronaut Jeff Williams). With the famous utterance "Poyekhali!" ("Off we go!"), Gagarin launched into low Earth orbit in his Vostok 3KA spacecraft, making history in less than two hours with a complete trip around the planet. Landing in rural Russia, he became an instant worldwide celebrity—that is, after convincing puzzled locals he was a comrade and not a space alien.
Apr 11, 2021
The mountain of 30,000 sakura
Mount Yoshino ranks as one of the best places in Japan to immerse yourself in the spring cherry blossom season. Over 30,000 flowering Japanese cherry trees, or sakura, grow in four main groves on the hillside. Because the trees, some planted over 1,300 years ago, grow at different elevations, the cherry blossom front gradually moves up the mountain in a slow, fragrant wave as the season progresses. Peak bloom usually arrives between early and mid-April. Most years, crowds wander through the town of Yoshino, visiting its traditional temples and shrines, before admiring the profusion of cherry blossoms, a custom known as hanami. Of course, we can practice hanami virtually with pictures. But if you"re lucky enough to have a blooming cherry tree near you, we encourage you to pause and breathe the moment in.
Apr 10, 2021
Bear cubs roughhouse on Siblings Day
Let"s celebrate Siblings Day by peeking at the antics of these playful grizzly bear cubs (while staying clear of their mother). Pregnant female grizzlies settle into their den in winter and give birth while hibernating, usually to two cubs. While their mother sleeps, the cubs nurse and grow quickly. When springtime arrives, the new family emerges from the den to search for food. The siblings will live with their mother for two to three years, after which they"ll venture off on their own.
Apr 9, 2021
A timeless view of the night sky
The bright sweep of the Milky Way is especially vivid amid the mesas, canyons, and prehistoric towers of Hovenweep National Monument. Straddling the southern Colorado-Utah border, Hovenweep is so remote that almost no artificial light disturbs the view of star-filled skies. The dazzling nightscapes are little different from those seen by the Ancestral Puebloans who built these towers. They were a farming culture who first settled in the area roughly 1,100 years ago. By the late 1200s they numbered around 2,500 people and had built these and other structures in six different villages. Archaeologists offer several theories to explain the use of the buildings. Some may have been defensive fortifications, storage areas, homes, or any combination of these. But researchers suggest that the tower called Hovenweep Castle, seen here, was almost certainly used as a celestial observatory.
Apr 8, 2021
I m here! Take a look at me!
Spring is lekking season for the black grouse. In the early morning, the male birds, like this fancy fella in Finland, gather on lek sites, often a patch of open ground, to put on a show for the ladies in the audience. The guys flash their white tail feathers, utter cooing and hissing noises, flutter-jump, and pick fights with each other—all to demonstrate their dominance to the watching hens. (Hens are smaller and have gray-brown feathers.) When a hen picks out the male she likes, the two fly off to mate and then go their separate ways. Love connections are brief in the black grouse world.
Apr 7, 2021
A willowy welcome to spring
With winter officially over, we"re weeping for joy right alongside this willow tree, its wispy new boughs signaling a healthy year of growth to come. About 400 species of willow grow across the globe in water-rich, seasonally chilly spots like here in Minnesota. With some willows soaring up to 70 feet tall and wide, cultures around the world have bestowed deep symbolism on the formidable trees, associating them with refuge, wisdom, or plenty—if not with ghosts, demons, or the spirit world. One thing all traditions can agree on: When a willow sprouts bright green wisps like this, it"s a welcome symbol of spring"s arrival.
Apr 6, 2021
On the rebirth of the Olympic Games
Today marks the 125th anniversary of the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896—1,500 years after they were banned by the Roman emperor. (The original games were held at least as far back as 776 BCE and probably earlier.) The 1896 Games were held in the Panathenaic Stadium, in the shadow of the Acropolis of Athens, shown here. Those newly revived games of 1896 included athletes from 14 countries, with the largest delegations from Greece, Germany, France, and Great Britain. The 43 events included a marathon, tennis, cycling, fencing, shooting, Greco-Roman wrestling, and swimming. And while some things haven"t changed over the years, some were pretty different back then. Swimmers were taken out to sea by boat for the longer races and had to swim back to shore. Winners were given a silver medal (copper for second place), as well as an olive branch and a diploma.
Apr 5, 2021
Once upon a time there was a bridge…
Although this stone bridge, known as Saut de Brot, looks right out of a fairy tale, it serves a very practical purpose. It connects walking trails on each side of the Areuse Gorge, offering safe passage to hikers exploring the lush Brot-Dessous area in western Switzerland, a predominantly French-speaking region of this multilingual country. It"s not known when the bridge was built exactly, though it"s thought to be a recent construction. But if that"s true, how do we not know who built it? All this mystery leads us to suspect it"s the work of helpful gnomes and fairies living deep in the Swiss woods. The end.
Apr 4, 2021
A yearly sign that spring has sprung
If you find yourself in Germany or Austria around Easter, you"ll see trees, bushes, and cut branches decorated in colorful eggs such as these. The Ostereierbaum (aka Osterbaum or Easter egg tree), is a German tradition dating back centuries, though no one"s quite sure of the exact origin. Eggs have long been a symbol of rebirth and spring, and the sight of colorful eggs hung by ribbon can melt even the coldest of hearts.
Apr 3, 2021
A light at the edge of the world
Seemingly against all odds, the Aniva Lighthouse stands atop this rocky outcrop where it once lit the way for vessels navigating the fierce currents, hidden rocks, and frequent fogs of Cape Aniva on the island of Sakhalin. Russia"s largest island, Sakhalin lies off the mainland"s Far East coast, due north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The island was hotly contested by both Russia and Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the late 1930s, when the Aniva Lighthouse was built, Russia controlled the northern half of Sakhalin while Japan controlled this, the southern part—so it was a team from Japan that built this lighthouse.
Apr 2, 2021
White dunes, blue lagoons
From the air, the mesmerizing tapestry of sandy dunes and lagoons you see here gives Lençóis Maranhenses National Park an otherworldly, desert-like appearance. Located in the sparsely populated northeast corner of Brazil, this park gets far too much annual rainfall—nearly 50 inches—to be considered a desert. In fact, heavy rain is part of what makes this place unique: Nearly 70% of its annual rainfall comes between January and May, filling the park"s nearly 40,000 lagoons to the brim with fresh rainwater. Why doesn"t the water sink into the sand? A layer of impermeable bedrock beneath the dunes prevents that from happening.
Apr 1, 2021
Why do elephants hide in trees?
…Because they"re so good at it. Although none are as skilled at self-concealment as this specimen from the Loxodonta genus of African elephants—namely the species laprofolis, better known as the common chia elephant. While it"s the well-known habit of other pachyderms to paint their toenails red and hide in cherry trees, the chia elephant"s defense is even more unique: After a nice roll in the mud, the elephant charges through patches of seeding chia plants, picking up thousands of seeds that stick on its grooved hide. In under a week—just add water!—the seeds sprout and develop into dense, leafy growths that allow the elephant to conveniently camouflage itself as it wanders the savanna. The curious creature has even been reported to disguise itself as a houseplant, duping homeowners into hosting a literal elephant in the room.
Mar 31, 2021
If your dream is to experience a tropical paradise that"s still largely untouched by people, you could do worse than a trip to Raja Ampat, an archipelago in the province of West Papua, Indonesia. Most of the region"s 50,000 inhabitants live on or around its four main islands, Batanta, Misool, Salawati, and Waigeo. The remainder of Raja Ampat is made up of roughly 1,500 smaller islands, cays, and shoals—astonishingly, hundreds of these tiny islands have yet to be explored by humans.
Mar 30, 2021
Best fronds forever
Each of these tiny fern appendages, known as fronds, is made up of even tinier leaves—but they won"t be tiny for long. Ostrich ferns like this one, named for their tapering fronds that resemble feathery ostrich plumes, can be almost 6 feet tall once mature.
Mar 29, 2021
Rising up from the black sand like rock gods
Any visitor to Iceland knows that driving the Ring Road rewards the traveler with incredible changing landscapes. Today, we"re taking a quick detour to visit this chiseled stretch of Iceland"s southern coast, where black sand beaches meet spiky basalt sea stacks. This is Reynisfjara Beach, widely considered the most beautiful example of Iceland"s black sand beaches. The sea stacks fronting the beach are known as Reynisdrangar and were formed when a volcano erupted, spewing flowing lava that cooled into these formations. Ask the locals how they formed, however, and you may get a different story, one involving trolls and a battle with a three-masted ship.
Mar 28, 2021
Cherry blossoms spring to life
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is always a highlight of spring in our nation"s capital. It"s timed for the peak bloom date (usually the last week in March or first week of April) when most of the blossoms are open on the cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin. The trees were originally a gift from Japan, planted in Washington in 1912. While some Cherry Blossom Festival events are virtual this year, the trees will decorate the city as usual—just as they do in this photo framing the Jefferson Memorial. This year"s festival began on March 20 and runs until April 11. It includes in-person tours and activities visitors can do on their own, as well as virtual viewings and an online Celebration Show that debuts on April 9.
Mar 27, 2021
Blink and you ll miss it
The mountain hare is doubly hard to catch sight of, because along with its tremendous speed, it"s terrifically well camouflaged. These two traits help the iconic species survive in the rugged mountains and uplands of northern Europe and Asia—this hare is dashing across a heath in the Scottish Highlands. When they have to, these speedy leporids can dart away as fast as 50 mph, at least for short distances, allowing them to outrun predators and disappear safely into the heather. But a would-be predator may not even spy them to begin with—mountain hares change coats, or molt, several times a year, their fur going from brown and gray in summer, to white-gray in winter, helping them to blend into their surroundings whatever the season.